Stop Giving Gifts for Christmas

Last year we stopped giving gifts to family and friends around the holidays. We were approached by one of our families asking if we could skip gifts this year. I was excited. Yes! I don’t want to spend twenty dollars – if not more – on something they wouldn’t appreciate or use more than once. My husband and I had debated only gifting to those who showed appreciation for the year before, but my family is a ball of drama and we would never hear the end of it.


Financial Reasons

I later found out the reason our family approached us about not exchanging gifts was for financial reasons. Even in a healthy financial situation, holiday spending can burn through a lot of cash. When you spend twenty bucks a person, it adds up fast. Focusing on immediate family aline would be $200 for us. Taking into account extended families and friends – I am scared to think about how much I spent in the past.

National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. They figured that holiday retail sales in November and December this year will be up between 3.6 percent and 4 percent for a total between $678.8 billion and $682 billion ($967.13 per consumer). NRF also revealed imports set a second all-time monthly record high as retailers brought in merchandise for the busy holiday season, and are continuing at unusually high levels.


Thankless Train of Thought

My brother and I were at the store and he pointed out a pair of gaming stating he wanted it for Christmas. Parents of gamers know they cost upwards of one hundred dollars. Making note of what he wanted I kept my eyes out for a good deal. When I saw some go on sale of twenty-five dollars, I spent five dollars over my limit and bought them for him. This was hard for me. As a newlywed, $20 a person was all we could afford and I had no wiggle room. But, I really wanted to give him something he wanted and would use. Christmas morning rolls around. I handed him the package and waited for his eyes to reflect the excitement in mine. He opened it without a smile and continued on to the next gift. No thank you. No exclamation of joy. The headphones were never spoken of. I was heartbroken.

Let these numbers from Finder blow your mind. Americans in 2016 are expected to waste an average $71 in unwanted gifts, totaling $9.5 billion. 54% said they don’t like at least one gift they receive every year. It’s not just the candle set you gave — these people also report receiving 2.3 unwanted presents every year. Nearly 1 in 5 Americans think their partners are hopeless at buying presents for them. More than 1 in 10 Americans (12%) admitted they have deliberately bought someone a present they knew that person wouldn’t like. Further, hinting at what you want to the men in your life is not working: 21% of men admit to intentionally gifting non-treasures, while only 8% of women cop to it.


Breaking the News

Telling family that we were no longer going to do Christmas gift gave me anxious excitement. We had plans to see my mom and I was trying to think of how to tell my family without it being a big deal. While we were over, I just said, “Oh, yeah. We aren’t giving Christmas presents this year so don’t get us anything.” The looks I received were of surprise and confusion. Mom asked why. It took me a moment to decided to tell the truth. I don’t want to spend the money for something that wouldn’t be appreciated. She got it right away. That took me off guard. Then I realized – she’s a mom. She’s used to working her butt off with very little gratitude.

Ironically it was my little brother (the most ungrateful) that pitched a bit of a fit. I told him that if he would like us to take him somewhere in place of a present we would be happy to. We suggested a trampoline house and offered to take him with us on our next road trip (which usually means California). He asked for a gift card. After making it clear that wasn’t going to happen, he essentially ignored me the rest of the day. I am proud to say this was two years ago and he is not that entitled kid anymore.

My in-laws didn’t mind at all. My mother-in-law asked if she could still give gifts to our son. We said yes and she was happy. She still gives us pajamas every year. All the girls usually match so we change right away. Three women in footy pajamas. It is almost a tradition all on its own.


Stop giving presents at Christmas if you can relate. You don’t need a reason and you don’t need to explain your reasons. There is plenty to do around the holidays that isn’t centered around gift giving. Do you give gifts at Christmas? Let us know why or why not in the comments below.

4 thoughts on “Stop Giving Gifts for Christmas

  1. I so agree! Traveling and trying to embrace minimalism so really aware of how little stuff we all need. I doing this as well this year so I’ll keep you posted on how I get on x

  2. I can relate to giving a Christmas gift to a family member and having no response back. Uggh! I can’t stand that! Not even appreciate at all! Our family has changed up the gifting. We have all names written on paper and put into a bag. Each person picks from the bag- and gets a name. It’s like a Secret Santa sort of thing. A $50 limit for the gift. We only buy for 1 person for Christmas. A Google document is made and each person can type in things they would like for Christmas.

  3. I’m on board with this. Our family is huge and if we bought for every single person we’d be in the poorhouse. Other than buying gifts for my immediate family (husband and kids) we host a huge Christmas party every year and in lieu of presents we ask that donations be made to charities that are near and dear to us and that is only if they insist on bringing gifts like the food bank, local mission services, heart and stroke foundation etc. Christmas is more meaningful when we take consumerism out of the holiday!

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