Giving the thought that counts

With Christmas just around the corner, many people are scrambling to finish their Christmas shopping.  I don’t know if it’s my new minimalist outlook on life (I somehow doubt it), but I am finding myself very much indifferent to Christmas this year.  I have no decorations up at home (definitely minimalist of me), and even when helping my friend decorate her tree or seeing my mother’s decorated home, I have no flutter of excitement about it this year.  Maybe it’s because I’ve seen roughly 0.0005 inches of snow so far, and it’s late December.  Maybe it’s because I’m not a little kid about to get a ton of presents.  I know several people who have also said they’re just not getting into it this year.  Maybe the world will end today, who knows?  (Mayan calendar joke, not really predicting the apocalypse). I’ve even tried a marathon of all the Doctor Who Christmas specials, to no avail.  Though I am now afraid of a lot of Christmas decorations.

I do have a feeling that taking my sister to see our dad tomorrow might instill some Christmas spirit into my soul, and I definitely foresee some more excitement on Monday when my family sits down to a family meal.

What I loved about my first Christmas out of college was that I had enough money to buy everyone a REALLY AWESOME GIFT.  I spent a ton of money.  Looking back, I am mildly ashamed. For instance, I bought a Rock Band set that was played once.  Once.  There’s a hundred bucks.  I also bought “us” (I was married at the time) a Wii Fit, which I did play a lot but had to leave behind when I left.  So there’s another hundred bucks.  I bought my friend some books, and I got my sister stuff I don’t even remember but at the time I thought she would like, I got gifts for aunts and uncles and cousins and looking back, I realize that I just liked shopping.  I liked the thrill, and maybe even the stress, of needing to find a gift for someone.

Most people tend to really get into the holiday stress.  It’s almost like a badge of honor to drive yourself clinically insane trying to find gifts.  Here’s a secret: No you don’t! That is a man-made stress.  You do not have to give in to the cultural frenzy of Christmas Shopping.

This year, I’m much more purposeful in my gift-giving.

My sister is getting some of my clothes and jewelry that I don’t wear (and she’s fine with this!).  She also was supposed to get a pair of leggings I bought her in Spain, but my mother put them in her room in a fit of cleaning, not realizing they were supposed to wait for Christmas, so whoops.

My mom is getting help cooking and cleaning, for one thing!  I am also currently researching area spas to get her a gift certificate for a massage.  She loves to be pampered.

My stepdad — and I can say this on the internet because he doesn’t read my blog — is getting a gift certificate to accompany a pilot on a thirty minute flight and get to fly the plane for part of the flight!  He drives a racecar as a HOBBY, so I had to find something thrilling for him.  This was perfect.  My backup gift was going to be a wine aerator because he’s super into wine and doesn’t have one.

My best friend and her family will be receiving a gift membership to their local zoo, because we go all the time and it will be great for them to be able to get in free whenever they want to visit.

In my opinion, the more experiences you can give to people in place of things, the better — all three of these things on my list are experiences.  Mom gets to go to a spa, Stepdad gets to fly a plane, and Best Friend & Kids get to go to the zoo.

The list goes on… some people do read my blog so I can’t go into other details.  But the important thing about this year, and how it should be for people every year, is that I’m going for quality over quantity.  If I put thought into a gift, and it’s really and truly something the recipient would appreciate, I’m golden.  If I put thought into something and it is a gift for a gift’s sake, I’m stopping myself.  I would rather schedule a lunch date with the person or get them a cup of coffee and catch up than give them something they won’t need or even want.

It’s just that simple.  When it’s the thought that counts, make sure it’s thought about the person and not the compulsion to give.  There’s plenty of thought about that already.

Happy Christmas!

15 thoughts on “Giving the thought that counts

  1. markadamdouglass says:

    Great post. I like that your focus has changed.

    A long time ago I cut back the people I bought for to just a selected few. But then is spoil a couple, and still blow quite a lot.

    This year, I’m spending $0.

    My gifts are my time in creating various writings for them.

    I’m unsure how it will be received, but I know it will be given with love.

    • Caitlin says:

      Last year, probably 90% of my presents were paintings I did, and I gave my partner a collection of poetry and short stories I wrote. I’m still not sure how they were received but everyone at least seemed to like them🙂 I hope your friends and family love and appreciate your writings and the effort you put into them.

  2. Nicola B says:

    I’ve been making gifts this year- mostly knitted socks with small, mostly consumable, presents inside- and I have managed to get them done without a rush, because I started early (end of August…!) I think all of the recipients will find them useful, and I have tried to pick colours etc that each person will like.

    I’m not feeling the buzz of Christmas excitement/magic either- boo!

    • Caitlin says:

      It has finally started today, as I run around like mad helping prep a company party, and it’s FINALLY snowing. I’m excited to spend the weekend at my mom’s house🙂 I hope you get the Christmas buzz soon!

  3. Drop that Debt says:

    It’s so true. I really don’t give a crap about gifts at all. I am not much in the mood, except I am a bit more now that it’s getting pretty close and I wrapped presents (I love the look of wrapped presents, very anti-minimalist of me. Next year, minimalist ideas for wrapping will need to be found) and I’m just so excited to go see my family, who I haven’t seen in two months.🙂 Merry Christmas Caitlin!!

    • Caitlin says:

      I’m at my Mom’s house, there’s a ton of snow, and there’s a tree surrounded by presents. Last night we made a grocery list for Christmas dinner and played cards. I’m really enjoying unplugging from life to just go hang out at Mom’s house! Finally feeling Christmassy.🙂 safe travels!!

  4. Rachel W. says:

    I’m excited about Christmas but it isn’t because of decorations (we don’t have any up…in fact, we may have given them all away) or the presents (though I am excited about giving a few things to the people I love…I do not thrive on stress shopping). I’m excited because my nieces will be here for the first time in three years, my sister will be here, my dad will come in from offshore on Christmas day, and one of my best friends will spending part of Christmas with my family. And of course, my mom and my daughter will be here too. It is spending time with people I love and enjoy that gets me excited.

    On the Christmases where it’s been my mom, my daughter, and I, Christmas day passed with nary a present exchanged.

  5. livingsimplyfree says:

    Well we have our snow and I’m still not into the idea of Christmas yet. Maybe once everyone is together it will be different. My oldest son and his wife have decided, with my joyful blessing, to buy only for the children, which means no wasting of their money on me. I helped them out by paying for Christmas dinner which they will make. I am giving books and art supplies to the little one’s, a few games to share. But I’m thinking of dance lessons for the oldest next year, science museum membership for the youngest and so on rather than toys at all. I spent so much time trying to find items made in USA and without plastic etc to give them healthy things it will just be easier to give them the memberships to enjoy for a year at a time.

    • Caitlin says:

      I went the “experiences” route this year too! It’s much easier than trying to find non-plastic stuff that was made domestically. That is even more stress on top of the holiday shopping stress!

      I hope it feels Christmassy for you once everyone is all together🙂

  6. Bethany@OurSoCalledLife says:

    I teach, so I’m never into the Christmas spirit until right before. The last week before break is always stressful, and it was worse this year, after Newtown. Then, our break doesn’t start until right before Christmas eve. After that, it’s all over, and I keep wishing that we would have put more into it. For us, the answer is pretty obvious. Santa isn’t coming to our house until the 27th this year, and it might not be until New Year’s next year!

    As far as gifts are concerned, I really love that we’ve moved the focus to fun and activities, rather than presents. It seems to make it more joyful for everyone involved, especially my 5-year-old daughter.

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