I have an announcement to make, and I hope everyone I love gets to read this post. I WILL NOT be buying Christmas gifts this year. It’s not because I don’t love you or don’t care. It’s because I have a third child on the way. There are plenty of things to do with our money that are far more important than buying gifts people can do without.
Every year, so many of us get caught up in buying gifts for the people we love because we love to give. And it does feel like the right thing to do. I love to give as well, so I get it. But I think it’s ridiculous that we live in a culture that makes people feel obligated to give what they don’t have.
We should give only when we are able to give comfortably. You should never feel obligated to give. Giving shouldn’t stress us out or leave us with bills and regrets. Giving should feel like a simple expression of love and gratitude—a way to let people know we value the role they play in our lives and want to express it with a token of our appreciation.
So what can you do if you just love to give but it’s not in the budget this year? Here are a few tips to help you have a joyful holiday season without spending what you don’t have.
Express your love through food
When we first got married, we decided that we wouldn’t give gifts that Christmas. Our wedding was in September and spending a ton on gifts just two months later wasn’t reasonable. That decision was really hard on me, though, because I love picking out the perfect gift for all the people I love. So what did I do?
I decided I would express my love with food. I searched for recipes and made all kinds of tasty treats, which I boxed up and shared with my loved ones. Everyone happily ate their treats and was grateful I had taken the time to even do it. It was great.
Say it with a card
In today’s tech-based world, people don’t receive thoughtful cards as much as they once did. Make this the year you share how you really feel with the perfect card. It’s not expensive, and it really goes a long way when it comes to expressing how to feel about the people you love most. And I don’t mean the picture card of the kids that you send everyone. I mean take the time to get cards and write out personal notes to the people you love.
Focus on experiences
If you have children, and you can’t get them as much as you would like, focus on what you plan to do with them this holiday season. Volunteering, going to see Santa or participating in other local activities are great low cost (or sometimes no cost) ways to bond. You may also want to consider starting new family traditions. As much as kids love to get presents, they won’t remember what you give them as much as they remember the time you spend with them. Those memories will last a lifetime.
Print those pictures
If you’re anything like me, you have a ton of pictures you took this year that have never left your devices. This is a great time to print and frame a picture. Sure, using an online service to buy photo books and presents is awesome, but it can also get pricey. Print the pictures at home or at a local store and buy picture frames locally at a discount store. A great memory captured through a picture is priceless, and it’s a simple and low cost way to show that you care.
Just relax and enjoy
I promise that the people who love you most will not deliver a side-eye because you didn’t buy a present this year. Anyone who does that is shady if you ask me. Just go through the holidays the way you normally would without giving presents (offer an explanation if you feel compelled to). Spend time with family. Make your favorite treats. Watch movies and eat popcorn together. Do whatever makes you feel happy and leave the gifts out this time around. People won’t care about your gift-giving habits as much as you do, and this may become one of your happiest and stress-free holiday seasons yet.
BMWK family, what do you do when gift giving isn’t in the budget?
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