Wouldn’t to be nice to focus more on family and friends, on gathering and spending time together during the holidays, than to spend your time running around buying, wrapping and delivering a boatload of presents? A growing number of Americans are doing just that. Some want to focus on the underlying meaning of the holidays, some want to save money and move away from consumerism, and some just want to make their holiday experiences less stressful and more personally rewarding.There are many online resources and ideas to help you move towards a gift-less holiday season (google “no gift holidays”).

Here are a few tips to help un-gift your holidays:

  • Make deals this year with adult family and friends that in the future no gifts will be exchanged. Children, obviously, can be exceptions to these rules–otherwise you will hear the (valid) argument that “you got gifts when you were little, why can’t I ?”
  • Instead of exchanging gifts, plan activities together, such as:

-Plan a big meal together. You can gather and cook together, potluck it or just make a reservation and go out as a large group. The point is spending time together.

-Have a storytelling session, where everyone recounts a favorite family or friend story. Include folks by Skype if they can’t be there!

-Do some crafts together, especially if someone in the group has a special skill they could share.

-Take a nice long walk together, around the neighborhood or at a nearby park or greenway.

-Plan a trip together. It can be as simple as a drive to check out holiday lights to gathering and exploring a new city together.

-Do community service together.

Obviously, the key is “together”–the time you spend together is your holiday gift to yourself and each other.

If you still feel the need to have some type of holiday gift giving, consider:

  • Drawing names–the traditional way to cut down on holiday gifting. Each person buys only one gift, for the person whose name they drew.
  • A re-gifting/recycle swap, where everyone brings an unwanted or gently used gift they no longer want or need to swap.
  • A wacky tacky gift exchange, where each person brings the funniest, nuttiest gift they can find to exchange (it’s fun keeping an eye out all year for these).
  • A special objects gift giving–why wait to give away that beloved baseball glove or vintage camera? Give it to the next generation now, so they can hear its special story straight from the giver.

Happy Holidays!