I’m Giving The Gift of a Guiltfree Ungift. Join Me Won’t You?

I don’t have to tell you that there are plenty of people this year out of work and hurting. Some things have gotten better but for the most part we are still right in the middle of the recession. Yet there is word that sales this shopping season have picked up over the last few years and people are tossing their new found frugality to the wayside so they can buy the unforgettable Christmas that their friends and family deserve.

I’m here today to ask you to stop. If you are buying gifts on credit because you don’t have the money to buy things this year, please don’t do that to yourself or to your future.

If you think that your kids will never forgive you, or your co-workers and friends will view you as a scrooge, don’t let that get to you. You need to look after your families best interest and with the average home in mountains of debt, that money can surely be put to better use paying down debt or funding retirement. Please consider what really matters here; time spent, love shared and experiences gained. Not stuff.

Personally, I don’t want others around me feeling like they are obligated to get me a gift so I’m asking all of my friends and family to give me the gift of their peace of mind. I’m asking that my friends and family not get me any gifts this year and I want them to put the money they would have spent on me towards something that will help them in this time of need. Lifting a tiny portion of the stress and burden of Christmas for the ones I love is the least I can do.

What ever happened to the Christmases of years past where families would sit around a warm fire, sings songs and drink hot cocoa together? Are we really completely dependent on the endorphin-rush of opening big shiny gifts on Christmas morning that we would sacrifice so much for that? It’s no wonder that so many people get depressed over the holidays…

Here are a few ways to gracefully reject the consumerism of Christmas:

  • Check out Ramit Sethi’s No Christmas Gifts This Year – This site is a form, customizable to your liking, that you can send to friends and family asking for experiences instead of gifts this year.
  • Propose a Re-gift Christmas to friends and family – Instead of buying all new things, ask your friends and family over to participate in a used gift exchange where they simply wrap up something they got previously as a gift for Christmas. This can be a serious evening with gifts that were good but you got all the use out of them that you could, or it could be more of a White Elephant gift exchange filled with laughter. Either way, it should be nearly free and a memory you can all take with you.
  • Plan a Gift and Game Christmas– Have friends and family wrap up and bring a gift that they love and would like to share. These items can be games that when unwrapped, you all play together, books that when unwrapped are read aloud, or even photo albums that everyone will get a kick out of. At the end of the night, everyone takes their gift back home.

Now I’m no fool, I know kids expect something at Christmas. I still plan on getting some modest gifts for my kids and wife but it’s heartbreaking to hear of friends and family struggling to find a way to provide Christmas to their family especially when I know that I am on their list too.

P.S. Here’s a little template of a letter you can send out:

Dear friend and/or family member,

The economy still hasn’t fully recovered this year and I know I’m not the only one feeling it. That is why I’m writing to ask you to forgo any gift that you were planning to give me this year. I wouldn’t feel right knowing that while short on cash, you still went out of your way to get me something. I would much prefer that you spend that money on your family.

Another goal of mine for 2011 is to keep clutter in my life to a minimum and focus my energy on more important things. That also falls in line with my Christmas wish to not receive any gifts.

So when you are doing your shopping this year, think of me, but cross me off your list before you get me anything. I’d much rather spend an evening with you and your family than have to work off that extra 5lbs of holiday weight that your Christmas candy contributed to 😉

Image by kelp1966

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6 People have left comments on this post

» Car Negotiation CoachNo Gravatar said: { Dec 3, 2010 - 08:12:05 }

J-Man I love this. I’m completely against spending money for the sake of spending money at the holidays. You can do little things to show you care, but dropping the big bucks on each and every person is just ridiculous.

Some of my family has come around, but several are completely in the other camp. As a result, half of the family does a polyanna with just one gift given and received per person…..and the other half ends up spending way too much money unnecessarily….

BTW- Don’t feel like you have to get me anything.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Ok Coach, I’ll strike you from my list 😉

It really seems like spending money because the retailers expect us to around this time of year and I’m just not gonna “stimulate the economy” at my own downfall. I’d much rather spend time with my family. Good luck with yours, I have some that are the same way and I just have to keep reminding them what it’s really all about.

» Barb FriedbergNo Gravatar said: { Dec 4, 2010 - 08:12:16 }

This post fits right in with my holiday theme to have the best holiday season ever with experiences. And avoid overspending. I am putting this in my round up. Please check out my first ever youtube video on the topic. Wonderful article Jesse.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

Thanks Barb, that’s really what it’s all about right? Having a good time with family and creating memories, not filling retailers quotas. Thanks for including me in the round-up and I’ll check out the video.

» CorinaNo Gravatar said: { Dec 5, 2010 - 09:12:11 }

Great Advice! It’s tough to break the habit but you have to.

Jesse MichelsenNo Gravatar Reply:

It just takes effort and drive, like any other habit 😉

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