The No Gift Christmas

How would you feel about a Christmas in which you purposefully didn’t give or receive any gifts? Would you be happy? Sad? Relieved? Would it not feel like Christmas if you didn’t have any brightly colored boxes to open and nothing under the tree?

My mom proposed the idea a few days ago and I’m not sure exactly what I think about it yet. My mom’s reasoning for no gifts is simple: we all have everything we NEED in life. The items we receive for Christmas might fill gaps in the WANT category, but they are definitely not a necessity.

Rather than spending days and days searching for the perfect gifts, she suggested giving the money we would typically spend on gifts to charity. We don’t have any details defined yet, but we could proceed in any number of ways.

Each family could simply give money to a charity of their choice, we could all pull our money together and give to one agreed upon charity or we could all chip in and adopt a specific family in need.

At first glance I love the idea. My family doesn’t go particularly overboard on gifts. We tend to stick to a relatively small budget, but my parents definitely spend more than I think they should on two grown kids, their spouses and two grandchildren.

My brother and his wife and my husband and I make much more money than my parents ever did, even in their peak earning years. If we don’t donate to charity next year I would still like to see them cut down on the amount of money they spend on Christmas.

At first I was all behind the idea. Of course, I love the idea of giving to someone in greater than need than myself, but then I wonder if it will feel strange to have Christmas without ANY gifts.

What do you think? Could you imagine a Christmas in which you gave gifts to a family of strangers, but didn’t give or receive anything from the ones you love?

6 thoughts on “The No Gift Christmas”

  1. I like the idea of Christmas time being more about family and friends and goodwill toward men rather than fighting people in malls for something on sale.
    On the other hand, I think it would be a bit hard on the little ones.

  2. What if you taper off? Like maybe next year you could give fewer gifts and less expensive ones, and maybe give a bit of your time (volunteer rather than donate). Then, based on how that experience went, determine a plan for future years.

  3. Our family has been basically gift-free for years now – once the kids started moving out and going to college, it didn't make sense for us to try to either buy gifts while we were away at school, and then have to carry them back home – or try desperately to shop quickly when we got home for vacation.
    There was always something under the tree – usually friends and clients of my mother's would drop off little things. But I haven't unwrapped a present under the tree in over 15 years I would say šŸ˜€

    Christmas quickly became about spending time with family, baking, enjoying the Christmas tree lights and decorations, and just enjoying NOT buyings gifts for the sake of having something under the tree.

    This year, I'm spending Christmas with friends instead of family – and I'm actually kind of dreading that they'll feel obligated to have something wrapped for me – so I'm having to pick up something for them.

  4. I really like this idea, but I doubt it would happen in mine or DH's family….which I find sad. We all have what we need, even more then we need, we have our wants as well.
    I think I'd be pretty bummed with no gifts under the tree, but I was thinking of going around the house and giving away to family stuff I already have. I kinda did that with DH's family this year…we had Xmas with them on Sunday since DBIL and family are going to Florida. I gave everyone toothbrushes and toothpaste, candles and brownie mix (all free from the pantry) as gag type gifts. They all got a kick out of it. Or even with DH and I…finding stuff around the house we don't use as much and 'wrapping' it to have something to open.
    And what a headache it is to shop, to find THE perfect gift. People are out there struggling nowadays, we are comfy, as is most of the family. My mom is unemployed (almost 2 years) and they go over and beyond for my two nephews…they get really big ticket items (last year the PS3, this year a laptop), I mean come on! And Easter is just like Christmas. My parents and DH and I are on two different wave lengths money wise…my mom is unemployed and goes out and about like it's going out of style. DH and I stay home, cook our food and once in awhile go to AC. We hardly go out to eat (and when we do, it's with a coupon!). I just think it would be better all around to do this, but would be hard to implement in my family esp the kids…since they are 'trained' that Santa is coming. But I think if we told them that other kids get nothing b/c Santa doesn't come to them, and wouldn't it be a great idea to give them THEIR toys? Yea, like that would go over well lol

  5. I don't know about NO gifts, but every year I swear I'm going to put my foot down and really cut down on the number of gifts my family exchanges. It's a bit hard to bring it up because my wife and I make substantially more than anyone else in her family. It's hard to be the cheapskate when you're the "rich" family. I'd like to establish something like a one-gift limit or a dollar limit for my parents/in-laws regarding our kids. We only have one kid now (a one-year-old) but I was amazed at all the gifts he received and this is a bigger problem for him because his birthday is only 17 days before Christmas. I like to joke that we'll never buy him any gifts because his grandparents already spoil him enough on their own.

  6. This year I unwrapped two gifts. And while I would accept a no gift Christmas, I get incredible joy out of opening gifts so in the future I am going to make the effort of giving gifts. I think part of opening gifts is the anticipation and pacing the opening of gifts throughout the day would make it more fun!


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