Minimizing Material Gifts this Time of Year


I came across this article on the Washington Post as I was, you guessed it, online shopping!  It is the holidays after all and the spirit of giving is upon us. With that said, it seems no one in my family actually needs anything.  It is just me or does Christmas, Hanukah, Chanukah, Solstice, whatever you celebrate, start to feel a little too material?  Don’t worry, this isn’t a blog about the Reason for the Season, it is instead focused on how to focus on the spirit of giving instead of the gift.

I highly recommend you read the article above, but if you don’t have time (who does?), here is a summary. The article suggests that you give four gifts: something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. I’ve actually stuck to this before and it goes over incredibly well. Sometimes a gift covers more than one category. I bought my niece boots she wanted and covered the wear and want with a little extra money towards the boots.

The other suggestions from the article include giving the gift of experience, giving the gift of giving, and giving the gift of activity. These ideas include going to places as a family, picking a charity to give to or help out at, and giving gifts that require doing, such as art, building, or assembly.

Here are some ideas I would add to the list:

Give the Gift of Time –  This can come in many forms. A day date with you and your loved one. A “mental health day” for kids to take off school and spend a dedicated day with mom and dad. My nephews personal favorite “yes day.” We try and say yes the entire day (yep, that means no “nos”) within reason of course.

Give the Gift of Tradition – What favorite movie can you start watching every year? Maybe you start going to a tree lighting, or the monuments, or singing carols at a nursing home. You could wear matching pajamas on the solstice or buy funny slippers on December 1st. Decorate gingerbread houses Christmas morning. Some of these things sound hokey, and you might be dragging your kids when they’re teenagers, but I promise they will remember them for a lifetime.

Give the Gift of Culture – Celebrate “Cultures Around the World.” Look up how different cultures celebrate the holidays. Can you incorporate anything into your household? Do you know anyone who carries on a different tradition you could participate in?

Gift the Gift of Gratitude – Last year I started an Advent Calendar for my dog. Yep, because the little presents for kids weren’t enough, I added a treat for the dog. I also started a reverse advent calendar for the adults (but the kids wanted to join too). Every day, we wrote down what we were thankful for. If you have to do it for a whole month, you start to be thankful for smaller details.

Gift a Scavenger Hunt – If you’re feeling weird about less gifts under your tree, wrap clues up in boxes and label the boxes with numbers. This will still give the excitement of ripping open packages, and is a fun way to slow down and enjoy the more important things.


No matter how you celebrate or don’t celebrate the holidays.  Everyone here at Georgetown Hill is wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy season!