What About a Gift-Less Christmas?

It’s quite possible, even though we are well into December, that you have not started your Holiday gift shopping.

You are probably wondering who should be getting a gift, what budgets you are expected to spend, and who should get what exactly.

What about the notion of not buying anything for anyone?

I’m sure the word ‘Scrooge’ comes to mind but bear with me here.

Christmas and the whole holiday season has become the season to consume, over-consumption is absolutely rampant and your nephews request for a new Wii controller may make you his worst aunt or uncle — but standing up to it all and bucking the system may well be the most refreshing move you ever make.

The symbols of celebratory holidays shouldn’t be $10 board game deals at Walmart or Target’s Christmas Eve sale.

The emphasis should be on the people we are supported and surrounded by and how much we appreciate each other.

Each year, and especially in this economic climate, families are guilt-tripped into loading up their credit cards and depleting savings to keep up with what the holiday season expects of them.

This just isn’t fair.

I’m not for one second saying you should boycott the holiday season altogether, or spend absolutely no money on anyone.  I think a little spending is very likely but I think that it would be nice if it wasn’t on things wrapped in fancy paper.

So what should you be doing for family and friends this holiday season?

What about a giftless Christmas?

I would suggest that you show your appreciation by doing things for people that really would make them happy.

If your brother’s household is crazy due to kids and work, offer to take the kids off them for a few nights, let them enjoy some holiday time alone and take the kids somewhere really cool.

If grandpa is a little unsteady on his feet these days get yourself over there a few times and keep that drive clear of snow and cook him his favourite meal.

If family or good friends are far away go out of the way to go and see them, even if it takes a lot of effort.  The money saved on not buying gifts could go towards gas or flights if you can afford them.

Organise multiple gatherings.  The big day is hard to prepare but the family always say on that day that they should see more of each other, well why not create a few more of these days over the season.  A Holiday party or potluck can help make organization easier and everyone will be appreciative.

If anyone comments about your decision not to consume on the expected gifts explain to them that you are giving much more than 10 minutes on the internet purchasing a piece of metal and plastic.

What do you think about this idea?

I have not purchased any gifts this year and am planning to make a lot of home-made gifts — things like candles and framed photos.  I’ll be traveling so have not fully decided how I will contribute yet, 100% gift-less could be a little too much to aim for but it’s a nice ideal.

This is a guest post by Forest Parks. Forest writes about his journeys around the world at Everyday Nomad. Head on over there to read some extraordinary stories about other parts of the world.
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Published or updated December 6, 2014.


  1. Track Your Bucks says:

    My folks recently suggested that we avoid exchanging gifts this Christmas season. When I quickly agreed that this sounded fine with me, the looks of relief they gave me was evident. Now we’ll all save time, money, and stress – the best Christmas gift of all!

    • We don’t exchange with the ‘rents. Instead we agree to give gifts to the kids. We haven’t gone gift-less yet but we don’t have to buy something for everyone either.

  2. Amen! I would love to get off the family gift merry-go-round, but the expectations are awfully high in my extended family. I’m baking cookies and making some crafts for as many people as I can, and my immediate family is having a fairly low-key gift exchange: my husband and I are going in on a board game together so we can have something fun to share after the kiddo is in bed, and we’re buying the kiddo two of our favorite children’s books that he doesn’t have yet. I’m not yet able to do all my giving sans spending yet, but I hope to get there one day.

  3. Great idea! We limit our exchange of gifts to immediate family only. It keeps it simpler and we can maintain a budget.

  4. We haven’t exchanged gifts in years. We show our caring all year, not on some concocted consumer-driven fabrication by the media.

  5. That’s awesome, no matter how much I tell my mum not to get me anything she always has to do something!

  6. My comment above was for @Track Your Bucks.

    @Emily, you seem to be working hard at it. It really does take some work to peel yourself away from it!

    @Krant, thanks as always :).

    @Gordon, exactly, this isn’t a new concept :).

  7. Cheryl Adkins says:

    We haven’t gotten around to no gifts yet but we have definitely cut way back in the last few years. Somehow Christmas is just as good cause we all get together and have fun.

  8. I like this idea! We’re not gift-less with our families, but, my husband and I rarely exchange gifts with each other. We have pared back the gift giving with our families as well and it’s pretty manageable. But, I wouldn’t be opposed to going entirely gift-free!

  9. Wes and I aren’t exchanging gifts this year. We’ve had a great year and have everything we need, so instead we are going to have a relaxing December and enjoy everything that we have!

  10. This would be so fantastic. My Mom and I are almost there, but cannot get the rest of the family to follow. The whole month of Dec is just stress trying to find the perfect gift for someone who can buy themselves everything they want. Blah, no fun at all!

  11. 100% agree! I try to move everyone towards this every year, but some family members just will not get on board. I even made a Christmas list last year that only listed charities that I like, and I still received “stuff” and was expected to buy other people “stuff”.

    • Glen Craig says:

      I like the charity list. Have you found that people will donate in your name? That’s got to be a nice feeling if they do.

  12. My mother-in-law suggested a gift-less Christmas this year, and I have to admit while I’m fine not receiving anything myself, I really enjoy the activity of figuring out gifts to buy my family members. So I agreed, but I’m going to cheat and give her a little something anyway.

    • Glen Craig says:

      Oh but when you cheat it starts the whole process back up again! Yeah, it’s hard though to not actually give anything when it’s something you enjoy doing.

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