Reliably Austin
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Streaming troubles? We've made changes. Please click here on for more information.

Why We Spend So Much Money On Holiday Gifts, And How To Give More Thoughtfully

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon
Central Texas certified life and relationship coaches Junice and Rock Rockman say overspending at the holidays is sometimes fueled by a desire to try and buy feelings of happiness and security - however fleeting those may be - during difficult times.

The end of the year is a traditional time for gift-giving — lots of gift-giving. Americans typically spend between $800 and $1,000 on holiday gifts.

Holiday shopping can be fun and enjoyable, but why do some of us excessively spend and stress-out trying to acquire and give the "perfect" holiday gifts?

Is it really all about getting our child the latest and greatest toy or getting our significant other a car (if you believe the television commercials)?

There can actually be a lot more wrapped up — pardon the pun — in the act of gift-giving.

Central Texas life and relationship coaches Junice and Rock Rockman are certified by an International Coaching Federation-accredited program. They say people sometimes use gifts as a way to express things they do not or cannot express otherwise.

"A lot of us don't really want to do the heavy lifting of the emotional work or the communication work that it takes to build those kinds of relational connections," says Junice. "It is a much easier process, a much quicker process just to purchase something, scan it, put it in a bag, and say 'here.'"

Gift-giving is also sometimes used to please others, win them over, or make them happy. But Rock says true happiness will never actually come from external factors such as gifts.

"These individuals, they are responsible for their own happiness," says Rock. "We can't make them happy. How many times have we been disappointed by giving someone a gift that they didn't like?"

Over-the-top gift-givers may derive their own sense of worth and value from the expense and quantity of gifts they give. Junice cautions it is also a fruitless pursuit.

"As long as we are seeking outside of ourselves externalized validation, I don't think it will ever really get filled," says Junice. "It's like a disordered hunger. It's an insatiable want that never really gets satisfied."

Are the Rockmans suggesting to abandon holiday spending and gift-giving all together? Absolutely not! Listen to the Rockmans' conversation with KUT for guidance on how to give and receive gifts mindfully and with purpose during the holidays and year-round:

Jennifer Stayton is the local host for NPR's "Morning Edition" on KUT. Got a tip? Email her at Follow her on X @jenstayton.
Related Content