Going Giftless

Happy Friday everyone. Casey Wyatt here.


Being a writer, I’m all for thinking outside of the box. So this Christmas I made a radical suggestion to the adults in my family – forego exchanging gifts and spend the time enjoying each other’s company instead.

Fear coursed through my veins. Would I be lumped in with the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge?

Much to my delight, everyone agreed. Turns out, we’ve all reached the point where we all have enough things. To be honest it was a bit of a relief.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I like Christmas. But over the last several years, I’ve been suffering from holiday fatigue. The focus on buying stuff and the pursuit of the perfect gift eroded my enjoyment of the season. This year, our local Macy’s put up their holiday display at the end of September! What about Halloween? Thanksgiving?

Pish, posh – those holidays are road bumps along the way to the retail bonanza of the year.

Turns out I’m not alone in my idea. Last year, several of my fellow writers decided to give up gifts and instead donate to charities like Heifer International (http://www.heifer.org). They expressed joy in helping others. They all had enough stuff too.

The mood this Christmas is much more relaxed and I’m looking forward to kicking back and really enjoying the company of my loved ones.

What holiday traditions do you celebrate?  Have you ever “skipped” a holiday? And if so, how did you spend it?


19 thoughts on “Going Giftless”

  1. 2012 must be the gift less year because I suggested the same exact thing to all the adults and they to have all agreed to just spend time with each other. It has turned out to be the most relaxing season I have yet to encounter and I’m glad to see that you and others have done the same! Enjoy your relaxing holiday and time with friends and family! I know I will 🙂

  2. “‘Tis the season to be jolly,” not “‘Tis the season to go crazy.”

    I’ve toned down my gift giving the past few years and it has reduced my holiday stress immensely. Heiffer gifts are a great way to spread the love and also educate people (even kids) about the true meaning of Christmas. Of course it was difficult to explain to my ten-year-old Godson a few years ago that the “bunnies” he received were actually going to a third world country and would likely be eaten. I skipped that part and told him of the “joy” he would bring some poor family when they received bunnies for Christmas. This year, I took him out for dinner and a movie and we just hung out together. He’s thirteen now and I asked him if this was an okay replacement for a gift, and he said, “It was awesome!” I’m doing the same with his older brother today. Looking forward to our “date” to see THE HOBBIT later today.

    I’ll still be buying for the small children, but grown up gifts are all going to be “pay it forward” kind of gifts. Great post, Casey!

    1. I am so with you PJ – I will take an “experience” over an object anytime. I hope you enjoyed The Hobbit. I can’t wait to see it with my sons. We all went and saw The Lord of the Rings (and younger son was only 6 at the time!!), so it’s a family tradition to go together.

  3. Good post, Casey. Yes, the season has become crazy and needs to be reined back in. For several years now we’ve just been buying for the kids (and our moms, kind of hard to give that one up) and everyone’s been fine with that. My hubby and I try to give each other gifts that lead to later date nights (concert tickets, movies, etc). This year we bought the new flat screen tv (it was on sale for a great price) and called it done for each other. This also means we can generally get our shopping done in 1-2 trips. The best part of the season for me is seeing friends and family. I love the idea of the “pay it forward” gift and do that on occasions too.

    1. That sounds awesome Gail. We purchased a giang flat screen TV on Father’s Day (out of necessity) and we’ve been loving it ever since. There is nothing like The Avengers (on blue-ray) and 60 inches! As to the holidays, I enjoy seeing my family and friends too.

  4. For my family this year, it’s all about Parker. Yes, she’s only 4 months old, but a baby needs to have so many things. I get great joy in spoiling her and in helping my son and his wife out with getting some essentials. We only really do for each other, so it’s never been a burden. We make our Christmas cookies and have a wonderful dinner together. I’m really looking forward to it this year. A baby sure can make a holiday magical. Then again, isn’t that the reason for the season, the birth of one very special baby.

  5. My family started that tradition years ago and it failed miserably. First, buying only for the kids is fine if all members of the family have kids…ours don’t. So childless people were spending money and getting nothing in return. I would have been happy with a thank you note, but didn’t even get that —a fault that lies with the parents, but a fault all the same. There is no way I would not give my mother something for Christmas, but I do try to make it something practical. So through the years we have cut back on the gift giving…this year none of the kids will get a gift from us. But many of our friends and elderly neighbors will.

    1. I am really lucky Jon. I only have two nephews so it’s easy to just spoil them. And also lucky for me, my mother also suggested we stop gifts too. Once the in-laws bought in, we all were able to really enjoy the day without all the inevitable craziness. Its wonderful that you are taking the time to celebrate with your neighbors too.

  6. We do gifts for the kids (some of whom are no longer kids!), usually in the form of cash or a gas card, but years ago my sisters and I decided to exchange names among ourselves–sisters get a sister, brothers-in-law get a brother-in-law. We set a firm dollar limit, and we feel free to tell each other EXACTLY what we want (i.e., Barnes and Noble gift card for Suze, please, so she can feed her Nook habit!). So we each get a gift, and we get something we really want, and financially it’s a wash because we all spend the exact same amount. It’s worked out nicely for us. We tried to get Mom in on the exchange, but she just couldn’t not buy something for each of us, so we still buy for her too.

  7. Great post, Casey!

    For several years, I’ve been suggesting that the adults in the family go giftless. Being a teacher in a family of doctors, I’ve been nixed every year. We’ve tried to set limits, but even that has met with resistance. Maybe it makes me grinchy, but the holidays just make me crazy. And poor. And THAT makes me crazy, too! I love the decorating, and the cutting of the tree, and all of that. The rest, not so much.

    But to answer your question, yes, I’ve skipped holidays. Sometimes, those are my favorite, because they’re low key and easy, and I’m all over low key and easy!

    1. You know, I don’t miss the financial strain at all, especially now that I have two college age boys. One of these years, I’m hoping to go on a really cool vacation for Christmas – like see another part of the country. If I start dropping hints now (or maybe whispering in hubby’s ear while he’s sleeping) then maybe it will sink into his sub-conscious.

  8. Casey, one part of my family quit the gift giving. It was wonderful. It is wonderful, it has been wonderful. But that is only part, there are still others, like all thirteen grandchildren. I write a letter to each one, and put some moolah in the envelope. They love it, and each one is so lovable. Wonderful post.

  9. Christmas is my favorite time of year and always has been. It’s the weather–got to have snow–the lights, all the excitment. But it’s also the love that is shared, the joy of sharing and giving. Yet along the way with all the hecticness of shopping with a full time job as a Public Health Nurse and trying to write in my spare time, etc., it became mindboggling. You are so right to end the adult gifts. Several years ago I had 57 people to buy for and we were acturally not financiallyat the point to cover appropriate gifts. But we did it. Oh, did I mention that my credit cards went up with each and every purchase–enormously? So several years ago as the all the nieces and nephews got to be a certain age, I informed all family and friends that we’d be curtailing our gift giving. WOW, that was a heavy burden off the camel’s back let me tell you. Then last year we finally said no more for the adults–other than my son and his wife, my daughter-in-law’s mother and sister and my two granddaughters. It is so much nicer now.

    I believe in giving to charities and do so every year. I also pick a needy family in the area to give food and gift certs. One of the many charities is the Mercy Flight in our area(helicoptor transport for medical emergencies), among numerous others, including the local Humane Society where I’m a board member. Cutting back has made a world of difference and after reading all your comments, I too am going to suggest to my son and his family that after this year we can the adults and give more to charities, but of course buy for the the girls. Most of all, as several of you said, I too just enjoy the time we spend with our son and his family in CT(I’m in western NYS). One of the big enjoyments and highlights I share with my granddaughters is the making of our stupendous Gingerbread house on Christmas Eve Day. Oh my gosh do we have fun or what? It gets bigger and more elaborate each year. I’ve got the candies already to go and can’t wait. And this year it will be a delight to hear my oldest granddaughter again play piano and sing at church on Christmas Eve.

    Thanks so much for your blog. I thoroughly enjoyed it and it’s great advice. Wishing everyone a Happy Holidays. And I’m saying another of many prayers that I’ve said throughout today for all the families in Newtown after the horrific disaster today. My thoughts and prayers are with all of them.

    1. Thanks for sharing your Christmas traditions with us Beverly.

      I am deeply saddened and horrified by the terrible tragedy in Newton. All of us Scribes are from, or reside, in CT and this day has been too sad for words.

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