It’s easy to get caught up in the spirit of gift giving this time of year. Gifts for your family. Gifts for your friends. Gifts for yourself.
I’ll start by acknowledging that, yes, there are many gifts that are not just more stuff, including handmade art, food, and the gift of time together. However, our 13-year-old recently reminded me why retailers call the day after Thanksgiving Black Friday: they look forward to all the consumption that moves their accounts from red to black.
I am not immune. Christmas gift-giving has always been big in my family and it’s a tradition that I’ve enjoyed sharing with our own children.
As they are now teenagers, it has been easier to shift to fewer gifts and more spending time spent together: learning new games, cooking crazy-complicated holiday treats, skate skiing, even playing on the trampolines together at Woodward.
Here are 3 techniques that I use to resist buying stuff for our family that I’ll regret later:
1 Don’t try to “balance” the gift-giving. As the parents of TWO children, we have often gone down the rabbit hole of trying to be fair in our gift-giving. This is futile and becomes an arms race of gift-buying. For us, this year is no exception… one child will end up with one really nice (hand-me-down) electronic device, while the other child will receive several lower-cost art supplies that she specifically requested. That being said, it’s not a given that one kid will be happier or more thrilled come Christmas morning, so don’t bother “balancing” and let them learn to enjoy regardless.
2 Remember all the effort you have put in to getting rid of stuff! If you’ve put any energy into decluttering, simplifying, or tidying throughout the year, then it can be very effective to call on this experience when it comes to purchasing. I ask myself, “where will this item be in 6 months?” Or perhaps you like the KonMari approach, “Will this purchase still spark joy 6 months from now?” As I am currently sifting through a huge pile of backpacking & camping gear (more on that in the future,) this decluttering effort is fresh in my mind.
3 Give yourself a cooling off period. If you are feeling tempted to buy yourself some holiday gifts, try to hold off until the new year. This is a particular challenge for me. I am lured by all the deals and use the holidays as an excuse to treat myself to stuff that I may or may not need or use. It helps me to remember that retailers are often even more desperate come January, so if you can give yourself some more time to reflect and wait, you will likely get a deal just as good. Or, you might realize by then that you prefer to live without that extra thing.
I hope some of these techniques help you in the journey to live more with less stuff!
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