A Quick Guide To Gifting With ADHD

Planning & Budgeting Steps To Reduce Stress

Published on
December 15, 2023

If you celebrate any holidays this season, there’s a chance your loved ones may participate in some form of formal gift giving. Or, perhaps you just want to surprise some of the special people in your life with a nice gesture.

Unfortunately, the gifting experience doesn’t always go as planned. You can have the best of intentions, but gift giving requires a lot of planning, decision-making, and budgeting - all of which can be challenging tasks for adults with ADHD.

Without the right strategy, gifting can easily turn a beautiful celebration into an anxiety-provoking event. Here are some basic steps to help make gifting easier this season.

Plan Your Holiday Gifting: Step-by-Step Guide

Step One: List People You’d Like To Purchase For

The first step is to determine who you’d like to buy a gift for and create a master “gift list” where everything stays in one place. One of the ways I like to gather my list is to go through my phone address book and pull out names to try to make sure I get everyone (even those I may not talk to frequently).

The odds are, if you want to give them a gift, you probably have some way you stay in contact with them. Go through your email address book, ask your partner who you talk about frequently, your calendar invites to any engagements you went to this past year, etc. Utilize your resources to create this list!

Tip: Try to think about who you’d like to give a gift compared to who you’d just like to see for the holiday season! You don’t have to give everyone a gift, you can offer to treat them to a lunch or write a gratitude letter that you’re happy to have them around this year.

Step Two: Determine Your Holiday Budget

Start by looking at the big picture—consider your income, regular expenses, and any upcoming bills. Once you have a clear picture of what you need to keep in the bank, with whatever is left over, decide on a realistic amount that won't put a strain on your wallet.

Remember, it’s not the cost of the gift that counts - it’s the thought. You can also do homemade gifts or baked goods. You just need to know the total you’re working with - you don’t need to judge it!

📋Break it down. Break down this total budget into smaller amounts for each person on your gift list. If you have a total of $200 to spend and 5 people you want to spend it on, you know you have roughly $40/per person to spend. If you know you want to spend a little more on your partner, and one person on your list you’d like to get them a small gesture, you might have those switched to $60 & $20.

Step Three: Find The Gifts

Ideally, we would have time time to put together some ideas of what someone might like but with the rush of people seeing soon, it can feel like to much pressure and you just want to give up. It’s okay for it to not be the perfect gift, it can be a practical gift or something you know they like even if it isn’t a huge surprise. We often but such a high expectation on how we want someone to respond to a gift, again, we are focusing on the gesture that we thought about them and that they are special to us.

Here are some beginning ideas on how to get started:

  • Does your loved one have Pinterest, or a public Amazon wish list that you can take a peek at? If so, that’s a great place to get inspiration, or even just to purchase the item itself!
  • Type some of their hobbies and interests into ChatGPT, or an AI gift-suggestion tool like Ollie and ask for recommendations for gifts to buy this person. Let AI help you brain storm!
  • Try to write 5 words down that describe your loved one. Using those 5 words, you can try to search “gifts for someone who is __________” and see what others have come up with previously.

P.S. There’s no shame in asking someone for ideas. If you feel comfortable, you can be honest and share that you struggle with gift giving and knowing what people like, but it’s important to you to let them know how much you care if they could help give you a few suggestions. It might feel uncomfortable, but it will reiterate your point of how much love you have for them!Don’t want to ask them directly? Ask their partner, parent, or friend for additional ideas and ask them to keep it between you two 🤫

Step Four: Ordering Gifts On Time

If you get a decent head start on gift-buying, or if you shop in person, this step is probably not too important. If you’re ordering online, though, and there is a specific date the gift(s) need to arrive by, it’s important to remember to account for shipping time.

Once you have an idea of what you want to purchase for each of your loved ones, make note of any in-between time you’ll need for wrapping, travel, etc. For example, if you’re ordering Christmas gifts that need to be under a tree on the 25th, you might decide the 23rd is the very latest you can have gifts arrive so you have adequate time for wrapping.

Once you know the date gifts must arrive by, then the first thing you should check when you visit an online retail site is shipping time and policy. Sites like Amazon usually make shipping time easily visible on each product listing; for other sites, like Etsy, it may not be as easy - but determining if the shipping window will work for you first helps you avoid accidentally ordering things that won’t arrive on time. It also helps you avoid disappointment and frustration (which can slow down the whole process) if you get your heart set on a particular gift and then see that it won’t arrive on time.

(Optional) Step Five: Planning Ahead For Next Year

Keep a note in your phone, notebook, or excel sheet of the people you want to buy presents for. Throughout the year, when they mention things they like, rather than taking a ‘mental note’ (which is likely to be forgotten), jot it down really quickly. That way at the end of the year, you’ve collected several ideas to choose from that you’ve heard them directly say. There’s a great Notion template for holiday gifts!

Better yet, if you like to utilize tech, set up some price alerts on those items so when deals hit you can snag those presents at a discounted price! Adult ADHD usually comes with an ADHD tax, but it doesn’t have to here.

(Oh, and if you were on step four above, and found great gifts that won’t arrive on time, save a link to the product and put it in your calendar to order next year in advance!)

Example of what it might look like through the months:

So, there you have it—navigating the holiday gift-giving hustle with adult ADHD might be a little bit of juggle, but it's not about buying the perfect present - it’s the thought and joy behind remembering a person - and making it a priority to show your appreciation (in whatever form that takes).

🎁 Happy gift giving!

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