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Christmas Calculations Stressing You Out? I'm Here to Help

Updated on December 6, 2011

Double-up on the valium and breakout your mental calculator; it’s Christmas and time to put your math skills to work. It’s not the family obligations, parties that you don’t want to go to, crowds, or chipper Christmas music played on continuous loop that make the holiday season so stressful. No, the stress comes from the constant need to calculate the Gift Giving To Receiving Ratio, or GGTRR, over and over again in a holiday season mathematical marathon.


What is the GGTRR? You are already familiar with it; you just never gave it a name. It is the value of the gift that you give to someone divided by the value of the gift that they give to you. In any exchange of gifts, we want this value to be as close to 1 as possible, meaning that the gifts are of equal value.

The need to constantly weigh the value of one gift against another, to remember what was given in the past and where people are on the gift value hierarchy- it’s exhausting. Don’t even think about the mental gymnastics involved if the GGTRR was way off last year. Say you gave to a friend last year a gift that cost three times what their gift to you cost, what do you do this year? Hold steady and hope that they move up? Get something less expensive only to find that they did move up?

Now, to those who immediately protest, thinking to themselves that they do not compare the value of the gifts that they receive to those given, that Christmas is about giving, not receiving, I ask this simple question: How many gifts do you give to those who, year in and year out, give you no gifts? None. Just as I thought.

Our motivations behind the calculations are not entirely selfish. There is some discomfort involved in giving someone a gift year after year and never receiving anything in return, even if we don’t really want anything in return. What does this unrequited giving mean? They don’t want our gifts? They don’t like our gifts? They don’t like us? We don’t want to force our gifts on anyone. What does it say about our friendship? We wonder if we have become that obsequious kid who was in every grade school class, the one that would do anything just to be your friend.

Then there is the added tension when, after a couple of years of unrequited gift giving, we decide not to give that person anything. Will this be the year that they remember us, send a little something for Christmas morning and then we leave them hanging?

Even for the best intentioned, those who truly do believe that it is better to give than to receive, it is an impossible situation.

I Am Here To Help

Fortunately, I am here to help. I can’t solve all your gift giving dilemmas, but in the true spirit of the season, I want to give to you the gift of peace of mind, the chance to give one gift this Christmas unencumbered by the rigorous requirements of the GGTRR, a chance to live out in its purest form the old refrain that it is better to give than to receive.

Send to me one gift ($50 or greater value please and include receipt) and I will not send you anything in return, not this year, not next year, not ever. I will be thrilled with whatever you send (or whatever I exchange it for). There will be no GGTRR to calculate, no nervous wondering about what it means that you bought me an Ipad and I got you soap on a rope. No, you can experience the pure joy of knowing that you made my Christmas the best ever. I mean, at least until next year, you don’t want to get something started this year and then let me down next year that would be horrible…


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