Holiday 2011 Trend: More Gifts Under the Tree ... For Me Crystal Honores, 35, an editor from Tarrytown, N.Y., took on freelance gigs this year to pay off credit card bills and student loan debt. There was little left over for extras.

Now though, she has worked down a chunk of her debt and has more discretionary income. So she plans to spend more this Christmas -- on herself. Honores is already eyeing a Miele canister vacuum, and accessories like new scarves, belts and jewelry.

She won't be alone at the checkout counter. This holiday season, many American consumers will spend more on gifts for themselves, the National Retail Federation reports. According to a NRF survey, 60% of shoppers polled plan to shell out $130.43 for their own gifts, up from $112.20 in 2010.

Recession-scarred shoppers are tired of cutting back, and ready to give in to their pent up spending impulses, experts say.

There's a feeling of "buy now because you might not be able to buy it later, because you might not have a job," says Honores. "It's a very carpe diem attitude."

Recession Fatigue

"Most people have viewed profligate spending as bad manners coming out of the recession," Paco Underhill, founder of Envirosell, the consumer behavior research and consulting firm, tells DailyFinance. Suddenly, "we were taking pride in how little we spend rather than how much."

But a certain recession fatigue has now set in among consumers. "And the holidays are a season that give us permission to open up our wallets."

Lew Paine, senior vice president of GFK Consumer, a retail, technology and media market research firm, agreed.

"Consumers have been deferring purchases and practicing fairly severe austerity since the beginning of the recession. The holiday season provides them with a positive rationalization for personal rewards through self-gifting."

Shoppers have also become numb to the gloom that still lingers over the economy. "Scary times have become the norm," Underhill says. So at this stage in the post-recession economy, "people have stopped looking at the declining values of their houses, stock market fluctuations -- maybe for their own piece of mind. They've gone back to living."

Less For Them, More For Me

Hard times have also made it socially acceptable to buy more modest gifts, which frees up cash for me. The thinking is, "I will buy someone the $10 present rather than the extravagant $30 present, that frees up the spending cap," Underhill says.

At the same time, consumers are more likely to buy gifts for themselves if they expect less from others, Paine says.

If you made a pact with your cousin to break tradition and forgo exchanging those holiday sweaters, for example, "you still need a new sweater, so you purchase it as a gift for yourself."

What's more, many shoppers who "traded down" during the recession to cheaper stores, opting for Target (TGT) instead of Macy's (M), for example, justify a self-purchase during the holidays because they're theoretically buying less pricey goods, Underhill says.

But fundamental social shifts could also be feeding the self-gifting trend.

For one, the once traditional makeup of the family unit has been redefined, which has shaken up gift-giving patterns.
According to the latest Census date, fewer than 25% of American households are made up of a traditional mother and father and dependent children, Underhill says. "This whole Ozzie & Harriet picture of presents under the tree, while it still exists, might not actually be the norm anymore."

The shift has seen the rise of DINK (double income no kids) households, which are more prone to self-gifting, he says.

"The gift-giving patterns are very different if you don't have kids. You can [more] often think about treating yourself."

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While I agree with some of the cost savings suggestions here, as a professional wedding photographer, I would strongly suggest hiring a professional to do the pictures. It may sound biased, but I've heard so many horror stories from couples who didn't. After the wedding is over, the images are about all you have left to remember the day. Plus, you'll appreciate them more years later. You can show them to your grandkids and see how much everyone has changed over the years or show them people who passed away. It takes years of experience to capture a wedding properly. Not something a friend, student or newspaper photographer can do well.

November 14 2011 at 12:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love how these articles always speak for me.......(NOT!!!).........I will NOT be splurging at the holidays this year. I will NOT buy a XMAS tree this year and I will spend less than $150.00, including food. Thank you all of you GOVT and FINANCIAL MARKET people who have destroyed the economy for everyone else. MERRY CHRISTMAS!

October 25 2011 at 1:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The only people that will be buying anything is the 1%, the 99% has nothing to buy with.

October 25 2011 at 1:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Even know I am lucky enough to be working, I don't intend to buy anything for anyone during the holidays which include family, friends, and kids. I rather save for my own future since we got an unstable market, and economy I ant buying anything I dont care how I get looked at or if my kids cry about it, they will get over it I just tell them be happy you got a roof over your head, food to eat, and the cloths on your back thats all you need, my future (retirement) is more important than junk right now that you DONT need!

October 25 2011 at 2:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think i'll buy a piece of meat..........

October 24 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Please try and buy American made products for yourself and your loved ones this Christmas. We need desperately to keep America working. China is already enjoying a 9% increase in their GDP. Help America first. Let the imports rot. Buy American! You are holding the last dollar. Please don't waste it.

October 24 2011 at 4:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply