After my Dad died, we spent a lot of time cleaning out STUFF. His, stuff my Mom wanted to get rid of, my grandmother’s house, and so on. So much ended up in trash, donated, or sold. Yard sale after yard sale, we watched gifts and random purchases go away, in an effort to simplify and downsize.
So three years ago we decided to stop doing presents for Christmas. We are Santa for Little Man and sometimes do gifts with Q’s family, but overall, we pretty much are a buy nothing family for the holiday season. It’s totally changed the holiday season for us all.
We’re all adults and more Christmases than not, my brother and I were sending emails with links to specific things we wanted/needed to our family, using the holiday to be gifted the items we couldn’t afford or didn’t spoil ourselves with. The Christmas after my divorce, I was most excited about getting a toaster. The Christmas my father passed away, all I wanted was a dual urn/K-Cup coffeemaker. It sort of took some of the magic of the holiday away when the gifts were already known.
Q and I only gave gifts to each other on the first Christmas we were together, and once again, practicality took over. He bought me fancy olive oil, an expensive pillow ( which I still have and is amazing), and some jewelry. I got him some fancy grilling rub, a beer making class, and some special limited edition beer. After that Christmas, we decided to save the money for things we wanted to do together. This year, that extra money is going to pay off the new car ( romantic, I know).
Our no gifts policy extends to birthdays– we all go out for a nice dinner to celebrate the person instead of gifts. It takes a lot of pressure off, but also eliminates the random stuff of life that piles up and always ends up being donated.
Not giving gifts makes us think more about the season and doesn’t leave us with the frantic feeling of buying for everyone on the list. Even for Little Man last year, we didn’t even go get his gifts until the weekend before Christmas. For an A-type, to-do list maker like me, it’s nice to feel relaxed the entire holiday season. I try to make more charitable gifts at the end of the year anyway, and having some extra dollars for that instead of buying another mug or candle for my loved ones makes it a win-win.
I get that it’s not for everyone to forgo gifts with their family and friends, but it’s right for us and our family. It gives us the freedom to enjoy the season, the extra money going towards what we want, and the ability to only have things we want in the house– I think everyone should try it one year!