To many, the idea of not sharing gifts at Christmas will seem crazy. After all, it’s the season most in the Western world spend the whole year looking forward to, and gifts just seem an integral part of that. Yet, is society doing itself a disservice by spending money it doesn’t have on stuff no one really wants to receive? The concept of a no-gift or minimalist Christmas may be more appealing than you’d initially think.
The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
As the holidays approach, it’s common to hear people talk about Christmas shopping as just another unpleasant task to get out of the way. When people ask each other if they’ve done theirs yet, you’d think they were talking about cleaning the gutters. Indeed, to most it’s become a joyless, expensive and often stressful necessity, a costly prelude to the holiday itself.
Statistics from 2013 show that retail spending in the US was over $590 billion during the holiday season. Stores target their advertising at consumers who believe they must spend money to show their family they care. Many Americans find themselves in debt as January rolls around, and have to fall back on credit cards. It’s common to hear talk of “tightening one’s belt” after holiday spending, but no one ever seems to question if it’s a good thing or not.
What Does It All Really Mean?
When you think about it, it’s easy to spend a lot of money on gifts and worry about the consequences later. The financial stress as people splash money they don’t have is usually just accepted as a necessity. But, what if there were a more meaningful way to show your affection at Christmas? A no-gift holiday can offer families the opportunity to give time rather than money, perhaps by all offering to pitch in with the meal for once, or promising to spend a day out together next year and sharing some great memories. You can put more focus on those aspects of the holidays and have a lot of fun without the price tag.
If this is too hard to swallow, what about a minimalist Christmas? Setting a limit on gift spending, say $10 per person, could be a chance to yield some amusing finds. Home-made crafts, a poem or even just a bottle of wine could be a lot more meaningful or enjoyable than a pointless gadget. Ultimately, most Christmas presents end up at the back of the closet anyway, so why spend so much money you don’t have? Being obligated to give gifts at a certain time of the year is an enormous source of stress for many. Simply saying ‘no’ to the practice shows independent thought. That said, Christmas is a particularly special time for children. It may be a good idea to make an exception for them but cut spending on adult family members.
The idea of a no-gift or minimalist Christmas will probably be met with a lot of resistance at first glance. Ultimately, you’ll find that cutting out the joyless act of shopping and racking up debt to be an enormous weight off your shoulders. Whether Christmas is important to you for religious reasons or you just enjoy getting together with family, you can now begin to properly focus on that side of it. You’ll create a more meaningful experience and find you have more fun together without the financial hangover next year.