We are heading into one of the busiest times of the year for the retail market. A new Deloitte forecast predicts that folks will spend up to 9% more this holiday period as compared to 2020. The Retail Council of Canada’s 4th annual Holiday Shopping Survey, of over 2,500 Canadians from coast to coast, found that average holiday spending this year is expected to be $792 as compared to $693 last year. This is good news for the economy. However, it may not be welcome news for those who have to deal with co-workers, friends and family that plan get-togethers that include gift exchanges.

Be Direct and Honest with Good Manners

If participating in a gift exchange will likely be hard on the pocketbook, then just politely decline. “Sorry, I just can’t manage that extra expense at the moment.” Or “I’m not able to participate this year but thank you for the invitation.” People will understand and appreciate your being forthright. Colleagues or friends definitely don’t want you to feel obligated to become broke over the Christmas season. 

Let the host know in plenty of time of your decision, too. To lessen the impact, perhaps offer to bring an extra appetizer or dessert to the party.

What if Direct Doesn’t Work

We all have those people in our lives who get very easily offended if we try the direct approach. You could suggest “In lieu of gifts, I’m planning on giving money to a charitable organization this year.” No one will be the wiser if you can only afford to donate $5.

Make a Suggestion for Something Else

You could suggest doing an activity as a group like volunteering at a Homeless Shelter, Seniors Home, or the Salvation Army. Another possibility is for everyone to bake cookies together in order to enjoy each another’s company and have fun in the kitchen. 

Make it a Homey Gift Exchange

You could also suggest to the Host of making a rule that the gift exchange be anything homemade or consumable, for example a cookie exchange.

The purpose for getting together in the first place is to reconnect and enjoy being with those you care about most. The gifts should be secondary, anyway. Keep that in mind and your get-togethers will be memorable for all of the right reasons.

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