How I reached a No-Gift Minimalist Christmas or Holiday Season
Tim’s post about having a reduced Christmas (and the relief that goes with it!), got me thinking about how I handle the holiday season.
It’s pretty simple. I don’t give gifts, and I don’t get them in return.
It also strengthens your resolve when you read about how retailers deal with discounts the entire year.
Here’s how it works, according to one industry consultant describing an actual sweater sold at a major retailer.
A supplier sells the sweater to a retailer for roughly $14.50.
The suggested retail price is $50, which gives the retailer a roughly 70% markup.
A few sweaters sell at that price, but more sell at the first markdown of $44.99, and the bulk sell at the final discount price of $21.99.
(Note: Profit = $7.49 or about 34%, not including overhead and operating costs like store lease, employees, etc)
That produces an average unit retail price of $28 and gives the store about a 45% gross margin on the product.
I should note that we are also not a family that is BIG on Christmas because I stopped receiving Christmas presents around the age of 10 because my father found it all a waste of money, to which he is partly right in hindsight.
As I got older, I never really did the Christmas gift-giving thing with my family, but I did it with friends.
It was fun, and it was nice to see their faces when they opened their gifts.. but I can’t say I was really all that excited about getting gifts in general, myself.
I just .. never really saw the appeal of getting gifts unless it was something I REALLY WANTED, but that never happened because what I REALLY wanted was usually out of their budget.
It wasn’t until I graduated from college and started traveling a LOT and missing a LOT of events with friends that I slowly and quietly dropped off the radar of being someone who HAD to be given a gift at Christmas and I never tried to re-introduce the practice.
It became a blessing in disguise because Santa Claus is responsible for putting folks into debt!
I JUST DON’T LIKE BEING TOLD WHEN TO GIVE GIFTS
How rebellious right?
That’s not to say I’m a Grinch.. I just don’t want to be obligated or forced to give gifts at a certain time of the year.
I give gifts with no strings attached throughout the year.
Sometimes on a whim I’ll buy something online and have it shipped to a friend because I thought of them and it makes their day, week, month, etc.
SO WHAT DO I DO WHEN I GET GIFTS?
Of course, if someone gives me a gift now, I feel obligated to buy one in return just out of politeness and courtesy.
I never, ever forget who I have given a gift to.
….but I do not actively pester people to ask them what they want, or tell people what I want.
If I ever tell you what I want for Christmas, it’s probably because I’m already about to buy it for myself because I don’t really NEED anything.
I just want stuff and my wants change from time to time. I also feel a bit awkward feeling obligated to give something back to someone for getting me said gift.
WHAT DO I DO FOR CHRISTMAS / THE HOLIDAYS NOW?
We basically spend time finding good things to cook and eat. Simple as that.
On the day of, we get together, have a good meal and spend time together totally stuffed to the gills.
I don’t get anything, I don’t give anything. Sounds like a fair trade to me.
WHAT ABOUT WHEN I HAVE THE BABY & FUTURE BABIES?
Babies don’t know what gift-giving is and therefore will definitely not be getting anything for the first few years.
After the ages of 3-5, it might become something, but who remembers anything before the age of 3-5?
I am not really that religious and neither is my partner, so more than likely the child will only have one gift a year on their birthday, when it’s a truly special day for them rather than the birthday of a religious figure in a religion we do not follow any longer.
Otherwise for the holidays around Christmas, we’re thinking of not promoting the consumerism mindset to expect something every holiday around the corner (and we are not religious folk), so we might just tell the child that this is our tradition for the holidays — to have a great big meal and spend time together with a delicious cake to boot.
Maybe they’ll get a special treat to eat instead of a gift.
At school if he or she gets asked: Whaddya get for Christmas!? .. we’ll deal with that when it comes to that.
Maybe explain how to tell other kids that they had a great meal, spent the day outside in the park playing in the snow with their family, and had a fantastic holiday instead of being stuck inside watching TV with half-drunk adults and being surrounded by toys they’ll forget a week later when the next biggest thing comes up.
Something like that.
If that sounds stingy to you, I’d pose the following 2 points:
- The child will feel even better and more special by getting a gift on THEIR birthday
- They will not miss what they are not accustomed to as a “tradition” in the family
We’ll see how it goes.
I’m not set in stone on this, but I am also trying to be careful not to give the wrong message seeing as we ourselves do not give gifts to each other as-is.
Either way, I’d rather have a holiday season for the rest of my life, with no gifts from my family, except the gift of spending time with them and having a special meal, and I’d like my kids to understand that concept as well, even if they do decide to change it up for their families in the future.