When my husband and I got married, we decided that gift giving on holidays was too stressful and ultimately a waste of money. We decided it was important to spend time with family and that the best present to give is a meal from the heart. We have been doing without presents now for 8-yrs and I don’t miss them. The holidays have gone by pleasantly without stress about what to buy or even having to go to the mall. We have nice family meals and gather around the Wii for the holidays. It’s brought the holidays back to the family and away from Santa and presents. It was one of the best decisions we ever made.
Of course, I don’t know if such a stategy would work if we had children since presents for them is all about status. I certainly would not want to raise children with those kind of values, but it’s hard to control when status is important to their friends and the parents of their friends. I don’t remember any of the presents I recieved as a child except for a Snoopy Snowcone maker, an Easy Bake oven, a couple of bikes. These were not status gifts, though. These we more like rites of childhood and toys that I really enjoyed mostly because they were toys that engaged my parents too. I guess in this sense, they were good presents and when I become a parent, I should use those memories as a guiding principle when selecting gifts.
Anyhow, happy holidays to everyone out there. I know for some families it’s going to be tough this year because the money isn’t there for lots of gifts. I would encourage you to return to family and to concentrate on having wonderful family meals and choosing a few gifts that engage the entire family like bikes, board and video games, and books. It can also be nice to take the family out the movies during the break times. Oh, and take lots of pictures :). Those are definitely the gifts that keep on giving :). Happy holidays everyone!