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No Gift Christmas, anyone else do this?

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 
This will be our third year not giving gifts to others -we stopped giving gifts within our household about 11 years ago and finally realized it was crazy if we didn't have the money to buy ourselves and our own children gifts to be buying things that weren't needed and possibly not even liked for friends and family, just because it's Christmas! We still give to ourselves and others at other times of the year when we have the money and know it will be a welcome or useful gift... we just don't wait until Dec.25th to hand it over. I'm so tired of consumerism, especially for the sake of consumerism... which is an amazing realization for me since 10 years ago I adored Christmas as a celebration of consumerism... I wonder if the me now would even be able to convince the me then or would I have just rolled my eyes and called the now me a 'party pooper'?
post #2 of 15
We don't go hog wild nor do we ignore the holidays. Our family celebrates in a MUCH smaller way than anyone else we know in real life.

We give gifts thoughtfully to close family members (not necessarily physically close, but those involved in our lives). DH creates a very nice family DVD for grandparents and great-grandparents and one great aunt (they share with nearby "younger" relatives, if there is interest). I create some type of photo gift (one per family). DD (age 9) makes cards for all of her cousins and we give the ones under 18 a twenty (they're all teenagers). The cash is the most expensive part of Christmas outside our family (used to be $100, but has steadily dropped as the cousins become adults) and I pull out one twenty a month (cash over at Costco) until I have enough. We know in advance we need DVDs and cases, so we get them when they are loss leaders or on some great sale. I have a zillion craft supplies already (haven't purchased any in 3+ years now, but still have plenty), so DD & I "shop" from my stash for the gifts we prepare. DH makes his own DVD labels and covers. DH's family started the 'Christmas is for kids' thing years ago and he has stuck to it. They haven't so much. I adore his family and they may be far from us, but they are very involved in our lives. I do the photo gifts as my thanks for being part of the family. My family is scattered and I only give to those who express an interest in my life on a regular basis (4 people, although one new person has surfaced in the last year plus).

My parents have birthdays a few days after Christmas, so they get extra and I make those special gifts (not money special, but emotionally special). We don't really celebrate anyone else's birthday with more than a card and/or phone call. Oh, except the cousins. They receive an iTunes gift card now that they are all teens (until they become adults). DD makes the birthday cards from my stash. (When the stash runs out, so will that tradition.) If we visit someone or they visit us and their birthday occurs, we celebrate with an experience of some kind.

Within our immediate household, we are modest in our celebrations. We have the means to do a lot more, but consciously choose to do meaningful activities versus monetary gifts. We do fun things that each person enjoys, but don't necessarily cost a lot. Last year, for example, DD asked for a slumber party for her birthday party. We kept it small (four girls total) and hardly spent anything beyond food. The only cost was pictures I sent to Walgreens for printing after the girls went to bed and DH picked up an hour later. The 'thank you' activity was creating a "Friends" memory board with those pictures and craft supplies I already had. They played games and had a lot of fun with things we already own.

We started a new tradition a few years ago that has become interesting and fun. In each of our birthday months, the birthday person gets to choose a charity and give a monetary donation. I love randomly giving money to my alma mater. Someone always calls or writes a personal note (handwritten by a student) and apparently it is uncommon. It has been fun to see how DD has matured through this tradition and assisting her in her research/decision-making on which charity has been highly entertaining. I've learned more about my DH's quieter interests in this way, too.
post #3 of 15
We haven't really giiven gifts in more than a handful of yearss. We do go out for a fancy dinner around new years, but other than a few trinkets over the years (favorite candy bar, new pair of cool socks, etc - $10 price tag at the most), we really don't get into any gifting for Christmas.
We do celecrate X-mas, but gifting is not a part of the holiday all in all.
post #4 of 15
nope. i hate giving and recieving gifts. maybe that is too strong a term, but i really don't like the pressure of spending money on someone else and trying to make sure it's something that is useful and will be appreciated and is also within my means... and homemade is good and well, but buying the supplies to make some crafty things is still buying into consumerism, even if it's of a different kind. if i happen to be learning a new craft, and want to share it with others, i will sometimes do that, but i don't make things FOR christmas.

within my family and extended family, i think we are really lacking in traditions that celebrate the feeling of the winter season. i'm not religious, so i don't really want to get into that stuff... but i'd rather spend the money i might have spent on gifts on decorations, a tree, lights, good food and drink, etc. something to really set the scene for a beautiful time together as a family, rather than boxes filled with STUFF. not to mention, our family is a fair distance from us, so there are travelling expenses to add in as well.

i used to get really stressed about budgeting gifts, and shopping and finding time to make stuff, and answering questions about what others should get me, and i finally decided i was sick of it and just stopped. it was a couple of awkward years with extended family (especially in-laws, who are really into expensive gifts and wish lists) but i think they are finally coming around.
post #5 of 15
I am working towards a "less stuff filled" xmas and since we are Christians it has made it easier to focus on that aspect rather than the commercial one. My BFF and I exchange Heifer "gifts" and last year I "gave" a flock of chickens to an impoverished family in a 3rd world country in her name. My parents are used to exchanging "stuff" so instead I try to make it an "experience" type gift ie take mom out for lunch coupon so I can spend time with her instead of getting her something else she doesn't need.
post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 
I love not having to create a need or want where there is none every year! I remember trying to dig up catalogs, searching stores, etc., dragging the kids and trying to get them to want something, anything, to have a list to give others, drove us all buggy! Even when my kids got gift certificates, then they would have to try to find something to spend it on... usually they would just end up using it to buy gifts for others for birthdays or the next christmas. I would get so excited if one of my kids outgrew a pair of shoes or something just to have a good gift idea... but then we'd have to wait out the six weeks or however long until christmas and it would never be as 'perfect' as if the shoe wearer picked them out (and in the mean time my kids would've managed to figure out how to make the broken or too small item work and decided they don't actually need a new one having already gone so long w/o it ) . I really loathe the silly stuff like jewelry or collector knick knacks that almost seem to exist for the sole purpose of having to have something to give as gifts... it all seems like such a massive incredible waste of money and earth's resources that could be put to much better use.

But we all do love christmas, absolutely... love how the dreary winter short days get lit up with lights and singing and tons of people out and about (every year it always amazes me how it feels like the local population triples during the holiday season), getting time off work and families traveling to be together. I adore all that... and it's even more fun for me at least w/o all the buying and shopping and spending and cringing at all the waste. I do love giving to others, but honestly around christmas time it always seemed like it was just one more thing the receiver didn't even want (and considering how I always bought stuff for others I know I love or would love to have that never felt good), whereas any other time of year and a gift is much more appreciated (not as in they will be so thankful to you, but as in they will actually have the time and energy to really enjoy the gift). My kids even enjoy not having to deal with gifts at get togethers because there is more time and attention and focus on them rather than so much energy put into unwrapping and discovering all the stuff.

We've also tried the crafty stuff but I try to make use of leftovers and recyclables because I don't want to add to unnecessary trinket production and we don't tend to have very much of that since we try to buy unpackaged items, items in bulk, etc (another topic I wanted to start awhile ago... all those kid craft books that involve things we don't ever have like egg cartons, soda bottles, baby food jars, cereal boxes) and then I really wonder that I'm not just burdening others with these outrageous knick knacky type items that now also include some emotional stake in them (like the year my daughter cried at christmas because we went to her aunt's and she didn't have the star she made for her the year before on top of her tree... to that aunt's credit she's had it up every year since that we've been over, lol, I can't believe she actually even kept it!).
post #7 of 15
i'm very conflicted about adopting this idea for my own family. i think it's great, but i can't imagine how i would get my kids to understand why i would give them nothing for christmas (and how they would then answer when other people ask what they got). i mean, yeah, it would be cool if they said, "i didn't need anything, so instead of exchanging gifts, we (insert awesome experience, charity giving, or volunteer activity here!)." but they're preschoolers. and i kind of like giving them something - one gift. i like giving others carefully-chosen and often homemade gifts, too. it doesn't need to happen on christmas, as i'm not even christian, but . . . i do like the gift exchange. i don't like the consumerism and commercialization. i guess i'm still trying to find the right balance.

you said your kids like that the get-togethers are more focused around enjoying each other and not the gift frenzy, which is cool and very understandable, but do they still wish they got presents? even as an adult, i still want a present or two . . .
post #8 of 15
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by doubledutch View Post
you said your kids like that the get-togethers are more focused around enjoying each other and not the gift frenzy, which is cool and very understandable, but do they still wish they got presents? even as an adult, i still want a present or two . . .
When my oldest two were little we did do a santa gift... whatever they asked for from santa we would get and they really believed santa could get them anything they wanted and yet they still never asked for much of anything. A lot of times they just thanked him for giving gifts to others... one year my daughter asked for a sibling and it just happened to work out that we got pregnant then. So, I'm not sure why exactly, but my kids just never seem to want stuff anyways... it's always been more the adults (including even me, actually) wanting them to want things to have that feeling of showering someone with gifts, iykwim. There is definitely always the appeal of that magic mystery box that will hold all your dreams come true.... but the reality is never that, so....??? Even my 6 and 3yo now when people give them gifts on bdays they just aren't that interested... they have to be reminded to even open them. If my kids were anxious about getting gifts I don't know that I would feel as comfortable taking that away from them, I'm sure. I think growing up with my kids was really what got me transitioning from thinking the whole consumerism thing was so glorious to finding the whole thing absurd. One of the many things they've taught me.

If any of us ever wants anything we all discuss it as a family and make a decision together to go ahead and get that item (or not, my kids are much more ruthless about this than me and dh), so while again we might miss out on the excitement of having that magic mystery box under the tree to imagine and dream about along with the joy of the surprise we aren't actually deprived of what we want and ultimately we know it's more satisfying in the long run, especially since we actually allow ourselves more since we know we aren't getting anything for bdays or christmas (my kids will always tell me, well, I don't really *need* that and we remind them, true, but consider it an early/late christmas/bday gift and then they feel okay about spending family money on themselves).

I mean I don't want to make it seem like we wouldn't all love to have presents... it's like anything else really, like having a candy bar instead of a piece of fruit maybe, sure who wouldn't want a tasty treat, but in the end the fruit is good and even better if you never have sugar and more often than not you just end up feeling sick after eating the candy bar even if it seemed good right in the moment. For a toddler whose never had a candy bar they wouldn't miss it and would absolutely love the fruit just as much as another enjoys their candy, but, yeah, the one who's used to candy won't be happy... an older child who's had the candy might miss it but they would be able to recognize the benefits if any for them. Honestly though I think we all miss giving more than receiving... I especially miss spoiling the dh myself... and friends... and family... ugh, I guess truthfully if I actually had a job myself and wasn't providing for a family I would be saving all my money to buy stuff for others for christmas (despite my philosophical ideals wrt "stuff") and I would love that opportunity (I actually do have fantasies about being Mrs.Claus -ha!).... must... resist... I don't even know why giving people *things* is so appealing to me, it's not the recognition because I almost prefer giving anonymously although I do like to see or hear about peoples' reactions to the gift (I have fantasies about being Bill Gates and randomly giving people money or paying off their debts, etc, also)

We do make lists of what we would like to give others (or at least I do... part of those fantasies I guess) and have even tossed out the idea of wrapping up boxes with notes inside of what we would give (the kids especially like this idea because then they can surprise us parents with extravagant gifts).... we also usually buy a family game sometime in November to all play together during the winter break.
post #9 of 15
We do within our own family but not extended family. My family is LARGE and it would be impossible to get each family something. My parents often say they really don't want anything, so we usuallly send them some pictures to add to their album

We like doing a lot of baking at home around the holidays and watching Christmas movies.

I don't generally buy the boys much beyond clothes throughout the year. Occasionally we'll pick up a small toy at a garage sale or thrift store.
We're on a pretty tight budget and have been for a long time and so birthdays and Christmas are pretty much it when it comes to receiving toys or other "fun"(needed) stuff. We don't go crazy though, just a couple of big items and then little stocking stuffers. Like this year ds 1 said he wants a ruibix cube (sp?). I actually snagged some building blocks for ds1 and a fisher price farm little people set for ds2, at the thrift store today. I cleaned them up and will save them for Christmas.

Dh and I actually get a "nice" pair of socks and he gets underwear.
post #10 of 15
We are opting out of giftmas this year. And every other year I can get away with it. lol
post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 
Giftmas, lol, love it, Laedi.... 'it's beginning to look a lot giftmas, everywhere I go...'

ahhh... the shopocalypse is coming... http://www.snagfilms.com/films/title...uld_jesus_buy/
post #12 of 15
I love this thread! Good to know there are other out there with the same thoughts We do some presents, but mostly they are coming from relatives (grandparents specifically). Is this the case in your houses as well, or do relatives not even send gifts? This year, I think maybe only something in the stocking and a little santa present from us is what we'll do - and stop the pressure to get other things - especially because like other said, when they want something other times of the year, I'm fine with just getting it then, and not waiting until December 25!

I'm interested to hear what other traditions your family does to celebrate the holidays!!

We like decorating the tree, watching goofy movies, reading some select books, eating lots of sweets and a having a nice big breakfast on xmas morning. I was thinking to start taking the kids out to see a new movie on xmas, since it seems like lots of them are released xmas day. What are your traditions?? (that don't involve gifts )
post #13 of 15
For years and years, we were a no-gifts family all the way around.

My dad was forcefully anti-gifts, to the point that he would come right out and say things like "gifts are stupid and senseless, a waste of money and so on" and implied that anyone who finds joy in giving or accepting gifts was somehow lacking in character. Looking back on it, I can see how hurtful his attitude was to many people.

DH and I were perfectly happy avoiding the craziness that accompanies the Christmas shopping season. Neither of us felt slighted and we were content to enjoy holidays (and birthdays) gift-free.

After DS was born, we did give him gifts for Christmas and last year, we decided to do small gifts for each other as well as Nana and Pappy.

My feeling is that he might settle with someone to whom gift giving in important so I want to teach him to be thoughtful and mindful when it comes to giving gifts.

We will help DS select something meaningful and useful for his grandparents. DH and I will do the same, involve DS in selecting something for each other.
post #14 of 15
Thread Starter 

Somewhere here someone wrote about doing an activity advent calendar and I thought that was absolutely brilliant so we've been doing that and so far the kids love it.  It doesn't even matter how simple the activities are, the kids just really look forward to opening up the next door on the calendar and finding out what's coming up next.  I wrote everything in riddle form so they've been having fun with that as well trying to guess at what it is.  Today I overheard my kids talking about how they completely forgot christmas is coming, all they think about is what's next and they are all asking to do this again next year. My kids told me it's way better than presents... it's so funny to me though because we are pretty much doing what we would always do, but somehow by opening up a window on a calendar my kids find it way more fun. 


Oh, one activity was going to see Santa, for some reason only one of my kids (my 6yo) actually ended up going up to sit in his lap though and when Santa asked him what he wanted for Christmas he just said, "oh, I already have stuff" yeah!

post #15 of 15

We do an activity advent calendar too.


As for gifts, we've long ago stopped gifting to folks outside the immediate family, largely due to financial hardships.  We just told people not to include us in any gift exchanges because we were really trying to emphasize "the reason for the season" in our family and felt gifts were a distraction.  Folks seemed to generally understand, and though a few people still give us small gifts, they always make a point about how it is "nothing big." 


Within the immediate family, I've realized that by giving anything at any point in time, I've set a bad precedent.  My kids don't want anything specific, but they want to get gifts enough that they have been focusing on it a bit at holiday time since they were two or three.  Funny how quickly they learned that Christmas=gifts under the tree.  What we have done as of last year (encouraged by economic hardship as well as values reasons) is gone to a small selection of handmade gifts.  We fill their stockings and have a few things under the tree.  They also get gifts from relatives, which I couldn't stop if I tried (actually...I did try when the kids were just babies). 


It's an interesting and sometimes difficult time of year because the kids do hear about their friends getting all kinds of fancy store-bought gifts.  They didn't used to notice it, but this year they've really started to tune in socially, and I can tell they are starting to realize that our family upholds a different set of values.  Which is really good.  But painful for them because hey, wanting things we perceive as nice is pretty common in the human condition.  Another layer of complexity is that our church does a big collection of gifts for DCFS for foster kidos.  This is especially complicated in that my kids were our foster children before we adopted them.  Anyway, there is this big tree at church with presents collected underneath it -- including lots of colorful, noisey, electronic stuff to which my son is drawn like a magnet-- and this weekend my son asked who the gifts were for.  I'm glad for the generosity of my congregation, and I want to encourage my kids to be generous also.  But it was hard to reconcile for my son why there was this tree at church with this abundance of store-bought stuff for other kids while I am telling him at home that he doesn't need it, that gifts are not what the holiday is about, and that he can make more interesting and engaging toys out of everyday things than anything I could buy for him. 


These are interesting conversations.  If it was easy, we wouldn't likely be thinking it all the way through, you know?  Being counter-cultural is not a breeze.

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