6 Signs You Shouldn't Buy Another Christmas Gift

According to the National Retail Federation, consumers are expected to spend more on Christmas this year than ever before.  "After all they've been through [in 2020]," says NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz, "we think there's going to be a psychological factor that they owe it to themselves and their families to have a better-than-normal holiday."

But take a look around your home.  Honestly, don't you already have everything you need?  And if there was something you needed or wanted, haven't you already purchased it yourself?  You certainly aren't waiting for someone to buy it and wrap it up for you this holiday.

In other words, you don't need someone to buy something for you.  And likely they don't need you to buy anything for them.  So the stuff we're shopping for this holiday season isn't necessary.  It might be fun, but it's probably going to add to our clutter rather than our joy.

fewer gifts

Why should you stop shopping?

Have you reached the point where enough is enough?  Consider the (somewhat radical) possibility that you shouldn't buy another Christmas gift.

1.  You're digging yourself further into debt.

Maybe you were unable to work for part of this year due to COVID-19 restrictions, and you were using credit cards to buy basics like toilet paper and electricity.  Maybe you drew your salary as usual, but found yourself eating more take-out food or purchasing a new home entertainment system to compensate for a lack of away-from-home entertainment.  Regardless, it's a fact that most Americans are in debt, and holiday debt is an ongoing part of that.  If you're in this situation, don't continue the trend by purchasing more.

2.  You're "stealing" from savings in order to buy.

The average American can't cover a $1000 emergency.  And you won't be able to, either, if you consider holiday shopping a necessity that merits removing money from your savings accounts.  Of course, if you've created an account specifically to cover holiday costs, you're way ahead of the curve.

3.  The person you're shopping for already has "everything."

How many times have you said "I don't know what to get him – he's already got everything"?  If you're wandering through stores (or online) searching for something, anything to buy as a gift for that person, your money can probably be spent in better ways.  How about a gift in their honor to someone who doesn't have it all?

4.  The person you're shopping for already has a clutter problem.

You know this person not only has everything she needs, she has stockpiles of things she'll probably never use.  If anything, she needs help digging herself out of the chaos of her home – she certainly doesn't need to add to it.  A better gift might be help decluttering, if she's open to that.  Otherwise, why not give your help with other home chores like winterizing, cutting wood, cleaning roof gutters, raking leaves, or clearing snow?

5.  The person you're shopping for has requested "no gifts."

A growing number of people honestly don't want some new gadget or tchotchke.  They mean it when they say, "I don't want anything for Christmas this year."  Respect their wishes, and catch up over a phone call or a lunch date instead.

6.  You think one more gift will make up for the hardships of 2020.

You can bet marketers are going to take advantage of the fact that we all feel like we need a holiday that goes above and beyond to make up for The Year of COVID.  And maybe we do, but more gifts won't accomplish that.  

The short-lived high of buying or receiving an extra gift is just that – a temporary lift.  What would marketers do if anything they convinced us to buy ever provided true satisfaction?  That would be the end of most retail!  If you ever think your next purchase will finally make you happy, you're looking in the wrong place for your happiness.  

I love giving Christmas gifts, but I don't love the emphasis on buying and consumerism.  Christmas has the potential to be so much more, and we're in danger of missing that when we focus on shopping.  Maybe it's time to stop.


  1. We're apart, concerned, yet agree with much of what you say. Have given shipped to their doors live wreaths and centerpieces, special advent calendars so they know they are remembered every day, and flowering plants. Feels right, feels good.

    1. Hello Madagascar! I love the idea of giving live wreaths and centerpieces. They're a perfect lift for the season, but will not add to clutter. I also give advent calendars to my grandsons because it gives them a little everyday ritual, and they'll know their Papa and I are thinking of them, even though we're apart.


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