There's Still Time to Create a Simple, Non-Consumer Christmas

Christmas can be a season of connection, kindness, and simplicity.  Or it can be a time of stress, debt, and the frenzied pursuit of more.  

You get to choose.

Simple Gifts with Love

The advantages of buying less

2022 has been a Buy Nothing Year for me.  I realized that I had enough – more than enough, actually, because I still decluttered a few things.  

Our culture tells us the opposite.  The drumbeat of messages saying we need something more than what we already have is relentless.  And that skews our vision, making it harder to see how blessed we really are.  When you're schooled to think that you're lacking, it becomes difficult to appreciate much of anything.

It's been refreshing for me to stick with buying what we need.  I'll admit to being tempted now and then by cute displays and clever marketing, but my "rules" helped me remember that I didn't want to bring anything into my home that I didn't truly need.  I like my home to be fresh and attractive, but a spot of creativity and undecorating helped me avoid trips to a big box store.

And now we're in the middle of the Christmas Shopping Season, which should just be called the Annual Shopping Season, because shopping doesn't have much to do with Christmas.

Yes, I have purchased some new books for my grandsons, and I'm sure my daughter and son-in-law are planning to give them some new clothes and toys.  Kids are a bit different, because they're constantly learning and growing.  Of course they need new things to entertain and support them as they develop.  But it's possible to create a wonderful holiday for kids without turning it into a season of excess, and having fewer toys encourages imagination, problem-solving, sharing, and increased attention.

But what about us grownups?  Do we really need presents to have a happy holiday?

If the answer to that is yes, consider these statistics:

  • Americans spend an average of $886 on Christmas gifts.
  • 41% of Americans are willing to go into debt for Christmas.
  • The majority of Americans set a budget for Christmas, but only 64% of those people actually stick to it.
  • The estimated total of unwanted presents each year is $15.2 billion.

I realize that gift-giving is one way we show friendship and love, but as we desperately try to give the best, most memorable items, we're spending more than we can afford for things that often don't make anyone happy.

But never fear!  We can choose a different way.

3 ways to give without buying

1.  Give time and attention.

Author Rachel Macy Stafford has said, "Being fully present and active in the life of someone you love is the best gift anyone can offer."  If gift-giving is really all about love and connection, there are other ways to show you care.

  • Spend time together.  Take a walk or a hike, get together for a meal, or visit someplace you both enjoy, such as a museum.
  • Write a heartfelt letter of thanks and appreciation.
  • Print a photo of the two of you and gift it in a frame you already have.

  • Share your skill to do something for your recipient, such as preparing a dish of your famous lasagna for their freezer, giving them a massage or pedicure, or even helping them declutter or prepare for a move.

2.  Give "outside the box" gifts.

Outside the big box store, that is.  You still have time to bake pumpkin or banana bread, put together a jar of healthy and delicious bean soup mix, mix up some sugar scrub for super smooth skin, or make a cute paper bag book with pockets for family recipes, tickets, affirmations, and other little treasures.

You could re-gift a book from your shelf that you think your recipient will enjoy.

Design a "Gift of the Month Club."  Make a decorated scroll listing twelve tasks (babysitting, washing their car, raking leaves, etc.) or homemade items (such as roses or tomatoes from your garden, homegrown lavender sachets, decorated birthday cupcakes, etc.) you can give throughout the coming year.

Or pass a family heirloom or keepsake to the next generation for them to use.  Think about jewelry, a vase or candle holder, an ancestral photo, your vintage (but well-maintained) baseball mitt, a classic vinyl record (if they have a way to play it), a musical instrument, chess set, Le Creuset casserole, or Grandma's tea set or soup tureen.

3.  Give in honor of your loved one.

It's not too late to give to a charity your recipient cares about – their local animal shelter, a theater group or orchestra they support, or an international charity such as Unicef, World Vision, or the Environmental Defense Fund.  

When we realize that we not only have enough for our own needs, but plenty to share with others, we feel rich.  Make your loved one feel truly wealthy and blessed this holiday!

Here's what it's really all about.

Jesus wasn't born in a palace, but in a stable.  His parents weren't prominent or influential, they were of the working class.  As an adult, he didn't own a home or get rich from his preaching or miracles.  His birth wasn't a sign that we need more stuff.

If you're feeling influenced by advertisements, turn them off.  Tune into some music about the real meaning of the season, or take just a few minutes each morning and evening for silent thought about what matters most to you.

It's not too late to craft a simpler, kinder, more meaningful holiday.


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