Is It True That Christmas Won't Be Christmas Without Presents?

Maybe this is the year to push against some outdated Christmas assumptions.

It can be hard to give up the maximalist idea of Christmas, especially if you have children.  After all, isn't that huge pile of presents what it's all about?

But 2022 research by Gumtree (reported by the Guardian) found that while 62% of children were looking forward to gifts at Christmas, 59% were anticipating time off from school, and 48% were excited about playing games and having fun with family and friends.  Both of which involve zero shopping or unrecyclable gift wrap decorated with pictures of reindeer and a bearded guy dressed in red. 

holiday gift

Happy non-consumer holidays

A happy holiday doesn't have to include piles of plastic toys or stockings full of junk.  It doesn't have to require hours in an over-heated shopping mall or slumped over your computer trying to fill a virtual cart.  It doesn't necessitate a trip to the charity shop to offload unwanted gifts or standing in line to return them.  It doesn't call for fake smiles and forced words of thanks as you open something you don't want and didn't ask for in front of the person who bought it.

If you want to keep physical presents a part of the holiday, at least set a price cap or do some sort of Secret Santa exchange so that each person only buys one gift and receives one gift on the day.

You could also make this the year you opt for a handmade holiday, which might involve gifts of food, accessories like scarves or jewelry, natural bath or home care items, playlists, soft toys, a thrifted dress-up kit, or whatever else your creativity and skill can produce.

And how about gifts of service?  Several hours of child care for a busy parent might be worth more than any store-bought gift.  So might home-cooked meals for the freezer, a bicycle refurbishment, home repairs, or an afternoon spent doing something you both like, together.

My grandsons' Christmas gifts will include an afternoon of what my husband calls "Arctic mini golf" (in 40° F. overcast weather on the holiday-decorated course in the next town over), a visit to the antique auto museum in Sacramento, and hours spent playing Uno Flip or the junior version of Ticket to Ride* (both of which we already own).

* This blog is reader-supported.  If you buy through my links, I may earn a small commission.

Taking consumerism out of Christmas might not sound like a lot of fun, but believe me when I say that you can find many more ways to show you care about someone that buying them this year's most-hyped tchotchke, an overpriced and overpackaged Harry & David gift assortment, or yet another sweater they would never choose for themselves.

If you want to start planning for a simpler, more personalized and peaceful holiday, consider my book A Minimalist Holiday: Simplify Your Celebration for More Meaning and Joy, available on Amazon.  You don't have to do more or buy more to make the holidays mean more, and A Minimalist Holiday will show you how.

Also available:  My holiday story for children, Fairhaven Christmas Eve.  Everyone in Fairhaven is busy with holiday plans, but some have forgotten the reason for the celebration.  Three children are struggling to find the ingredients that will make the day truly special, while another has forgotten how much she has to give.


  1. Or, you could celebrate Jesus' birthday. Make cupcakes and take them to the homeless telling them you are celebrating His birthday and ask if they like a piece of His cake. You could have a knitting party while the cupcakes are baking so gifts could be knitted/crocheted hats, scarves, mittens, and socks for them.
    Linda Sand


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