How much should you spend on presents for close friends and not-so-close friends?

Dear Gwyn,

With the holidays upon us, I’m not sure how much money I should spend on gifts for friends. I am closer with some of my friends and family than others; how do I decide how much to spend?

What’s that old expression, “It is better to give than receive” ?  Truthfully, who doesn’t love finding the perfect gifts for our friends and family?  That “just right” gift may be a sentimental knickknack or an over the top diamond tennis bracelet, but it is always about the meaning and thought that went into the item more than the price.

Determining your budget for gifts starts by knowing your total budget.  Once you’ve set your budget, start to think about the gifts for each of the individuals and you’ll have a guideline for how much to spend by person.  You may have to select one of the less expensive items to keep you gifting within your budget and you may be pleasantly surprised by finding a great sale on a gift that was otherwise too expensive.

Friends and family members span the gamete within our relationship spectrum and figuring out gifts always seems to highlight this spectrum.  An easy guide to figuring out appropriate gifts is by simply determining the gifts that show appreciation in a manner that reflects your love or appreciation for the individual without being overshadowed by the gift itself.

  • Not-so-close or We’re-not-exchanging gifts Friends and Family: These family and friends mean a lot to you. They are people you stay in touch with but have either decided not to exchange gifts or sending a gift would be unusual.  A simple gift that shows you are thinking of them is the most appropriate gift. You may choose to send a holiday card or drop off homemade cookies.  Whatever you decide, keep the message of friendship at the forefront and the token as merely a messenger.
  • Close Friends and Family: Even for your close friends and family, it is the meaning behind the gift that will always out-shine a big ticket item. Sometimes the two intersect but for often than not, a thoughtful present will be remembered long after the new iPhone is replaced by the next version. Think about the recipients interest, activities or hobbies you share, or experiential gifts you can enjoy together.

As you hand out the last gift, take a deep breath another swig of your Tom & Jerry and remember that you are fortunate to have your friends and family to share the holidays.

9 Responses

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    • Gwyn says:


      If you would like to provide a link to the post, that would be the most appreciated form of flattery. Thank you!

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