How To Tell Your Family You Don’t Want Christmas Gifts

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How to tell your family you don’t want 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 decluttering my very small home and want more space, so I don’t need stuff. I used to think 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 remember thinking, “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 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 my any means. We both grew up with very little money so we both know how to be frugal. I remember thinking I don’t want Christmas gifts…..it put too much pressure on me and my budget.

I don’t want Christmas gifts

My point today is if you are a young couple, single or an older couple 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 hand written 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’s 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 rather than give us a gift 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. It 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 to 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.

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, son-in-laws, 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 I. 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 25 and he has to have them because he said I’m the only one that makes them just right.

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 Elefant 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.

Please share the gift of love this year, May God bless you and your family. Thanks for being prepared for the unexpected.

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10 thoughts on “How To Tell Your Family You Don’t Want 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

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  • 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

      Reply
  • 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

      Reply
  • 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.

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  • 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

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply

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