More threads by David Baxter PhD

David Baxter PhD

Late Founder
Are You a Grinch or a Giver?
December 11, 2007
New York Times Blog

It?s that time of year when friends and family take part in that annual holiday ritual ? debating the merits of the gift exchange.

After my recent blog post about holiday shopping, I was surprised how many readers wrote of their disdain for gift-giving.

?I?ve been boycotting X/Cess (my nickname for Christmas) for several years now. I do not give gifts, I politely tell people not to give me Any More Stuff, and I do not decorate.? ? Posted by Lorie.​
?My husband and I do not exchange gifts, and it has been hard trying to convince our families not to give us gifts either?.We are thinking of trying for children soon, and do not want our children to receive all the latest gadgets from their grandparents and six aunts and uncles twice a year. We don?t like the spirit of materialism it represents.? ? Posted by Ellen.​
Their comments inspired me to learn more about the psychology of gift-giving. In my Well column in Science Times this week, I wrote about what social psychologists and other scientists say about the intangible value of gifts. While it?s reasonable to cut back on spending during the holidays, psychologists say that banning the gift exchange entirely is not the best solution. People who stop giving gifts may be missing out on an important connection with family and friends.

My former Wall Street Journal colleague Jeff Opdyke and his wife Amy recently argued about the value of giving presents to adult friends and family. In a video segment called Love & Money, Jeff says he believes many of the gifts they give and receive during the holidays are a waste of money. Amy thinks giving represents far more than the material value of a gift. Their banter is amusing, but it underscores a serious point that affects so many families. What is the real value of a gift? To watch their argument, click here.

My friends Grace, Jen and Heidi have come up with an alternative ? a fierce holiday competition to create the perfect homemade gift. Past entries have included Heidi?s homemade sweet potato pie kits, complete with frozen filling and directions. Jen created a ?box of love'? that contained personal declarations about their friendship. Grace has created a music video celebrating a problem-plagued bathroom renovation and this year is planning a homemade pop-up book featuring Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre for Jen, a die-hard Packers fan.

What do you think? How do you handle the stress of the holiday gift exchange? Have you banned gift-giving altogether or have you come up with another solution to cope with the commercialism of the holidays?


The only real frustration for me is the lack of money to buy what I want for others. I get things that are practical, and toys for the kids, but I had to scale way back from what I am used too.
I am a giver and having to act like a grinch..:hair:


I am a giver and having to act like a grinch

Same for me sunset. My family is much too large for gift giving but we do anyway, usually with some new agreement each year. Sometimes it is only homemade, or for chidren only, or only food and/or recipes. This year it is dollar store gifts. :heart: Mari

Daniel E.
This year it is dollar store gifts.

BTW, I love the dollar stores in my area. Some of the stuff they have like 10 dish sponges for $1 make Walmart look expensive.

For gifts for my relatives, I usually buy stuff on sale earlier in the year, namely stuff mentioned at SlickDeals.
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Hi everyone :wave4:
I am a giver by heart, but due lack of money I feel like a grinch.
Not being able to give my loved ones something special for Christmas makes me feel sad.
Not to be able to buy the grandkids something to make their eyes pop open with joy.
But the best thing I can give them is TIME so I plan to spend special time with my family this Christmas,and I'm really looking forward to that.

Seasons Greetings Everyone


Some of the most awesome and definitely the most creative presents I have gotten have been homemade! I think it's way cool to get those types of presents! I definitely envy people who are talented and creative enought to make things. The dollar store theme is a really creative idea too! Very awesome!
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