How to give without expectations - and fight "Gift Guilt"

The Holidays are about feeling GOOD...Right?

December 19, 2019
My gift to you is my nose

I don't know what it is about the holidays, maybe it's just the fact that Christmas is now associated with GIFTS, it's nauseatingly commercialized.

Sales! Cyber Monday! Deals! Discounts! TODAY ONLY! Then on the other hand you're being beaten over the head with DONATE - give to THIS charity! No - give to THIS charity! The holidays are all about GIVE GIVE GIVE!!!

It can be overwhelming. It inspired me to write a tweet...which I don't do often:

Here's the thing...maybe it's obvious, or maybe it needs to be said to someone:


You can't single handedly save the world, or make every person in your life happy with a gift. Furthermore, what's the point of giving all your money to something, only to further cripple your own financial self and add undue stress to an already stressful holiday season?

sad gift given

You don't have to even give money! Like I said, you can give your time to an organization. Or just drop off a meal or two at the local homeless shelter. Or give a genuine compliment to someone. As corny as it sounds, maybe you give a hug to a friend in need. You can just give a smile to someone who looks down.

Here's an idea - write someone a quick email or a letter. Handwritten letters go a LONG way to a lot of people, and cost you nothing more than a piece of paper and some ink. Plus - it shows you took the time to sit down and physically write something. Old school? Maybe. But I promise it makes an impact.

christmas note

Gifts don't have to be material to have meaning. Marketing and commercials will have you feeling different, as is shown here with the guy who buys his wife and himself matching trucks:


A gift doesn't have to be unwrapped. A gift doesn't have to be ordered online, or have a handsome balance attached to it.

What matters is that when the gift that is given, is done so without expectations. A gift that is given just because you care about someone means the world. When you give without expecting anything in return, you are TRULY giving. You don't have to brag about it on social media and hope you get a bunch of likes, you don't have to tell all your friends at work, or even brag about giving to your family or friends.

gift kids

When you give and expect something in return, you have immediately made the gift selfish, right? This includes "giving just because you feel like you have to".

How crappy would you feel if you were a fly on the wall when someone said "Ugh...I better get Riggs something, here - let me re-gift this ceramic elephant." Giving out of supposed obligation sucks.  Now you're giving a gift so YOU feel better...

This should ease your guilt about RECEIVING a gift. Have you ever gotten something from someone, and then thought to yourself "damnit, I didn't get THEM anything!". That feels awful, doesn't it? But WHY do we feel that way?

If a gift has been given to us, it has most likely been done so by the person because they just happened to be thinking of you when they saw something at a store. They gave because they WANT to give you something because they genuinely care. You don't HAVE to reciprocate a gift. The moment you feel like you HAVE to, you are putting undue stress on your own mental health, and creating unnecessary stress.

jealous gift

Think about it. If someone gave you something without expectations, why would they resent you for not reciprocating? If that's the case - why did they give you something in the first place? That is a THEM problem, not a YOU problem.

Now I'm not saying to just sit there like a king, and wait for people to bring you gifts...don't get out of hand here. But I'm saying we don't need to be so obsessed with reciprocating to a point that we wind up giving that person a gift in return, just because they gave us something...what's the good in that?

And I'm CERTAINLY not saying to be ungrateful...because that's just rude...

Now let's say someone buys you a gift and you honestly MEANT to give them a gift, but maybe you can't afford can still show your gratitude for the gift with a simple text, phone call, or even better - a handwritten note.

The only thing that pairs a gift given without expectations, is genuine gratitude for the gift that was received. Sometimes you don't NEED to return with a gift, you only need to show your gratitude. Tell them that you are grateful for the gift. A thank you can also be a gift given in return.


So the next time someone gives you a gift, and you didn't get THEM anything, don't put the stress on yourself and feel like you have to run out and reciprocate. Try just being genuinely gracious for the gift. This will help you fight off that holiday gift guilt, and enjoy the holidays for the good spirits and kindness, not the material gifts and commercialism.

Boy I hope that all made sense.

I promise, it'll do wonders for your mental health this holiday season.

Just trying to help everyone feel a little better, nobody should feel guilty for any reason this time of year or ANY time of year.