For most of us, gift-giving is no simple affair. In the busy holiday season, the tradition to find the perfect gift causes a lot of stress. But what do we find so frustrating about this simple activity? It seems like many factors can affect the process of finding the perfect gift. One of them is the fear that our loved ones will misunderstand the message we’re trying to communicate. The only way to overcome this gift-choosing monster is to make the dynamics clear.

Issues that make it hard to find the perfect gift for family and friends


stressed to find gifts for loved ones

Symbolism of the ideal present

We like to wrap our gifts in symbolic meaning but, sometimes, we tend to overthink it. Gifts have stopped being just gifts, especially in complicated, conflicted relationships. Depending on whom we give them to, presents can be both a peace-making gesture, as well as a symbol of indifference, dislike or anger. In other words, someone who has a negative stereotype of the gift giver can interpret an expensive gift as trying to show off or buy love. It’s hard to get it right!

Obsessing about the inability to get inside the other person’s head and predicting how they will receive our gift can cause lots of stress. Empathy is an important trait for our psychological well-being. Even so, empathetic people cannot read thoughts and thus, our gifts can look like a sign of not caring enough. We need to break the cycle and stop obsessing about the symbolic meaning behind our gifts and focus on the nice gestures. We’ve written a couple of blogs that could help with this situation. Read Give them what they want? to learn about studies that prove there is a win-win scenario where we can avoid stress, be happier and have our receivers be more appreciative.

Out of time

One of the biggest obstacles that we face nowadays is fitting gift shopping into our endlessly busy schedules. Days that revolve around our work and commitments leave little time for us meeting our friends and loved ones. When the time to offer a present comes, we try to compensate and find the perfect item. Then we realize that we can barely put this on our calendar. But how much time does it take to find the perfect gift?

Usually, people spend a couple of hours to find a Christmas present or to find a birthday present. Unfortunately, we don’t always have an hour to spare, and we end up leaving it to the last minute. This is the main reason why all the stores are packed even on Christmas Eve. Try to allocate enough time for gift shopping to prevent a lot of unnecessary pressure. Last-minute shopping isn’t the best strategy, as it can lead to making very bad and desperate choices. This amount of pressure can cloud our judgment and make us buy any gift, sometimes way over budget and wrong in so many ways.


We always obsess about how much money we spend, how much we can actually afford, and how much our loved ones are going to spend on us. Considering how indecisive we can be, to find gifts that align with the budget and these emotions can generate a lot of stress. Spending too little or too much is equally bad. Will your sister’s $50 watch seem cheap compared to your mother’s $150 designer bag? Not if that’s what they really wanted!

Relationships built around money can turn gift finding & shopping into an unpleasant situation. Turns out most people aren’t that focused on the financial value of a present but on the emotional one. It is important to remember that our loved ones will most likely dismiss the financial value of a present. For example, a card your 5-year old made will be seen as more valuable than a $100 bathrobe. Isn’t that a relief?

Fear of failure to find the perfect gift

When we try to reduce our costs for energetic or financial reasons, we end up feeling that we are disappointing the recipients. The fear of failing to find the perfect gift can force us to give beyond our means. The most affected are those of us who are generally worried about what others think. As a result, we might invest way too much time and energy into trying to get others’ approval and make the right impression. To avoid this, we need to remember that the emotional value of a gift will always matter more!

Although it can feel like the world will come to an end if we cut back, adopting new gift-giving norms can reduce the burden we place upon ourselves. Wanting to give back, and give great gifts to the people we care about comes naturally. Yet, taking more care of your personal well-being can go a long way. Removing the stress associated with gift-giving can result in finally being able to give something with all your heart. So, put that shopping session on your calendar and keep in mind that you’ve got this!


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Our mission at WishSlate is to increase the joy of gifting. We want to eliminate some of this stress, guilt and disappointment. Our mobile app helps manage your network of family and friends, track occasions and make it easy to find great gifts. The WishSlate app, reminds you about upcoming occasions and helps you manage your time from finding the right gift to making sure you get the right gift in time.
Survey by Ziffit, Brits throw 66 million of unwanted bags to prepare for the holiday season.
Study by Stanford and Harvard on how receivers like explicitness in gift-giving.

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