Personally, I am somebody who absolutely loves buying presents it gives me a huge amount of pleasure from the thinking up of what to buy, to actually going out and purchasing the gift and then wrapping it carefully so that it looks beautiful, I’ve always loved buying presents.

However, as I have got older and as time has become more precious, I have re-evaluated how I buy presents and for whom during the festive season of Christmas. As much as I like buying presents, which I still do, I have become very aware of the pressures on other people on both their time, their budgets, and their desire to actually find a present that they think is either suitable or that I will love.

Surely this shouldn’t be what present buying is about? Surely it should be a pleasure for all parties? I can remember a friend once told me that they always found it really stressful buying me presents because they knew how much love and care I put into buying theirs and therefore they felt they had a lot to live up to which made me feel dreadful (not their intention) obviously I would never in a million years want somebody to feel like this.

What about you? Have you been in that position where the buying of the present has caused you so much anxiety it’s made you miserable?

I know from my own experience that the little things like the postage, sending presents overseas to people I love very much can be equally as stressful particularly when the presents don’t arrive in time delayed by the Postal Service itself. What about the people that say, “let’s not worry about Christmas presents this year” and you know full well that they won’t be able to resist buying you a little something?

Well, I think it’s time to shake things up a bit -this will come of no surprise to you!

Over the last couple of years friends, family, loved ones in my life have changed things a little to try and take some of the stress out of Christmas. For example, my loved ones overseas and I have decided to take the stress out of present buying and more particularly postage and have agreed to go out and buy something for ourselves for certain amount of money knowing that the other person would thoroughly approve. It has to be a treat and you’re not allowed to go over budget but rather than trying to fight the Postal Service, this is a really nice way to still do something lovely but without the stress.

Another present buying habit that has changed in our household is the one between my husband and myself. Gone are the years of writing out lists or explaining to each other what the other would like or wistfully hoping but they will come up with a surprise, which they either don’t, OR the surprise is not necessarily the surprise you were after so me and hubby agree on the amount of money each year and then go out and buy our own gifts. Once again, the only rule is it has to be something considered a treat. Now I appreciate that for some this will not feel like a treat, and I totally get that, but on the other hand it does mean that we get to buy things that perhaps we wouldn’t usually treat ourselves to, neither of us feels under pressure to buy the right gift and to be honest with you it’s been a far more pleasurable experience than many of the previous Christmases.

What about revising your present list? Are there people on there who if you asked would actually be relieved NOT to have to buy presents? Can you have an honest conversation with them and suggest that this year you either don’t buy for each other OR you set a budget to keep it manageable? I know people find this really hard to ask the question but I think you will be surprised by the relief most people feel actually talking about it.

Are there things that you could substitute for actual physical gifts? Would a friend love you to babysit for them one evening? Could you suggest you and a friend arrange to have a meal together maybe in January when there’s not much going on – you don’t have to go out, you could cook something together, a shared experience? For book lovers, i’ve always found a parcel of charity shop books packaged up in a gift bag is a lovely gift – at 50p and £1.00 a book you can get quite a few and if they’ve already read them, they can re-gift them?

Of course, all of these things are personal preference but that’s just it, sometimes we need to stop and take a look at what really works for us rather than just following old habits or traditions for the sake of it. We are allowed to give ourselves the permission to do things differently, we do not have to do what we have always done ESPECIALLY if it causes you huge amounts of stress! What can you do to change your present buying habits? What small changes could you make so that once again it becomes a more pleasurable experience rather than causing you endless anxiety?