No Holiday Gifts - 'Tis the Season
for a New Tradition?

Holiday Scenery

It’s the Season of Giving and you're thinking no holiday gifts would be a nice rule to set for yourself. Traditions are awakened at Christmas but what if…

  • You really need to get your finances together.
  • You find yourself feeling overwhelmed even before the holidays are upon you.
  • Your family is growing and drawing the gift-giving line is difficult.
  • You would like to begin a new tradition that involves different expressions of love and gratitude.

Deliver the Message

You have to speak up before gifts come flowing your way. If you’ve always exchanged gifts before, mention well-ahead of time that you would like to change your holiday tradition with everyone.

Some ideas that might work for you.

  • “Family, I’m going to pass on exchanging gifts this year. It’s not because I don’t value each of our relationships, it’s just that (add the reason for the change).”
  • “Fams, I want all of you to know that you are held very dear, and that this year, rather than exchange material gifts, I want to suggest that we do something different.”
  • In person, give friends and family their greeting cards sharing the ways in which that person is special to you.

However you decide to make your no holiday gifts request, deliver it in a respectful, loving manner. Some family members may lean toward being shocked or take offense. Be prepared to smooth things over with them.

The No Holiday Gifts Aftermath

Feedback from your family will vary. You may find that some agree with you, but the majority will push back. Remember, you are trying to change a long-standing human tradition. And while you may curb your own gift giving, it is unfair to forbid anyone else from giving gifts.

But there is no need for you to apologize for your no-holiday-gifts idea or for asking to change things up. You are entitled to your own opinions and to ask for what is best for you and your current circumstances. If other people do not agree with you, try taking a “live and let live” approach.

If you receive a gift, the etiquette-ful thing to do is to promptly say thank you! Avoid tacking on your reason for not giving a gift in return. Gratitude is all that is required. A note of thanks in the near future is always appreciated, or you might consider a creative way to show how grateful you are to be remembered during the holidays.

After the holiday season, you may want to have conversations with others on how they feel about gift-giving. Who knows—your friends or family might have been harboring some of the same thoughts as you. Other ideas for ways to give to others may become an annual affair as building relationships is always a two-way street. After all, gift-giving has always been a part of civilization and it may be that you need find new ways to share your thoughtfulness and generous spirit.

Breaking with tradition is no easy task but creating new traditions can be a fun adventure. Try getting your family – and friends – on board with this change in perspective. Gifts come in many forms, so finding the best form to make everyone feel good and keep the spirit of Christmas intact is your mission. You may find that no holiday gifts could be the best gift of all.

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