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A No-Gift Christmas with Kids

The following post is from Rachel of The Minimalist Mom:

A No-Gift Christmas with Kids at
photo credit: jimmiehomeschoolmom

Heather Greenwood Davis’s family is having their second no gift Christmas.

Heather and her husband took their two sons on an around the world adventure for a year and living out of backpacks changed their views on what they really need. Not only because they lived with so few possessions but also because they saw how little people in other countries have. Last Christmas they wanted to give the gift of time to each other and Heather knew that she would be able to do that if they nixed the gift giving. The experiment was so successful they’ve decided to do it again. This year Heather, her husband and their boys will go to Cuba for the holiday season and again abstain from gift giving and receiving.

We haven’t had a completely gift-free Christmas yet but our 2011 one was pretty close. We went away for the holidays and on Christmas morning our son opened just one gift. It was a very relaxing December, and I can see us doing something similar again. In the interim we’re trying to focus less on buying stuff and instead, just like Heather, use our time together for fun and making memories.

Heather wrote that her no-gift Christmas was more rewarding for her and her family than she expected, but also, it relieved a lot of holiday stress that many of us think is unavoidable.

I had expected it might be a weight off my shoulders, but I was still surprised when it happened. There’s a lot of pressure associated with gift-giving around the holidays that just doesn’t manifest when I give a gift on a Tuesday in May just because. – Heather Greenwood Davis on not giving Christmas gifts

The downside to the no-gift Christmas: it can upset others. I could relate to Heather’s comments that their choice to skip the gifts made some people really uncomfortable. When my husband and I made some big and small changes to reduce our stuff – and the debt, stress and clutter that they came with – a few people were upset with our choices. My guess was that they felt our choices reflected negatively on their own.

While I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about my own choices, what I do and don’t bring into my home and life, I don’t spend much time thinking about my neighbors choices. Many people love giving and receiving lavish gifts, love the hustle and energy of holiday shopping and feel their house is only complete when there are three trees up and an abundance of twinkling lights outside.

Embrace what brings you joy. Gifts or no gifts. One Christmas tree or a half dozen of them.

While a no-gift Christmas isn’t for every family, I really admire Heather’s commitment to less waste and stress and more fun and connection through the holiday season. I particularly admire it because her sons are committed to the cause and they’re in those tween years, the ones I think will be very challenging for my family. If Heather can help her boys see the beauty, simplicity and benefits of a no-gift Christmas, there is a better chance I will be able to do the same.

You can see a short interview with Heather here and more about their no-gift Christmas on her blog, GlobeTrottingMama.

More inspiration for fewer gifts and more meaning this holiday season:

Could you have a no-gift Christmas with your family? What would your stumbling blocks be?

Rachel Jonat is a former world medalist rower turned marketing professional turned SAHM/writer. At The Minimalist Mom, Rachel writes about living a rich life with less stuff. Currently living on a windswept island in the middle of the Irish Sea, Rachel owns two pairs of jeans, lives without a car and is attempting to become a tea drinker.