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Five Ways To Rethink Christmas Gifts—Without Being A Scrooge!

Let’s admit it—all of us love to get and give gifts.  Just the idea of unwrapping a brightly adorned present stimulates the possibility of finding our dreams fulfilled.  Giving can be equally rewarding—with a sweet anticipation of connection and recognized love and appreciation from the receiver.  Unfortunately, much of the time the gifts we are given fall far short of our expected dreams.

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  At the same time, those we lavish gifts upon, often seem less than appreciative and oblivious to our hoped-for connections.  But when you think about it, maybe the fault isn’t in the desire to give and receive.   Instead, chances are it’s our routine and unconscious expectations of the season—and/or the less-than-altruistic manipulations of retailers.    That’s why it might be time to start rethinking all gift-giving in a brand new SMART way—and start enjoying Christmas even more.

Thom and I first started rethinking gift giving about 15 years ago.  I can still remember what triggered the desire.   I had rushed around like most of us do in the last few weeks of the holiday, attempting to buy what I thought my nephews, sisters and parents would appreciate and enjoy—and still stay within our budget.  We didn’t have lots of excess money and we were making an effort to not spend more than we had.  When we arrived at my sister’s with toys for her children, the living room was stacked with presents from floor to ceiling.  Instantly our modest additions were quickly absorbed into the piles.   Then once the gift opening occurred, the mad scrabble resembled what I can only imagine to be like Wal-Mart at opening time on Black Friday.  Paper was everywhere, presents were trampled in the rush, and we might as well have been invisible.  While we did receive perfunctory “thank you’s” from the children and the adults—I don’t think anyone really knew who had given who what.   But that wasn’t all, not only did those receiving gifts from us act less than enthusiastic—the gifts we received in return were merely “interesting.”  (Interesting is a word you use when you don’t want to put something down but it isn’t that great.)  That Christmas was the turning point.

Continue reading this post on Kathy Gottberg’s blog, Smart Living 365 

Kathy Gottberg

Kathy Gottberg has been writing on all sorts of topics for over 25 years with three published books and hundreds of articles. But her passion today is exploring ideas and experiences that help to create a meaningful, sustainable, compassionate and rewarding life for herself and others. Beyond that, she lives with Thom, her best friend and soul mate of 36 years, along with their fur-baby Kloe in La Quinta, CA. Instagram: gottgreen

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Phoebe Wulliman Graber

Friday 13th of December 2013

Thanks for the nudge! Over the years, I've been drawn to this very idea especially for Christmas! Do you follow the "no gifts" (other than experiences, etc.) rule with your immediate family as well?? I think my husband and I need to revisit this!

Kathy Gottberg

Saturday 14th of December 2013

Hi Phoebe! You're so welcome...and trust me is it so worth it. And yes I do the "no gift" rule with all my family. Some aren't too crazy about it though....most of them are very traditional and sometimes they STILL (after 10 years or so!) give us gifts....but you have to resist giving anything back out of habit. If I do get a gift from someone I just thank them and then remind them that we "do it differently" and then either plan an experience time with them or arrange for a "donation" gift...or never forget if there is something that you regift or make for them that works too. The idea is to remove the expectation of what we used to do....the hardest one is actually my husband. (It's harder for me anyway!) And if we had kids I know that would be challenging. We've tried it with absolutely no gifts whatsoever with the two of us. But I found that I like to look forward to one special gift on Christmas Day. So I usually buy one "treat" for my fur-baby Kloe and one gift for Thom and that is MY present. Watching them open one is all I need....and then we usually have a special breakfast. So I still have a celebration but it's a lot more low key than we used to do. So try something different and just see how it feels...and I would LOVE to hear what worked for you and how you felt about it.~Kathy

Anne Parris

Thursday 12th of December 2013

I think about this a lot. Saying no to things that just aren't really important so I can say yes to the things that really matter is such a life saver.

Kathy Gottberg

Thursday 12th of December 2013

Hi Anne....Good for you for thinking it through. I know it is so easy this time of year to get busy and go on "automatic" so I think awareness and thoughtfulness is particularly important. The more we do as you say, "say yes to the things that really matter," the better. Not only will you serve as an example to those around you, have much less stress, appreciate the little things rather than expecting BIG things, and last but not least--you'll probably save money too! I don't know about you but I think all those things can lead to a happier holiday. ~Kathy

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