You Don’t Want or Need Christmas Gifts

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How to tell your family you don’t want or need Christmas gifts is on the docket today. Every year in November I send an email to my four daughters to remind them that Mark and I no longer need or want any Christmas gifts. I also call them, to let them know we are fine with it.

I don’t want them to feel guilty that we are not getting a present under the tree. I’m updating this post because I feel more than ever before that this topic is important.

I’ve spent the last year or so decluttering my small home and it’s been refreshing to have more space. We have now sold that home and are looking forward to a new adventure in Northern Utah where we’ll be closer to family. I’m grateful that I did the decluttering since it made the packing and moving somewhat easier. It also reminded me that I don’t need stuff.

In case you missed this post, Old-Fashioned Vintage Christmas Candy Recipes

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You Don’t Want or Need Christmas Gifts

You Don't Want or Need Christmas Gifts

Stuff Was Awesome

I used to think the stuff was awesome, but then you get to an age and stage in life that you realize stuff doesn’t make you happy. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting up on Christmas morning and watching the grandkids take turns opening presents.

When I was little I got one present and I was thrilled with that ONE gift. I’m glad that my daughters don’t go overboard with spending money on gifts for their kids at this time of the year. They have never gone into debt to buy Christmas stuff, I’m so proud of them.

I remember when Mark and I were first married and some of the family members on both sides wanted to give gifts to each other. I thought at the time, “Oh my gosh, we can hardly afford groceries.”

We were putting Mark through college and he was working two or three jobs and I was babysitting kids and ironing clothes for people just to bring in extra money. I also made bread to sell to my neighbors so we could survive.

In 1972 we didn’t know about or didn’t want to use student loans or grants or low-income housing to make things work out financially for us. I remember there was a waiting list to live on campus in student housing.

We scraped every penny and bought our first home for $18,400.00. Now we were only making a few hundred dollars a month back then so we were not rolling in the dough by any means. We both grew up in homes with very little money, so we both know how to be frugal.

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I remember thinking I don’t want Christmas gifts, it puts too much pressure on me and my budget, and that’s how I feel about my kids and their gifts.

I don’t want Christmas gifts

My point today is if you are a young couple, single, or even an older couple on a limited income, you don’t have to spend money to make other people happy, or even yourself happy. I remember one of the best gifts my parents ever received from my family was a handwritten letter, expressing our love for them and thanking them for memories we had shared together.

I will never forget the look on my dad’s face when he opened his letter. He literally started crying with joy and pulled his handkerchief out of his pocket to wipe his tears. My mom also had tears rolling down her face with her lips trembling as she read her special notes of love.

Here’s the deal, if you want to give a lot of presents and have the means to do it, so be it. But some of us don’t, and I would rather have my daughters pay off their houses or help the grandkids with college expenses than give us or another relative a gift that will end up in the thrift store in a year or two. Does that make sense?

I live in a neighborhood that has a few elderly people and some have mentioned their kids arranged the gift of having someone clean their house once a month. They are in their eighties, what a great gift. The special gift approach doesn’t clutter a house, and who doesn’t love a CLEAN house, right?

It’s hard at first to mention to Aunt Bella that you would rather have a phone call or personal visit from time to time than to exchange checks for each other or gift cards.

I would much rather plan an inexpensive day at the park together (complete without any mobile devices) with friends and family. Or in the backyard roasting marshmallows over an open fire pit. We can give handmade letters containing memories we have shared together. I promise those are the best gifts.

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Start New Traditions

The first year you start a NEW tradition of giving less, or nothing, the easier it is on all those involved. It was very hard the first year I decided I could no longer give Christmas gifts to my daughters, sons-in-law, and grandkids.

Was it uncomfortable, yes? But, I will not use a credit card just to give a gift I can’t afford to give. The funny thing is my grandchildren didn’t even notice there wasn’t a gift for them under the tree from Mark and me.

I realize some people will say, “I HAVE to give something to my grandkids.” I get it, but I can’t. The funny thing is they didn’t even notice.

They know when they come to visit me I will make them Mickey Mouse pancakes and that’s the highlight of their visit. My oldest grandson is 28 and he has to have them because he said I’m the only one that makes them just right.

The Exchange Civic Club

This year when we attended Mark’s civic club’s Christmas Social we were asked to bring some socks suitable for teenage boys and girls. The local Children’s Justice Center had expressed the need to provide these to families they were working with.

Usually, the Exchange Club had a White Elephant gift exchange as part of the social, and although it was fun and generated some laughs, my guess is that many of those gifts are thrown away shortly after the party.

It really gave me a good feeling to know that the small gift of socks we and the others provided would be gratefully received and immediately put to use.

Final Word

Christmas is such a special time of year. We plan company parties, have family gatherings with those we love, and we exchange gifts with all those people who we cherish. There are so many ways to express love this time of year.

If you really think you need to give “something,” consider adding to your family’s food storage or emergency prep inventory. If you have the means, you might also consider taking a trip with family or special friends. What a great opportunity to build memories that will last a lifetime.

As you make your Christmas plans this year, please share the gift of love. Please let your family know if you don’t want or need Christmas gifts. May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Gift Pile Depositphotos_91786660_S

22 thoughts on “You Don’t Want or Need Christmas Gifts

  • December 22, 2016 at 9:19 am
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    Linda!! My friend,
    What a wonderful post. Trust me when I say I understand about getting rid of stuff. We too have moved a much smaller house and though I still have trinkets that I am emotionally attached to I have made the determination to allow the others to move forward. It actually feels good once you do it. What is with that anyway?? And why do we get attached to things?
    The ideas you gave were great. I usually say please just give us a gift card for IHOP so we can go out and eat without guilt…but I like your ideas. For some reason people just hate NOT to give something. Geez, guilt is such a useless emotion.
    Well, I am just stopping by to say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family. We plan to spend Christmas Eve with my daughter and her family all snuggled up next to the fire with hot chocolate to warm our hands and family fellowship to warm our hearts. The boys are getting big and my Trevor will hit college next year. (whine) But it is all good. eh?
    Linda, you are doing a fantastic job with your post and we enjoy reading what you have to say. Keep hitting those computer keys and helping people get prepared. Things seem to look good…I am waiting for the other shoe to drop. Things are changing so we might as well accept it and prepare to stay safe, warm and fed.
    Thank you and God bless you and yours.
    Love to all,
    Vivian
    Cincinnati Ohio

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    • December 22, 2016 at 6:43 pm
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      Hi Vivian, oh how I love hearing from you, my friend! Staying with family sounds fabulous especially the fireplace, the hot chocolate and the love that will be spread with the snuggles! I make hot cocoa for my granddaughter when I go up north. We will be staying at our daughters for Christmas, I can’t wait to see them! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Hugs! Linda

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  • December 22, 2016 at 10:34 am
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    Linda, how funny is this….. I just had this very conversation with my daughters today. Thank you for reinforcing that I am normal and not alone in my feeling regarding presents. My girls and their families are my world and I want them to know how much I love them every single day of the year; and I know they love me. The kindness and care they show to their aging mother is better then any costly present(s). As I have matured, my wants and needs are to trust in the Lord, good health and happy, healthy family and friends. What a blessing…. greatest present ever! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

    p.s. My 14-year old granddaughter loves your prepping wisdom as do I. It is so fun sharing her prepping passion with her.

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    • December 22, 2016 at 6:52 pm
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      Hi Katherine, oh I’m glad to hear we both are on the same page! I realize it may be hard for people not to give gifts but I would rather have my kids pay off their house or save the money or whatever. Yes, you and I are normal, let’s go with that!! I love hearing this comment! My family is my world as well and we show love in other ways besides stuff. Merry Christmas to you my friend, here’s to good health and love throughout the world! I love hearing your granddaughter is learning the wisdom of prepping! Merry Christmas to you and your family! Hugs! Linda

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  • December 22, 2016 at 12:51 pm
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    Linda, you nailed it. I just had this talk with my in laws. I said I loved them, but we didn’t need or want anything. They said the same thing. Presents for children or for people starting out is one thing, presents for retired people who just want to clean out a life’s worth of stuff is another. Love isn’t shown through presents. Have a wonderful, safe, and prepared holiday!!

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    • December 22, 2016 at 6:47 pm
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      Hi Janet, I always get nervous when I write my idea about not needing Christmas gifts, but I do it anyway. I know there must be people like you and me who are thinking the same thing. You are so right love is not shown through presents. Have a great holiday and New Year! Hugs! Linda

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  • December 23, 2016 at 8:24 am
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    I had this idea a little late in the season, but a wonderful gift to someone who lives close, would be to teach them a life skill that they could need. I love to teach people how to make soap, can, garden, cheese making, cook from scratch.

    On another note, I found a great idea on Pinterest that my husband and I are going to use. It is don’t buy ANYTHING for a month, and see how you fare. We started this on the 21st (I won’t say that is the best time to start this). My husband then said he would like tacos. I learned how to make tortillas, made sour cream out of cottage cheese and sour cream powder. They were the best tacos we have ever had. I love that I had to get inventive. If times get tough, we will have practice.

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    • December 29, 2016 at 10:04 am
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      Hi Janet, oh this is a good one! I love the idea of teaching life skills. I was just talking to two of my daughters and I told them I don’t worry about them (we live 300-400 miles apart) because they can cook from scratch. They can make bread, etc. I wish we could teach the world how important it is to cook from scratch or garden or can foods we produce. Great comment, glad you could make tacos! I love it! Hugs, Linda

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  • December 25, 2016 at 7:18 am
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    Merry Christmas to you, Mark, and the rest of the family!

    Love and Hugs, Mare

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    • December 29, 2016 at 10:05 am
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      Merry Christmas, Mare and now Happy New Year! Hugs to you my friend! Linda

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  • October 25, 2021 at 7:21 am
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    Great post, as usual, Linda. Gifts are not necessary for us. They are not the reason for the season.

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    • October 25, 2021 at 9:15 am
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      Hi Karl, I totally agree, let’s bring back the true meaning of Christmas! Linda

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  • October 25, 2021 at 7:49 am
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    Hi Linda. Great article. In years past, I’ve tried to buy 1 thing for my sister and maybe some smaller items (just to fill up the box) throughout the year. This year, with things the way they are, I’m doing something completely different. I’m sending her homemade goodies, bread, cake, cookies and candy. She always tells me not to send her anything because she knows I really can’t afford it, but I love surprising her. I remember my mother making stuff like that at Christmas when I was a kid and how much people enjoyed getting her gifts. Guess I’m just keeping her tradition going. I always make a tray of goodies to take down to the office here at the park for they guys that work here as a “Thank You” for all they do throughout the year to help me out. Hope you have a Great Holiday season. Bless you for all that you do and the kindness you show and share with others.

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    • October 25, 2021 at 9:17 am
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      Hi Pam, well, your comment really hit me with goosebumps and teary-eyes for a good reason. This time of year my mom (in heaven) always made raisin-filled cookies and other goodies for those that helped her throughout the year. Homemade things and goodies are the best gifts ever. Linda

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  • October 25, 2021 at 9:53 am
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    I am one of those people that like to give gifts at Christmas BUT we don’t spend a lot and I pick up stuff all year long, Coupons and sales RULE!!. Mostly clothing for the grands and we consult with the boys for the “Santa” gift. In our family we do a tradition that my mother in law started back when dad in law didn’t make a lot or didn’t have a job. They draw names. Everybody over 18 gets put in the pot, you draw a name and that’s the person you get a gift for. Limited to NO MORE than $25. The little ones aka the grands get a small gift from their aunts, uncles and grandparents. We draw at Thanksgiving and it’s a riot. The rule is, you can’t get yourself or your spouse. OH and if you get the same person two years in a row, you can’t get that person the third time. That came about because one of my Brother in laws (DH has 4 bros and a sis) and I got each other 2 years in a row, so third year Thanksgiving rolled around he and I just handed each other our lists, Mom then instituted the 2 year in a row rule. Because of the no spouse, no self rule,and 2 yr rule we have a lot of fun with drawing names. One year it took us 17 times to get it straight. Our international guests thoroughly enjoyed themselves that year. Yes, we had my SIL’s fiance, his mother from Hong Kong and three gentlemen from Japan, his co workers that came to learn the American side of the business. They would have been stuck in a hotel that week end, so of course I said have them come. One thing that came out of it is the next month when 3 more people came over for the exchange program, they asked where they could get Thanksgiving feast, the fiance had to explain our holiday to them and why there was no Thanksgiving feast. They were understandably disappointed as the men that went back must have raved about the “feast”. I must have done something good as now my “feast” is internationally known LOL. My table is always open for guests no matter what the occasion. My SIL and I traded the holidays after my in laws passed because she wanted the grands to go to Grandma and Grandpas for Christmas. So now I do Christmas and she does Thanksgiving. My oldest granddaughter (16) is looking forward to when she gets put into the pot, as she said once “then I’m grown up”.

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    • October 25, 2021 at 1:24 pm
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      Hi Kathy, oh I LOVE LOVE LOVE hearing family stories and traditions. The 16-year-old, that’s so fun that she can’t wait! Our door is always open as well for the “feast”! Life is so good when we break bread or a meal together! This is awesome! Linda

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  • October 25, 2021 at 9:55 am
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    I think we’ll eventually get to minimal gifts for Christmas now we’re older. I love to hear creative ideas people come up with like homemade candy, baked goods, hand-sewn items, etc. like many give friends & neighbors. My quilt group shares ideas like potholders, pillows, etc. every year.

    I spent last winter after Christmas downsizing too as we are getting older. I couldn’t believe how much stuff I had that was child related from raising a family that is now passed on to my children! I had 2 huge boxes of Halloween costumes alone! But I still have plenty as I’m not dead yet and still have things I enjoy using (like lots of dish sets!). But I’ve donated, sold, tossed, or gave to my kids all the excess for where I’m in life now. It feels good to actually have some empty shelves in the bookcases. So I totally understand not wanting a lot of things as gifts. I notice a lot of people are giving “experiences” like tickets to a play, museum, or activity. That’s especially nice when it’s done together!

    I love Christmas but also wasn’t raised with excessive presents in a similar time period as you Linda. My biggest problem is a son-in-law whose love language is gifts. His mother tried to make up for a missing father with presents and still gives very expensive gifts although it’s taking from money she really needs now she’s older. There is no changing that. I am not going to compete with the other grandma who spends about $300 per grandchild (she just has 3 so far).

    I have lowered the amount I’m spending on everyone this year. I buy grandchildren’s gifts (toys) for about $20-$25 throughout the year when I see a good deal and that has really helped with the supply problems this year. When they are too big for toys, there are more grandchildren, and we are even older and on a retirement income then things will have to change again as I can’t see being able to afford or do all that shopping.

    My husband is very handy (which my son-in-laws are not) so we have offered to repair something for them including parts if they’re not too expensive. They seem delighted with that idea and are deciding what to have us do.

    I have a friend who gives grandkids books for around $10 and that seems like a good plan too. I’d love to hear ideas of what other people do who don’t want to quit gifts entirely.

    Reply
    • October 25, 2021 at 1:31 pm
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      Hi Kay, I agree, the little ones need a gift. Our youngest grandchild has now 15 so we miss the little ones running around. I love the “fix” idea as a gift. My husband tried so hard to be a fix-it person but, he’s not like our son-in-law. He literally can fix anything. It’s such a blessing to my daughter and her budget. I love trading skills, the best gift ever. The book idea is awesome as well. We are teaching the gift of reading. I think even when I was working I would never give a $300.00 gift, it’s just me. I love the experiences together idea. We all need ideas. Great comment, Kay! Linda

      Reply
  • October 25, 2021 at 1:33 pm
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    How about if you take this original “You Don’t Want or Need Christmas Gifts” and change it to “…anniversary gifts” or “…birthday gifts” the rest of the year, or something like that?
    I remember a couple of years ago when we were planning on throwing a party for our 30th anniversary. We didn’t want any gifts, but people kept asking us about it. So, let me explain what we did. Our church supports some kids who lived in a garbage dump in Kenya, S Africa. Or rather I should say many kids in that garbage dump. Over several years, our church has raised enough money to bring approx 75 of those kids out of that dump & into boarding schools, educated them, and fed & clothed them, all to improve their young, precious lives. Many of my fellow church attendees have sponsored at least one child, and many have sponsored more than one, by contributing a flat amount of money each month per child. The year of our party a way was being researched on how to provide clean drinking water for each child & their family through the use of individual water filtration systems, in addition to the gigantic water tanks already built in villages to make clean drinking water available for everyone in that particular village. The smaller filtration system was something hand-held & new. So that’s what we zeroed in on purchasing since they were expensive for just one small system like that. I think we ended up with enough donations-instead-of-gifts to purchase several. Other couples/groups copied our idea & did the same thing & the whole project became an outstanding success!

    So once again some of my favorite words “where there’s a will, there’s a way” came to fruition. I hope this post sparks some imaginations out there.

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    • October 25, 2021 at 3:36 pm
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      Hi Janet, Wow, wow, wow! I LOVE LOVE LOVE this idea. A few years ago it was our 50th wedding anniversary, and it didn’t seem right to celebrate when our whole world/Country was in chaos. Of course, the pandemic didn’t help either. We opted to go to dinner, not expensive, but simple. I would have loved to have done your project. Best idea ever! Thank you for sharing, Linda

      Reply
  • October 25, 2021 at 7:15 pm
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    Our budget was tight, but we did our best to keep the magic of Christmas alive. We shopped for all gift needs year round. You would be amazed at all the “like new” clothes, books and toys we got from garage sales. Our youngest even got a brand new bike that the neighbor of a friend was getting rid of. Even now, I found 4 brand new toiletries travel cases complete with tags, for $1. New Yankee Candles for $1-$2 each.We live near Fisher-Price, so we often got good quality toys at clearance prices…….many that our grandchildren play with now. We never did the excess. New pajamas for Christmas Eve. Good books were a must. Clothes the kids needed.

    To “celebrate ” with friends and neighbors without the pressure of gifts, we did a Christmas in July party. I would freeze snowballs in the winter for the party. We would put up an artificial tree in the yard, and decorate with Styrofoam peanut for snow. Everyone brought their favorite Christmas cookies and candy.

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    • October 25, 2021 at 8:27 pm
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      Hi Chris, oh that would be awesome to live by a Fisher-Price store to watch for clearance items. I remember watching garage sales for my girls for their well-made toys. Garage sales and finding items at rock-bottom sales rocks! Life is good when we can enjoy holidays without spending a lot. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the Christmas in July party! Great comment, Linda

      Reply

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