When was the last time you read (or watched) “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”?
If you find yourself rushing from store to store, spending more than you can really afford on gifts, disappointed by the reactions of people when you give, and then horrified by your credit card statements come January, it might be worth a review!
Because the holidays — no matter which holidays you celebrate — aren’t really about the gifts. Even if you aren’t particularly religious, the holiday season is, ideally, about reconnecting with family and friends. NOT about who got the best deal on the biggest-screen TV, amirite?
But so many people conflate the holidays with things, with gifts and gift-giving, and because of that the holidays become, by extension, about money: how much you have, how much you spend, and all the emotions that go with it.
But what if we were just to… stop? What if we took a moment and tried to go back to what the holidays are supposed to be about, what we deeply long for them to be about?
What if we eliminate holiday gifts?
This isn’t about sticking to your budget or battling your credit card debt (though, those could be nice side effects). And since giving up gift-giving really isn’t about money, then you need to focus on what it IS about. Your personal priorities and values will really come into play here, but here are 5 suggestions why you might want to eliminate holiday gifts this holiday season:
1. No more shopping stress.
I love watching crowds and people, but I don’t like being among them. Most years when I gave gifts, I had my shopping done by Thanksgiving! But then I missed out on the decorations and enjoying the season. Now, I will just go out to one of the shopping areas, sit with my peppermint mocha and watch the people.
2. Having experiences instead of possessions.
I went back and tried to remember my favorite gifts when I was younger, and all I could recall was Barbie (actually, I had PJ and my sister had Barbie), my bike, my roller skates and volleyball. What I really enjoyed thinking about was the times I made my family go ice skating, the Harry Potter marathon, driving around to see Christmas lights, decorating cookies and the year my boyfriend and his best friend shot down a Christmas tree in the woods.
3. Slowing down the pace.
One thing I always appreciated about my mom was her ability to just hang out. She could just sit and talk for hours with anyone. In my world, it’s really rare to come across people who don’t have places to go and people to see. So between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, it’s really nice to UNschedule, and make spending time with the people you care about your only agenda.
4. Making it about family versus individuals.
When you eliminate holiday gifts to each individual, you make it about their response and satisfaction—and the individual tends to focus on what they got or didn’t get. When you do things for the benefit of the group, it becomes about a community of people who care about each other. Then, people tend to focus on what they can contribute.
5. Modeling behavior for children.
When I was younger, the family would get up early, open holiday gifts, and then pass out again by noon. By age 11, I had already started managing the family and convinced my (older) sister to wait until 8am to wake everyone up. The point is, I was willing to wait to get my gifts if it meant that I could sustain more family connection throughout the day. And several years ago, I saw a young girl (about 5 or so), literally tell her mom that she was too tired to open any more gifts! She had been opening gifts for 2 hours and still wasn’t done! Children don’t need as much as we think they do. And, what take-away do you want your children to experience during the holidays?
Discover your reasons to Eliminate Holiday Gifts
If the idea of forgoing gift giving this year feels enticing to you, I encourage you to get in touch with why:
- Conduct a holiday review. If you haven’t pow-wowed with your family already, check in and make sure everyone has a voice in planning how to best spend the holidays.
- Plant the seed. Look for opportunities to show others (and yourself) that gift-giving really is a by-product of the season, and not the end-all purpose.
- Reflect on your thoughts about gifts you want. Look for areas of attachment and resistance so you can understand what is really going on for you. It’s never about the gift.
Remember: It’s always bigger than the money (or the gift).
If you’d like some help figuring out what you really want — and how to make your money work for it — download my Chief Initiative workbook, which will help you identify your goals and values.