Holidays: Stressful or Delightful?

Kaitlin Davenport, Journalist

With Christmas comes crowded malls, shipping delays, and highly priced products. 

The Holiday season is arguably the busiest time of year worldwide and with so many holidays jam packed into a four month timeline, it’s common for someone to get overloaded and stressed. 

According to Harvard Business Review, studies show that over 37% of Americans say they are much more stressed during the holidays compared to the 8% who claim they’re actually happier. Much of this stress can be traced back to prices, especially this year, funds can be tight due to the ongrowing pandemic and keep consumers from buying what their loved ones desire.

“Running out of money is a big worry of mine,” Kiera Reichard, 11, said. “ I don’t mind spending it but I need to budget it well based on when I get paid. Do I want to get this person an expensive gift? Will my gift be enough to make them happy?”

Money isn’t the only common concern for people shopping for presents, some people simply don’t know what to get. As kids get older, people often find it hard to read their minds and figure out what they truly want.

“Some people don’t know what they want, so it stresses me out,” Reichard, 11, said. “I have two twelve year old siblings and they never know what they want, you basically have to make up a list for them.”

The pressure of satisfying and bringing happiness to loved ones through presents seems like a common issue consumers have. With shelves clearing up in no time and money running low, consumers, and especially parents, worry they won’t meet expectations in time.

“Have a budget,” Ms. Jeanette Muncie, an Economics and Personal Finance teacher, said. “You don’t have to buy everything on someone’s list and time is so much more valuable than anything you could buy somebody. Maybe plan to spend time with that person, go out to a movie, take them to lunch.”

Many consumers go over and beyond what others and even themselves expected as reported by CNBC Select, 86% of millennials spent more than they planned to. One in five of those who overspent claimed to have spent five hundred or more over their budget. 

“I always go over budget, but I’m fifteen,” Nora Eley, 11, said. “ I don’t drive, I don’t pay for gas, I don’t pay for utilities, and I get an allowance so I’m not too worried about it. It’s not like the money is never going to come back and I don’t need the money for anything else right now.”

Although many feel stressed, some feel Christmas brings them happiness as well. Even if shopping and commutes to the store can feel draining, it all can be worth it in the end. 

“It makes me feel happy, I like getting presents for people even if it comes out of my own pocket because I can always make the money back but not the experiences,” Reichard said. “After buying everyone presents, on Christmas you get presents so you get things in return too.”

Thinking up ideas for presents can be stressful, but also exciting and fun to plan out what to get for somebody. Letting the stress overtake the joy could take away experiences or memories and turn them into a negative.

“I think gift giving and acts of service are two of my main love languages,” Eley said. “I really tend to pour a lot into the things that I give to other people. I put a lot of thought into my gifts and I usually give multiple things.”

A solution to the stress could be setting a boundary. Even though getting something expensive and pretty feels nice, it won’t feel so nice once the bill comes in.

“If someone gives me an idea for a gift and it’s really expensive, I’m not going to buy it,” Muncie said. “I’m not going to get stressed over whether or not I should spend it.”

The biggest contributor of holiday stress can be easily solved by limiting oneself. Finding ways to make someone happy while saving money has a very fine, but reachable, line.

“I feel better about myself when I buy things for people,” Eley said. “I feel like I’m showing I love them. It’s nice and personal when you give somebody a piece of something to remember you by.”

Christmas can be a source of stress, but only if one lets it. Keeping oneself joyful and happy around the holidays is much easier to achieve than others realize, and success in pleasing others doesn’t always relate to a big price tag.

“For my family, we gather together and open gifts which is always fun to see people’s reactions,” Eley said. “We do Christmas dinner, we talk a lot, all of that, it’s very social for us and a great decompressing day.”