Minimal Gift-Giving

12.22.2020

In a video I posted about three years ago, I explained how I don’t give gifts to my children on Christmas day. 😮😄 It’s true! Joe and I stopped giving gifts to our children and each other twenty-three years ago. I always remember the year because our twenty-three-year-old daughter was born a month before that Christmas.

Everything felt so commercialized and I had turned our holiday into an advertisement out of a catalog that Christmas morning. And rather than be happy about it, I looked around and thought, “I can’t keep doing this.” And I was only doing it because it’s what everyone else around me was doing. Peer pressure at its finest!

So I thought back to my childhood and realized I missed the simplicity of the holidays back then. My mother always made sure to make it about Our Lord and a celebration of Jesus’ birth. She baked a birthday cake, we would sing “happy birthday” to Jesus, she gifted us oranges (a Saint Nicholas reference) and then we would eat breakfast.

Yes, my parents gave us gifts but there weren’t very many (about three or four) and they weren’t the focus of the day. The focus was on Our Lord (attending Mass), our family gathering, the huge meals and having a blast with my cousins. 😁

It may not have been called a “minimalist Christmas” but that’s what we were having and now we continue that tradition. Although in a modified way. So here’s how it works…

Christmas Eve

Even though I choose not to give gifts, my children sometimes do. So Christmas Eve is the day we chose for our family gift-giving day. But no gifts are expected or required from anyone. Something I remind all of them every year so that they don’t feel pressured or guilted into buying anything. Not healthy! So it’s the day for those who choose to give Christmas gifts to go ahead and share.

Also gift-giving is one of the five love languages and is beneficial for the person who resonates with that language. The person giving the gift actually feels loved by the appreciation shown by the receiver. I only ask that if it’s a gift-giving year for them, that they try to pick out a gift that is practical. 👍🏻 And I think my few gift-givers did really well this year.

I also remind them to give a gift because they want to and not for the purpose of getting a gift in return. Very important! (My Father taught me this years ago and it’s so true.) Some years they’ve chosen to do a grab-bag and other years they pick and choose who they want to buy for. This year turned out to be a pick and choose year.

Who Pays

While working on getting us out of debt, I set up bank accounts for my five youngest children to learn about earning, spending and saving. So they all used their own money to buy these gifts. They chose who they wanted to buy for and how much they wanted to spend.

Wrapping Gifts

Another small way we keep our Christmas minimal is by repurposing our grocery store paper bags. There was a lot of wrapping going on today, even though no one bought more than one gift for some and not any for others. But we didn’t spend a penny on wrapping paper, bows or ribbons.

So everything was wrapped in grocery bags and tied together with garden twine from my workbench. Joe spent $3 on tape but that was it. I wrote the TO and FROM in marker on the top of each gift and called it a day. 😍


Are you looking to simplify your Christmas gifts or the whole day altogether? It doesn’t have to be a crazy, chaotic stressful time if you don’t want it to be. If you want a peaceful Christmas with the focus on Christ, now is a great time to start making those changes. ❤️

6 comments

  1. Kristen says:

    You have such a beautiful family. I love how you have made Christ the center of Christmas with your words and actions. I like your low pressure Christmas but I am curious to know if it has ever lead to hurt feelings because maybe someone ended up getting nothing. Your children all seem to be very thoughtful so do they work together to make sure everyone gets something or do some of your kids not care about getting gifts?

    • Your question is actually answered in my post above. 😊 But to explain further, we don’t all sit down and pass around gifts together. They’re just shared randomly throughout the day, a day focused on and filled with cooking, reading the Bible (story of Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem), music and enjoyment. ❤️

  2. Mary Di Muro says:

    For those whose love language is receiving gifts, how are hurt feelings managed if a sibling gives a gift to one sibling but not the one who needs a gift to feel loved? I’m not even suggesting that everything should be even, but couldn’t there be real feelings of rejection? Maybe not, though, since the focus is on Jesus, and Jesus is the greatest gift to us all. There! I answered my own question!

    • Yes, you did! 😁 Our children whose love language is receiving gifts (I know we have one, possibly two) can and do receive gifts from their siblings throughout the year. But they know right now, in the Advent and Christmas seasons, the focus is on Christ.

  3. Linda says:

    Such a beautiful way to celebrate.

  4. Anne Lawrie says:

    I truly appreciate this. Thank you for the continued inspiration!

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