As the holiday season quickly approaches, it is once again time to buy the perfect present for friends and family, while still managing your money.

On a tight budget and with the time ticking away, it can be hard to find the perfect gift. However, despite the stress and the impending emptiness of your wallet, giving presents will make you happier this holiday season. The Social Capital Community Benchmark Survey showed that those who give presents are 42% more likely to say they are completely happy this holiday season. Also, they are 34% less likely to say nothing could cheer them up this holiday season. I, for one, can vouch.

It was 8 o’clock at night, and I was browsing through the halls of WalMart, looking for the perfect gift. I knew exactly what to get, and all I had to do was find it. I was looking for the perfect Hello Kitty backpack for an eight year old girl named Charisma. I had never seen her before. I found her through a charity featured in chapel that gave students the opportunity to buy Christmas presents for orphans. I thought it was a great idea and looked for a child to buy a present for. I was skimming through names of the children and their wish lists, looking for anything interesting. Endoxa. Benjamin. Charisma. Then I saw the name Charisma and fell in love instantly. To me, her name was beautiful. I grabbed her name card without a second thought and made my way back to the chapel bleachers, excited to buy this little girl a Christmas present.

[one_third]I could see myself grabbing the best looking Hello Kitty backpack off the rack and taking it home to wrap it.[/one_third]

Soon, I am WalMart trying to find Charisma her present. As I enter the store, I am ready to shop. I could see myself grabbing the best looking Hello Kitty backpack off the rack and taking it home to wrap it. I would make her a beautiful card and she would be overjoyed that she got what she wanted for Christmas. Standing at the store entrance, I felt so close to getting her present and could almost feel it in my hands.

Frantically, I search the store for anything Hello Kitty. I see the Girl’s Section, and the racks are covered in Hello Kitty skirts, shirts, and jackets. I see Hello Kitty watches, stretch toys, and stationary, decorated with the pink and white logo. I scurry over and search for backpacks. Pokemon….Sophia the Great….Floral….but no Hello Kitty backpacks? I run around, with my family searching as well. I ask a worker and she gives me a strange look. She mumbles something but I cannot make sense of it because of her thick Indian accent and the fact that I’m so nervous for this little girl. The lady leaves, saying she will ask and come back. What if Charisma owns everything Hello Kitty but only needs a backpack to complete her collection?

The worker returns and gives me a grim look. No more backpacks with the little Sanrio girl. I end up buying Charisma a small wristlet, a box with pens and stickers, and a stationary set. Hopefully this will suffice. I wrap it in the prettiest bag I could find, and decorated a Christmas card with Hello Kitty all over it. I bring it to school next day, where I am told my gift is perfectly fine.

Despite all of the stress and worry about not getting the perfect present, the experience was great. It felt wonderful to do something good this Christmas season, and hopefully spread the holiday cheer. I cannot wait to do this again next year. Despite not getting exactly what my child had wanted on the list, I still felt great knowing that I did my best to make a child happy this Christmas.

So if you’re trying to get all of your Christmas shopping done, don’t fret too much. You might find yourself wrapping presents at 1 a.m. with an empty wallet, but at least both the giver and receiver will feel much happier than before. This, in my opinion, is worth much more than money.

Image credit: James L. Amos / Photo Researchers / Universal Images Group / Rights Managed