The Gift of Not Giving


The gift of not giving sounds a bit odd, right? This comes up every year, so I’ll tackle it again for people who are still baffled. Or maybe you’re new here…

We don’t buy our kids any Christmas presents, and that’s OK.

A few things to clarify quickly before you unfollow:
🤶 We love being festive, this is not a cult or anti-Christmas thing.

🤶 Father Christmas still brings them a few bits to fill a small stockinig. Only if they write to him of course…

🤶 As the only grandchildren on both sides, they get lots of presents from family and also from friends etc.

🤶 Each year we ask them and they choose this option every time. Every. Single. Time.

So, how did this crazy thing start? You may have known me in my former guise as The Frugal Family… When I decided not to go back to a well paid job our budget was sliced in a painful half.

Being Sustainable

It was part of becoming more conscious of what we spent, as well as more sustainable in our general living. That first Christmas I looked at the pot of savings we had worked hard to create and was a bit depressed at turning it into plastic tat and ‘more stuff’. With very young kids you quickly get one of everything, so by kid no. 3 and 4 – the house was full of farms, cars, building bricks, dinosaurs, dolls, etc. etc.

We sat the kids down and told them what we had saved to spend at Christmas. Then we asked if they wanted toys from a wish list, or to do something else. We discussed Merlin Passes, memberships of various things. Suddenly, our daughter asked if it was enough money for a holiday.

It was.

We booked five days in a little cottage from 28th Dec. It was only an hours drive away, in case of bad weather. We used our National Trust membership to have lovely walks and adventures, with a hot chocolate and a cake to warm up afterwards. We played board games and stayed up late to watch films.

A one off?

Each year since, we’ve done the same. This year, in a small change, the kids have asked to move the week away to February half term, so they can be home to see friends over New Year. They didn’t want to change it for presents, not a flicker of doubt from any of them.

When sorting out Issac’s toys after he died, I can genuinely say I never once wished there was more to re-home, gift or share. I can say that every photo and memory from the few Christmas holidays we had are worth far more than we paid.

This year, given how tough times are for people, I’ve taken the gift of not giving a bit further and suggested to friends that we don’t exchange presents. Instead we are meeting up for a day out, a walk or a breakfast treat. Sometimes when we buy gifts, we actually give stress, an expectation of a gift in return (you may not want one, but most people will feel like they need to reciprocate anyway).

Is the gift of not giving for you?

Gifts and presents are great, but they should be thoughtful, meaningful. If you’ve reached the point where you all swap gift vouchers or wine around, maybe it’s time to talk about that? Perhaps this year you can give the gift of not giving a traditional wrapped present?