Editorial | Reconsider the meaning of gift giving

The air is chilly — the perfect weather for a steamy cup of hot cocoa. Holiday music plays in just about every store you step in. The excitement of an upcoming break from school or work lingers on the top of everyone’s minds. These are all telltale signs that the holiday season is finally here. 

But have you thought of what gifts you’re getting for your loved ones yet?

Giving gifts has become synonymous with the holiday season. Although people may attribute this tradition to holidays that occur during this time such as Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, there are actually many other powerful entities that secretly shape our outlook on spending money during the holidays: money-hungry corporations.

As early as October, companies will spend billions of dollars on retail advertising and stock shelves with holiday merchandise to prematurely spread holiday cheer, and of course, remind consumers that it’s time to buy gifts for the holidays. The amount spent on ads is only increasing every year, and for good reason — it pays off.

In 2021, retail spending in the months of November and December amounted to $889.3 billion, a 13.5% increase from 2020 retail spending during that same period. Holiday retail spending is also projected to increase in 2022.

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Many of the facets of what an “ideal” gift should look like are pushed on consumers by corporations that want to increase spending every year, which overemphasizes the gift aspect of the holiday season and pushes everything else to the sidelines.

The holidays are a time to cherish your loved ones, enjoy the presence of their company and take a much-needed break at the end of the year. Not everyone can afford to give what corporations regard as an “ideal” gift, which can put a damper on the cheer for many people and get in the way of what the holidays are actually about.

Gift giving can be a great way to express your gratitude and affection for someone, but it’s not the only method of doing so.

Sometimes, the best gift you can give is simply being around and spending quality time with the people you love. Cooking or sharing a meal, creating handmade tokens of your appreciation or engaging in fun holiday activities are all ways that you can still show someone you love and care for them without breaking the bank.

If you haven’t bought gifts for your loved ones already, consider thinking outside the gift box this holiday season.


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