Would you be willing to change your Christmas gift-giving practices if it meant disappointing your kids for one year?
My wife read something a while back about a family who does Christmas gifts a little differently that I thought was really a good idea. Before I tell you what it is, here is some of the upside:
- It eliminates a large portion of the materialism we’ve come to see as commonplace in our society. (Black Friday, anyone?)
- It’s guaranteed to bring a family tighter knit. (Family? What’s that?)
- It saves a lot of money. (Ok, even I can’t be sarcastic about saving money…)
It sounds good, doesn’t it?
Here’s the catch – you don’t put 10, 20, or 30 gifts under the tree for everyone. You don’t even put five.
The concept was easy. When you or your kids make the Christmas list, it includes only four things:
- Something you want
- Something you need
- Something to wear
- Something to read
I’m going to be honest. Christmas is my all-time favorite holiday. I love everything about the time of year, the decorations, the music, movies… granted, I am not a religious person, so that part escapes me, but I do respect the family, the love, the sharing… everything. And I LOVE presents. Sorry, but I do.
Despite this love of all things presents, when my wife and I discussed the idea of just the four things, I thought it was awesome. Take away all the pressure and holiday shopping/spending stress, then fill it back in with activities, spending quality time, and relaxing with the people most important to me? Hell yes! Where do I sign up?
The problem was the little one. Yeah, she’s 10 (almost 11) and old enough to grasp the concept, but her initial reaction was not so positive. She’s been used to how we “DO” Christmas. It’s a big deal. I’m sure removing a big portion of it out is a little jolting to the system.
After my wife explained the reasons for us wanting to re-establish a family-first, “money” second mentality, it sunk in, becoming more easily digested. She was even on board with it—for her first list. My wife was moved by the fact that she played along so well with it that she ended up deciding to buy the primary list and the backups for each category. (Because you have to have a backup plan, right?)
Of course, her list did the standard, “constantly-in-flux-thanks-for-the-slew-of-you-need-this-holiday-commercials” thing. And, yes, after all was said and done, we scrapped the new list. We did scale back this year, though—even beyond me being absent. Maybe next year we’ll revisit it. I know it would sure be nice—even if I don’t get a bunch of presents.
What do you think? Could you do something like this? Why or why not?