6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Shop This Holiday Season

6 Questions to Ask 6 Questions to Ask 'Tis the season for holiday shopping, but before you plunge right in, why not shorten your gift list?

Holiday shopping can be delightful, especially early in the season. But soon enough, crowds, traffic, time and budget limits (not to mention the increasingly frenetic noise of the advertising machine) ratchet up the stress until the whole process feels like a burden.

Let's take back the joy of giving presents! Let's leave behind the feelings of obligation and desperation and replace them with the genuine joy of the holidays!

Mind you, when I encourage you to give fewer gifts, I'm not suggesting you tamp down your generosity; I'm just inviting you to consider if tangible gifts are the best way to express it.

Related: 20 awesome gifts for the pet lover in your life

If you're not sure how to begin culling your gift list, ask yourself these 6 questions:

1.) Might some of your giftees feel awkward if they don't have a reciprocal gift for you?
Spare them the discomfort, and let a greeting or phone call be your moment of connection.

2.) Does every service provider in your life need a gift?
Perhaps a generous tip would be more helpful. How about a handwritten, heartfelt card instead of a gift? Teachers, especially, appreciate this. I know I would.

Related: 10 romantic gift ideas for couples that'll make Santa blush

3.) How about a donation instead of a gift?
Good for everyone who already has everything they need and may even be trying to declutter. Especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, a donation is a good reminder that others are struggling with need. You even have an official opportunity: tomorrow is #GivingTuesday.

4.) How about one special present instead of multiples?
Those tantalizing pictures of glittering Christmas trees surrounded by perfectly wrapped boxes are so beautiful, aren't they? But the reality often plays out differently. For kids, especially, the initial WOW of piles of presents can turn into overwhelm or lack of interest (and possibly, greed and entitlement). It's not Grinch-like to say that one or two gifts (or one plus a stocking) is plenty. Plus, the fun is in the anticipation and the opening! Extend that moment with music, fancy hot drinks, a fire in the fireplace, and focused attention on each unwrapping.

5.) How about a small gift instead of a big one?
Some people feel uncomfortable when presented with extravagant gifts. It's fun to make a big splash every now and then, but usually, the most memorable gifts are small treasures that demonstrate how well you know someone.

Related: 7 must-know tips for shopping safely online

6.) How about an experiential gift?
Membership to a local museum, theater or performance tickets, a massage, a night in a hotel? A massage? A week of home-cooked dinners?

Paring down your gift list will save you money and time, and will help you feel calmer during the holidays. But, most importantly, it will help you express your love and gratitude to friends and family in ways everyone will appreciate.

This post is part of Minimalist Holidays, a series inspired by the idea that you can enjoy the holidays more when you do less. A version of this list appeared on Parent Hacks a while back, but upon re-reading it, I realized it was a perfect candidate for a refresher.

- By Asha Dornfest

For 5 things to consider before buying a new camera, visit Babble!

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Asha Dornfest is the founder and editor of Parent Hacks, a blog devoted to sharing unconventional
parenting advice.

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