Whether due to philosophical reasons, economic challenges, or a little of both, people are altering their concept of what this season should look like.
I've informally developed a few guidelines for myself, & I attempt to apply these to my family as well - some times with more success than others.
1) Give an experience - not a thing
Instead of receiving stuff, I would prefer two concert tickets and a dinner date, a contribution to our next vacation, or a hang gliding session on my bucket list - all of which I would most definitely cherish & love to do. These items do not become clutter in my life, but they still add great value.
Christmas is no longer about the accumulation of stuff. It's about conveying your love for someone. A candle or gift certificate, for example, are impersonal & tell me that you may not really know me well or care about my interests.
2) Only kid gifts - no adults
The real enjoyment in our gift unwrapping is watching the kids open their presents. This one's self explanatory. I also preset a reasonable budget for shopping.
3) Give to those in need
Last year, my cousin & I devised a plan to turn our holiday party into a giving experience. We made a few gift baskets, & for each item someone donated to our charity of choice, they got a raffle ticket to enter to win a basket. We collected a considerable pile to donate to a local women's shelter. And, an added bonus was that few people went home with more stuff. They left with the satisfaction of knowing they helped others in addition to seeing their loved ones.
Opportunities abound at the this time to serve. When you are generous & giving, it's a win-win. The feeling you get from being kind is a return gift that requires no wrapping.
4) Keep your home uncluttered
I've trimmed our decorations to a tree & lights. Simply adding holiday scented candles & a holiday themed Pandora station can dramatically transform your home without the added knick knacks. Eventually, the influx of cards, a handful of gifts, & holiday treats become decorations themselves which will eventually cycle out of our home.
5) If you give a gift, it must be extremely thoughtful
I attempt to put a lot of thought & consideration into buying a physical object for someone. I like to know it's something they truly want, need, is valuable, and/or they will find beautiful.
6) Accept that some people just insist on giving stuff
These concepts are going against tradition or habit for some family & friends. I find this is true especially with the older generations. Just smile & graciously accept the gifts. Hopefully, there will be less & less as the years go by.
7) Remember the spirit of the season, not the hype
Whether you are religious or not, there is a unique sense of love, care, & generosity in the air at this special time. We connect with friends & family and help those in need.
We know deep down that the aim of the holidays is not about spending mountains of money, shopping nonstop, & exchanging thoughtless junk. However, we feel obligated to go with the crowd.
I say 'no more'. Start a simplification of the holidays & return to the true heart of the season.
* If you have any more great ideas on how to celebrate the holidays without stuff, please feel free to share! *