Why I’m Doing a No-Gift Christmas

Is anyone else Christmas obsessed? I’ve been listening to Christmas music since early November…I know, I am one of those people.

There is some *magic* about the season that, as corny as it sounds, leaves me feeling refreshed, inspired, and thankful.

Ever since I moved from Iowa to South Carolina, the holidays have looked drastically different for my family and me. I actually couldn’t make it home for two Christmases in a row due to working in the hospitality field. Christmas was an extremely busy time of year for hospitality, so I would always end up working (side note – be sure to tip any hospitality workers extra this season!).

Now that I am no longer in the hospitality industry, I am fortunate to make it home to spend time with my family over Christmas. It isn’t always easy to get home, however. A round-trip on a plane costs upwards of $375, and it is a 20 hour drive to my hometown from Charleston.

This year, my fiance, dog and I will be loading up the Jeep Wrangler and driving the long distance home to Iowa. Getting to Iowa isn’t even the most challenging part. Our families both live in the Midwest, but they live about 2.5 hours away. Which isn’t terrible, but that means that just because we are in Iowa doesn’t mean our travel is over.

Last year, my family recognized how difficult it was to even get together for the holidays. It sounds cheesy, but I have 3 sisters who live in various parts of the country. Two of them are married and have other families to visit over the holidays as well. To get our whole family together, for even 12 hours, is an achievement.

So we decided to quit giving each other Christmas gifts.

And last year’s gift-free Christmas was so wonderful that we decided to do it again this year.

We still do our regular Christmas traditions. Though we decided not to do gifts, my mother can’t seem to resist but to put a few things in each of our stockings every year, so we still get to sit around the Christmas tree and open our stockings. And we do give gifts to my three year old niece.

Here are my top 4 reasons why you should join me in doing a gift-free Christmas.

Save money

I mean, duh. You can save a ton of money by forgoing Christmas gifts.

Personally, I have a large family. I save around $400 by not giving Christmas gifts. This really helps out during the holidays, because I usually have to budget another $300 for a flight or gas to just drive home for Christmas.

Make for easier travel

My least favorite part of Christmas was figuring out how to travel with all of the gifts I already bought. Do I pay a ton to ship them after I already bought them? Ship them as I buy them directly to my parent’s house? Or take them with me on a plane or stuff them in a car?

It wasn’t ever easy to figure out how to transport all of those gifts. It wasn’t the end of the world, but I am glad to save myself the headache this year.

You don’t have to scrounge up gifts for those who have everything

Honestly, a big part of the reason we decided to stop gift-giving was because we realized we no longer knew what to give one another.

Everyone in my family is older and lives independently. If we want or need something, we save for it and buy it ourselves.

We ended up buying a lot of random, useless gifts for one another. Seriously, I think back to some of the gifts I gave and I am so embarrassed!

You remember the reason for the season

Yes, giving can be a huge lesson to learn over the holidays. But the realization of the difficulty of gift-giving forced my family to reevaluate our traditions. What was really important to us?

Our number one priority was being able to spend time together. Forgoing the traditional Christmas gifts has made the holiday season ore enjoyable for all of us and we are able to experience life with one another instead of finding joy in things.

Not sure if you’re ready to give up Christmas gifts completely? Here are 4 alternatives to traditional gift giving, sure to still save you money.

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10 thoughts on “Why I’m Doing a No-Gift Christmas

  1. Well you and your family found a good deal on no-gift for Christmas, I love to do gifts and not only during this time of year but being on abudget I use creativity a lot this year a lot of handmade natural soaps with chocolates and/or cookies, nice gifts on a budget….

    1. That’s awesome! I totally understand why some families are reluctant to give up gifts. It’s fun to give and receive!

  2. 100% agree. I don’t see the point in giving gifts anymore…there are a few little ones in my family, but I haven’t even seen one of them since moving. To that point, my family is the same way – two of my cousins live farther away, and my aunt visits them for the holidays, so getting all of us together is usually impossible.

    My mom refuses to give up gifts, though. Her excuse is that something needs to be under the tree. I enjoy spoiling my parents so they (and my grandma) are the exception to the gift-giving rule, but I wish we could all just have fun spending time together without the hassle of figuring out what everyone wants!
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    1. Mothers seem to be the common exception to the no-gift Christmas rule! My mom is the same way…she just can’t resist. Luckily, since my niece was born, we can all focus on spoiling her instead of giving gifts for one another.

  3. I love the idea of a No-Gift Christmas. We did this one year and it was actually one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had. We did do gifts for the kids, but the adults just relaxed sans presents and it was AWESOME.

    1. Love it! I felt the same last year. My family actually felt relaxed and stress free for the holidays!

      Plus, without eating, you can focus on the more important parts of the season…like EATING! 🙂

  4. We’ve slowly moved this direction and finally convinced my extended family to do secret santas, which everyone was really happy about. This year we layered on something additional where siblings don’t exchange gifts (EASY sell). My Mom is 100% adamant that we WILL be exchanging gifts with her and my Dad. It’s hard to wrap my head around but she basically thinks it’s not Christmas if we don’t exchange with them…which puts all of us in a tough spot because they spend like $100 on each of us (and now my wife too!). It is what it is, though, and we likely will never avoid that being part of my family’s Christmas.

    My wife’s family does not exchange which is awesome! Oh we do also give gifts to my cousins because they are young. I actually kind of enjoy it as one of my cousin’s is really into Legos and I used to love them growing up. It’s fun to buy them for her and help her build them : )
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    1. Parents always seem to be the last ones on board, but it’s understandable! I think it helped my parents when they had grandchildren. We all love spoiling my niece and seeing her open gifts instead of us!

  5. Oh, I wish we could convince our families to go gift-free! We don’t live quite so far from everyone, but it’s still a trip and we’ve said for years we wanted ONLY to get together (and eat good food). Yet, every year, we somehow end up getting multiple gifts from our parents. One relative even admitted she had just grabbed random stuff so she’d have something to give me. Why? I don’t get it. We have little kids, so why not just do a few gifts for them and leave it at that? Have fun; your family is doing exactly what we would love.

    1. It took some convincing and compromising, but we are happy with no-gifts! Totally get your desire to just spend time together (and EAT!!)

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