Why My Family Doesn’t Give a Single Christmas Present

Posted on December 17, 2017

For those of you out there feeling overwhelmed by Christmas, this post is for you. Deciding what Christmas presents to buy your family/friends while also dealing with real-life grinches and distractions that take us away from the true holiday season is a lot to deal with!

What once was an age-old tradition to celebrate our savior’s birth and gather around the fire with loved ones, has turned into the most chaotic, commercialized, and stressful time of year. Don’t get me wrong - I love Christmas! I love the music, the decorations, the endless parties to justify cookie eating 5 times a week, and all the timeless memories I associate with Christmas.

However, I've seen what this merry time of the year can do to people. According to the most recent numbers from the American Research Group, on average Americans will spend $983 shopping for Christmas presents, up $54 from last year's average of $929.

It’s no wonder why we are flooded with embarrassing headlines of the crazy behavior that goes down on Black Friday! Then there's always people racking up extreme credit card bills, which they'll end up paying off all year, just because they wanted to buy the "perfect" presents. Unfortunately, this all results in higher stress and lack of sleep, which ends up making this time of year not so jolly for many.

How My Family Found a New Way to Make Christmas Jolly

Christmas presents under a tree, wrapped with brown paper and red ribbons.

Say Goodbye to all that wrapping paper =)

A few years ago, me and my family decided to do Christmas a little bit different and at least attempt to change the things we could control. To start, we had a talk about presents. As in, what’s the point? What do we all really need?

This conversation led to a practice that has been a game changer for us: No MORE presents! Everyone was on board and agreed that from now on during Christmas we would give each other a shared experience. We all love to travel and figured why not spend the holiday doing it together someplace new.

The reasons behind our choice were simple: not only would going somewhere new be exciting, but it'd also take away the stress of trying to buy the right presents for each other. And even better, because we didn't have to buy presents, nobody would have to spend hours browsing the internet for another kitchen gadget that'd end up under someone's cabinets collecting dust.

Having just returned from Antigua, (our family Christmas destination for this year!) I can honestly say this is the best present any of us could have given or received. All 6 of us took a week to lounge in the West Indies, sip on Pina Coladas, and even shared a family scuba dive. This has led to a stress-free Christmas season, allowing us to focus on what this season is truly about: sharing time with love ones, reflecting on the gift that has been given to us, and remembering love is the guiding principle.

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We found the whole island of Antigua decked with Christmas Cheer

Below are 5 tips to make sure your star shines a little brighter this holiday season and many future ones to come.

5 Tips For a Happy and Stress-Free Holiday Season

Just Say No – you don’t have to make it to every holiday gathering you were invited to. Choose those that are extremely important to you and don’t blink an eye about the rest.

Focus on You- yes, this may be the season to give, but not if that means you sacrifice your best self. Don’t skip the gym or meal-prepping because you feel the obligation to get wrapped up in the Holiday hubbub. Think of the in-flight safety spiel oxygen masks. Help yourself first, so you are able to help others.

Not all gifts come in boxes- Think of things you and your family can agree upon that would truly benefit the entire family. Is it a getaway to a tropical island, is it a night out to Hamilton, perhaps it's family game night at home with everyone’s favorite takeout present? Time and shared experience can’t top any gift (in my humble opinion).

Breathe- Besides causing stress, the holidays can also bring mixed emotions for many. Now more than ever it is crucial to slow down and just breath. If you have never given meditation a try, this is a great time to start. Check out these top meditation apps like Headspace and Oak that have helped me and millions of others to be a calmer, happier self, which is a great gift to give your loved ones that you may see only once or twice a year .

Serve Others- With all this extra time you have since you will no longer need to be spending it at the mall or browsing Amazon to find those presents, take it to go serve your community. If it has been a while since you last volunteered let me remind you of the feeling you get once you do: it's magical! There is no better way to embody the Christmas spirit than serve others. Check out this site to find a volunteer organization near you.

I hope you can begin to re-think Christmas and the season that surrounds it. Perhaps this year you can have that same conversation that I did with my family a few years ago and forever stop the gift-giving madness and go share an experience instead! ‘Tis the season to stop, reflect, and give in other ways that don’t necessarily fit under a tree.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

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About the Author:

Picture of Bre Johnson
Bre Johnson is the Head of Growth at an amazing company out of Silicon Valley called GoNitely. When she is not growing business, you can find her volunteering, traveling to find Megalodon, and testing out the latest biohack. She lives by the principle, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years” – Abraham Lincoln

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