Naughty or Nice.

Not really. Mostly naughty or nice hasn’t got anything to do with it.

This is a long one folks which I try to avoid where possible but we don’t have the luxury of time to break it into smaller chunks this year with Christmas nipping at our heels. So…

4 weeks and counting down. I hope you’ve finished your shoppin barring the fresh food, but if not… lets talk. To present or not to present? That is the question. I am going to encourage less. Less presents. Less money spent. Less food. Less. Period There you have it “A vague disclaimer is nobodies friend” if this isn’t what you want to hear.. click away now. I’ll love you just the same.

I love Christmas. I love it for the time I get to spend with my people, neighbours, volunteer groups. Down time, drinks, food, outings, slow quality time spent with each other laughing, catching up, planning…enjoying each others company and time off work. For the rest of it though. I think Christmas is a commercialised feeding frenzy. Ridiculous in the extreme, our wallets haemorrhaging money in every direction. Encouraged by every retailer,  product producer, interest group and credit provider in the land. That’s not what we are here to talk about though. We’re here to talk time, ease, money, peace and meaningful connection. I want you to take a look at your present list like we did for the cards list  here.  If you missed that one read that first and come back.  If you are buying just for your nearest and dearest already. Well done. Go enjoy your Christmas we’ll see you next year. If not, is there any you can eliminate. Really look at the why of each person.

Everyone is different but some common ones seem to be extended family, service providers, work colleagues, teachers, friends old and new far and wide, friends children, people that buy you presents and so you return the “favour”, people who are coming to your home for Christmas, neighbours etc  It can really get out of hand but even if you consider your list reasonable have a look anyway. The exercise won’t hurt and will either just confirm how sorted and solid your list is or bring you further time, money and effort savings. Also good.  Eliminate any straight away that are just old habits -people who you send things to but haven’t heard from in years and/or aren’t doing the same with you. Too easy. Gone.

From here in a few hard conversations and a bit of honesty will make this so much smoother and easier. Lets start with work colleagues. Secret Santa is the devil! you all know it and how much nonsense have you gotten over the years. See if your colleagues are on board to ditch this -time, money, earths resources whatever your reasons. if they don’t want to stop altogether perhaps they’d be into buying a group gift for eg everyone throws in a few dollars only and buys an office plant, or coffee maker, sandwich press or a lunch. you get the idea. Something useful or wanted for the team. No muss, no fuss. No individual presents. No cheap nasty candles, scented anything or gag gifts. If you have some close friends from work.. by all means buy a present and give it to them privately. Even this though, why not have the conversation. Why not just spend some time together outside of work. So many people want to reduce the clutter and gifts and time and money of this time of year but aren’t sure how to bring that up. For every gift we give or receive often creates that feeling of having to give in return, your good intentions may be creating a burden for them. Financially or otherwise.  Why not be the brave one to ask the questions. You may be surprised at how many Yes’s you get to stopping or to changing the status quo around this. I know I was surprised how often it was embraced and how easily in many cases when we started doing this.

Extended family. Here are some great alternatives to the everyone gets a present option. If you have more though. Let us all know.

  1. You all agree to stop giving to extended family. Just your own partner and children. Maybe one for Nan and Pop.
  2. The Children only option. No adults. Age cut off of 16, 18 or 21. Your call. Because we are adults and can buy what we want ourselves or our partners can.
  3. The family present. One family. One present. Here’s where movie tickets. Zoo passes or Gift vouchers to favourite stores are fantastic.
  4.  The hat draw. Each family member gets one other family member. Set a $ limit so it’s fair for all. If you’re a family of 5 you’ll get 5 presents. Buy five presents. If your the single bachelor / bachelorette same thing. Buy 1 get 1. If you all want to throw in and get the grandparents something bigger because it doesn’t feel right for you not getting your mum and dad something because you didn’t draw there names – go for it. Maybe a gift from the whole family for them.
  5. Friends /close acquaintances children or your children if that applies. Is it really needed? Honestly?!

Honestly most of the people I’ve ever talked to are fine with getting  less stuff both for them and their children. Truly, have the conversations. You may be surprised. For those who can’t bring themselves to do this. Perhaps a first step for you and or family is reducing the amount spent so at least the cost is not quite so large. If any of this is increasing your credit card debts or overdrafts it is absolute insanity to not have these conversations and cut costs. Don’t make your future harder and less secure next year for one day of festivities this year. Moving on …

Service providers and or Teachers etc. Only you can make the call here on whether this is really warranted. Here’s a couple of thoughts though. The don’t need any junky cheap presents or bath salts anymore than you do. Enough stuff already. If you are going to go the expense, give them something that will actually be of use to them, think gratuities, gift cards, grocery / bottle shop vouchers. Vouchers to local coffee shops or eateries. If you can keep it locally owned and provided even better and of course you can always ask.. “Hey little Joey’s teacher {insert teachers name}. We’d love to say thank you for the time and efforts you’ve taken this year with a small gift. Our family is giving gift cards this year so everyone can choose what they’d actually like and use is there a particular place you’d like one for?” Home baked goods.. also a winner. Cheap and reasonably easy if you have the know how and time and want to extend the gift and thought but at a more controllable cost.

Remembering the ultimate aim is to eliminate where we can. The alternatives are just for where that may not be possible. Also. There is nearly always an aunt, uncle, family member or friend of some description who is just hell bent on keeping everything as it’s always been. make them the exception to the rule. For everyone that is on board .. stop the presents or reduce DO NOT avoid changing where you can because of a few or even many people. Eliminate everyone who is happy to do so and let them eliminate you. It does make a difference and you will nearly always find more people come on board every year as others realise you’re serious and see the benefits. Also they may feel a wee bit silly insisting on presents when so many others don’t require them.  No presents does not equal naughty. Presents do not equal nice nor do they equal love and the good news is there’s tonnes of ways to show that.

Keep your Christmas present list as tight as possible. Once you’ve gone through it this year and eliminated and reduced where you can… stick that list in your home manual. With keeping these lists in the home manual of course our aim is time efficiency and simplicity. Making things easier, cheaper, simply or less time consuming with every step we can. This way you will have a starting point next year and the process will be more streamlined and less time intensive. If you are not able to do this this year because it’s too late and you or others have the presents. Keep your list from this year anyway and put it in the binder for next year if there is some you can still eliminate or reduce make the effort it will be worth it.

I would love to hear any ideas or successes you’ve had with this or ideas you’re trying out in the comments below. Good luck with eliminating and reducing.

E x

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