How To Survive The Stress Of Giving Christmas Gifts

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. However, trying to think of Christmas gift ideas can be a very stressful experience.

Thinking about how many days until Christmas and the thought of buying the perfect Christmas presents in time can be overwhelming.

If you want to know how to deal with the stress and anxiety over Christmas present shopping, then follow these 4 simple tips today.

1) Remember there’s nothing wrong with you if you feel like this

You are not alone. There is nothing wrong with you if you’re feeling stressed about gift-giving this Christmas day. It’s normal to feel that way!

Surveys show that nearly 7 people out of 10 are stressed by the feeling of having a “lack of time” and a “lack of money.” And over 50% of people are stressed about the “pressure to give or get gifts.”

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After you see everyone else enjoying Christmas presents shopping and creating fun lists of what they want to buy, you may feel something is wrong with you because you hate it. There could be so many reasons contributing to why you feel that way.

“The holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy and cheer, parties and family gatherings,” says James Radack, vice president of public affairs for the National Mental Health Association. “But many factors help make the holidays so stressful: fatigue, unrealistic expectations, commercialization, financial constraints, and the inability to be with one’s family and friends.”


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2. Realise that your friends and family probably won’t mind as much as you think they will.

We can panic and get overly stressed about choosing the right Christmas present for the right person. We worry about what others will think of us and what will happen if we get them the wrong gift.

Sometimes these feelings can overwhelm us so much that we just don’t want to buy any Christmas presents at all.

Spending hours upon hours overthinking what is the best Christmas present, DIY Christmas gifts, homemade Christmas gifts, gifts for him, gifts for her, all of this can escalate and create anxiety over the whole holiday season.

Gift-giving can also turn into an unhealthy activity when we try and use it to buy someone’s love. It complicates the whole process and causes further anxiety over the entire holiday season.

Most of us have been taught since early childhood to be kind, courteous, and share with others. The intention behind this is good. But somewhere along the way, we realise that we usually get rewarded either by someone saying thank you or maybe even getting us something in return when we give.

Elephant Journal

When you’re codependent, much of your life is spent trying to control your environment–people included.  This means that often, when you give a gift, you’re trying to fulfill your expectation of a “perfect” scenario.  Most codependents simply think they are generous people, but not only can codependent gift giving hurt your bottom line, it can damage your relationships when people sense your gift comes with emotional strings attached.


If you are anxious and stressed about gift-giving then take a step back and realise that gift-giving is not always about you. When we take the pressure off ourselves and remember that our self-worth is not attached to the gift that we give, then we are more likely to choose a Christmas present that is more meaningful.

3. You don’t need to take on the task of gift-giving by yourself.

You don’t need to do this alone. You can ask for help from a friend and even the person you’re buying a gift for. Surprise Christmas presents can be fun but if it is causing you to be stressed out then it is not worth it.

Asking the person directly what to buy for Christmas or even asking them for some ideas on cool Christmas gifts that they want can take the stress away.

The BBC refers to a statement by Elizabeth Dunn, a psychology professor at the University of British Columbia in Canada and co-author of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending says it like this:

If you have nothing in common, though, Dunn recommends just asking the recipient what they want, or to work off a registry. In fact, research shows that people are more appreciative of gifts they ask for than ones they don’t.

4. Engaging in stress management

Engaging in stress management can help you know how to deal with stress and anxiety when it comes to buying the perfect Christmas presents.

Stress can cause stomach pain, it can cause high blood pressure, and even a heart attack. If you are wondering if can stress makes you sick, then the answer is yes.

Making sure that you are healthy and that your stress is under control is far more important than buying the perfect Christmas present.

Here are some easy ways to engage in stress management these holidays:

Diaphragmatic breathing

Get comfortable in a seated position or lying down, placing one hand on your chest and the other on your stomach. Breathe deeply through your nose, actively expanding your stomach upward, pushing upward on your hand while keeping your chest still. Exhale with slightly puckered lips, expelling all the air from your stomach. Take it slow, and repeat up to 10 times (University of Michigan Health, 2020).

Box breathing

Box breathing can help you regulate your breath. Begin by exhaling completely for four seconds. Then, keep your lungs empty (don’t breathe) for another four seconds. Next, inhale for four seconds at a similar speed. Finally, hold your breath in your lungs for another four seconds before breathing out and starting again (Scott, 2020).

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5. Consider giving DIY Christmas gifts

If you find yourself in a position where you don’t have enough time or money and can’t afford to buy something expensive, consider giving a DIY Christmas gift instead.

Most people are thankful if someone has taken the effort to give them something personalised and thoughtful, no matter how much it costs or how long it took them to come up with an idea.

2010 review suggests that crafting and engaging in creative activities may help decrease anxiety, stress, and mood disturbances, as well improve well-being and quality of life.

Homemade Christmas gifts are an easy solution. You can also give something that does not have a monetary value but still holds a lot of sentimental value to the recipient. An example would be a photo album filled with old photographs in which the recipient appears, or old newspaper clippings about their accomplishments (printed on beautiful and unique paper).

In life, we cannot avoid stress. It is a part of every single human being’s life. I have found that even though it can be an anxiety-provoking experience, the benefits of giving Christmas presents to others far outweighs the stress of buying them. You can survive the stress of gift-giving this Christmas. Keep the tips above in mind when dealing with Christmas present-shopping stress!

If you need to speak to someone today about your mental health, reach out to your local doctor, counsellor, call lifeline in Australia on 13 11 14 or in an emergency call 000 (AUS).