Okay, is everybody finally recovered from last Christmas? Great! While we’re a safe distance away from the holiday shopping season, let’s discuss how to preempt our holiday stress by eliminating unnecessary gift exchanges!
My brother and I called a “cease-fire” on holiday gift exchanges several years back. For the longest time, he’d get me some sort of game or trinket as a Christmas gift, and I’d get him a watch. Yes, a watch – he had a habit of losing, breaking, or otherwise rendering his watch useless over the course of the year, and every Christmas I’d get him a new one. It worked out well.
Realistically however, that only works if he keeps destroying watches. And I wind up (over time) accumulating a number of trinkets that, while (usually) thoughtfully selected, I really don’t have a use for.
We just decided a few years back to stop giving each other Christmas gifts. It hasn’t changed our relationship, and we still help each other with miscellaneous things throughout the year – we just don’t stress about Christmas. We still each get gifts for our parents, and it works out well.
The point is that, when he turned 18, we just fell into the “brothers get each other Christmas gifts” routine without really questioning it. Upon questioning it, we discovered that it wasn’t necessary for us. The same is true of the gift exchange with our extended family. I’ve opted out for the past 20+ years, because the extended family isn’t close enough to really know each other. Upon realizing that the exchange had devolved to swapping $20 gift cards with each other, I opted out.
At the point where the gifts become more about the obligation than the joy and fun of selecting something you know your friend/relative/co-worker will love, I think it’s time to stop the bus and get off.
What about you? Are there some gift exchanges that would be better avoided – for the sake of both your clutter and your sanity – this year? Now is the time to take action!