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Published on December 19th, 2013 | by Nathaniel

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Over-giver? 3 Ways to Break the Heavy Holiday Habit

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Ever since I was 16 and had a job, I’ve made it a point to try to get family and friends Christmas gifts. And I love being THAT guy- you know, THAT brother, THAT son, THAT uncle, THAT friend…  I wanted to get gifts for high school friends, teachers, everybody and they grandmamas! I saw gifting as an opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face. By nature, I don’t think I’m a giver- I was actually a pretty selfish kid growing up. Getting me to share my Bubbllicious was like pulling tusks from an oversized, “I’m gonna sit on you” elephant. (Just how selfish was I? Check out Don’t Touch My Big Mac.)

Giving is a habit that I’ve had to culture myself into.  I was having a conversation with my good friend, Richie, last night and I told him that giving was beginning to seem like an extremely demanding obligation, especially right now during the holiday season. I also mentioned that given the amount of time I took off from work to prioritize my health, I wasn’t sure if I could dip into my savings to splurge on family and friends. Richie replied, “Don’t. I’m sure they’ll understand. You’re trying to get to a certain level and they know that.”

I don’t know how looking into the wide-eyes of one of my nephews and saying, “No video game this year… but here’s a nickel” is going to fly, but I know that I have tendency to be an over-giver. And that over-giving during the holidays is often multiplied by 10^100,000 power.

The contradicting messages of “give sacrificially” and “don’t extend yourself beyond your means” never ring truer than during Christmas… Otherwise known as harvest-reaping-holiday-bonus-season at your local Macy’s. Does over-giving stem from a fear of disappointing people? Does it stem from a need to control the perceptions that others have of you?

Regardless of where it comes from- there are solutions!!

Here are 3 ways to break the heavy habit of over-giving:

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1) Only carry the exact amount of cash needed when shopping (courtesy of Dave Ramsey).

You might even want to leave your wallet at home … Just so Leslie-Anne, your neighborhood,-friendly/smiling/happy-go-lucky Target clerk doesn’t emotionalize you into opening a Target credit card at 25% interest rate. If you’re giving gifts, make sure you do your research beforehand- make a list of everyone (…even your often forgotten Golden Retriever, Pete) whom you’re planning to get a gift for. Budget it out and give yourself a small buffer for taxes.

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2) Get creative.

The often belittled Macaroni necklace, as overplayed as it is, is a step in the right direction. What gifts do you have? Are you a singer? Are you a knitter? Poet? Writer? Health-enthusiast? (Hey- you could write a short health ebook for friends and family members.) Use the natural gifts you have to get creative and give… And don’t give yourself an out by saying you have no gifts or you’re “just not creative.” Because that’s a blatant-Enron kind of lie! You’ve created your life up until this point, right? You create your lifestyle habits, food choices, etc- so don’t diminish your God-given creativity because you’re not midnight-album-secret-release-14 song-17 video-Beyonce. You’re creative in your own ways.

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3) Give your time and service.

At the end of it all, the time and effort you’ve used to buy that oh-so-wanted gift, wrap it, and pack it, will be forgotten in the memories of Christmas past. Why not give your time and service to family and friends by maybe helping out with the cleaning? Offering to help cook that gargantuan bird of a turkey-dinner?  Or babysitting the kiddies, so the parents can go out for a movie-night?

You don’t have to be an over-giver this Christmas- just be a purposeful one. Do you have any tips for not falling into the trap of over-giving? Comment below and share with the B.E. community!

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