One of the joys of holiday shopping is buying gifts for yourself

Treat yourself.
Treat yourself.
Image: Reuters/Jim Young
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Gift-giving is supposed to be about others, a way to buy the people in your life something thoughtful to show your gratitude, love, and consideration. It’s a nice idea, in theory at least.

The reality is that buying the right gifts can often feel like a stress-inducing, consumerist chore. You’re never quite certain if the clothes you’re picking are the right size or style. That bottle of expensive booze may sound great to you, but not to them. Don’t even think about phoning it in with that nondescript candle. It can be easier knowing which gifts to avoid than which to shell out for.

But you know whose size you don’t have to guess? Whose taste you can be sure you’ll always get right? Who won’t regift or stash your gift in a closet and refer to it months later as “clutter”? You, that’s who. And while you’re browsing endlessly through all the Black Friday deals online or elbowing your way through the holiday-shopping hordes, it’s likely you’ll spot something you want for yourself.

That’s perfectly fine. Buying a gift for yourself is one of the things that can make holiday shopping enjoyable.

Though many self-gifters reproach themselves for the distraction from their gift-shopping list, they can take some comfort in knowing they are far from alone. A survey last year by research firm NPD Group noted that holiday shoppers were planning to spend more money on themselves than the year before. This holiday season, the annual shopping survey by the consulting firm Deloitte found that 78% of respondents planned to shop for themselves. These shoppers tend to get themselves food and liquor, clothes, shoes, and electronics—a popular self-gifting option for men, who are starting to buy more for themselves, according to JLL Retail, part of investment management group JLL.

One reason, of course, is that is that people love to get a deal, and the holidays are sale season. It becomes an opportunity to find something you’ve wanted at a discount.

It can also be a hectic time of year, when we feel particularly in need of a pick-me-up. “I think this time of year can get pretty stressful, so it’s nice to remember you need to care for yourself as well as loved ones,” one woman told CNBC last year. “And a little retail therapy always makes me happy.”

That’s really the point, to show yourself some consideration and appreciation. So it makes sense to keep in mind some of the same rules you might follow when shopping for others.

For example, don’t just buy stuff because it’s cheap, or because you already happen to be in the store. That’s the nondescript-candle approach. Instead, go the route of the fancy candle, which is to say, allow yourself to indulge in an unnecessary luxury you wouldn’t otherwise spend the money on. (Very nice wool socks, believe it or not, are a good option.)

A gift doesn’t have to be a thing, either. It can be an experience, like a spa trip, a date night at the theater, or a pasta-making class, which is really a gift of quality time.

The best thing about self-gifting is that whatever you’re buying, you can be sure you’ll find a grateful and appreciative recipient.