The holidays are right around the corner, and Christmas shopping is in full swing. While you may find yourself deep into Christmas shopping, have you ever stopped to consider if you really have to give holiday gifts? In the past few years, my family decided to stop giving each other gifts. Here is why my family stopped giving Christmas gifts and what we do instead.


Why We Stopped Doing Christmas Gifts

I come from a fairly large family. There are six of us in my immediate family, and most of us are married. Once you factor in gifts for one another, spouses, and nieces and nephews, Christmas gifts quickly became expensive and tiring.

The final straw was when me and two other of my siblings moved away from our home state. If we want to come home for the holidays, it requires us to purchase a plane ticket. And if we have a spouse, it’s double the price to make it back to celebrate with family! Not to mention, the cost of boarding our pets and renting a car (since our hometown is not near an airport). If we can make it home for Christmas, it can easily cost $1,000. That’s the price of a mini vacation!

Now, with a family of 11 people, assume we each spent $50 on everyone’s gift. That’s $550 in just gifts. Add that on top of the price of travel, and it quickly became expensive.

And when you live far away, cost isn’t the only factor. You also have to consider how you will get the gifts to our family. Sure, you can try to stuff as many as you can in your suitcase. But that isn’t realistic. Of course, you could always ship gifts, but then you have to worry about wrapping gifts when you get there, or just not wrap them at all. It just added a lot of stress to us as a family!

Finally, my family realized the end of the year is busy for all of us. We are all busy at work, planning to travel, and trying to plan for the next year. Buying Christmas gifts just added to the stress, when really, all we wanted was to spend time with one another.


Alternatives to Christmas Gifts

In lieu of Christmas gifts, my family puts that money aside and takes a family vacation together once a year. It’s a great way to experience something new with all of us and form less-rushed memories together!

And while we don’t do holiday gifts, we did decide to prioritize birthday gifts instead. That way, we can truly celebrate one person on their special day versus buying gifts for everyone at once. And even then, most of our gifts are for experiences, such as classic car rentals, gift cards to a fancy restaurant, or tickets to a play.

If you haven’t considered alternatives to Christmas gifts, I highly recommend it. For us, the absence of gifts makes our holidays more focused on what’s truly important – spending time together as a family and celebrating together.