It's that time....gift giving season is upon us.
The holidays can be overwhelming. Have you made your holiday gift list yet? How many people are on that gift list? If you haven't started to think about it yet, I urge you to put some thought into it this year.
As a child, I celebrated Christmas. It was truly amazing to believe in magic. The feeling of waking up on Christmas morning to gifts under the tree that someone by the name of Santa Claus hand delivered, is an experience that I would never want to take away from a child.
Where I think there is an opportunity to change this story is the quantity of gifts that are given under the tree. If you already have children and have been placing piles and piles of gifts under the tree already, it is quite frankly very hard to back track out of this. But if you don't yet have children, or you have an infant, I would ask you to think for a moment just *how many* gifts would make your child happy.
My husband and I have been giving my son very few gifts at Christmas, since he was born, and he is overjoyed each year with his few gifts! He has never known anything else.
Once your child grows to be a teenager, even a small number of gifts, start to become tricky. The magic of Santa Clause is no longer part of the equation so conversations surrounding what children want is more appropriate. Money and/or experiences can start to be given to children as gifts.
I know once my sisters and I were grown, my parents tried many different ideas over the holidays so that the holidays still felt festive and fun. Once we were older, the family agreed that we wanted to do something else besides sit around the tree and watch grown children open gifts from Santa Claus.
We spent many years trying different things to get around exchanging a million gifts. One year we did a type of Secret Santa, but had to give the person something that we made. One year we did experiences only. One year we simply tried no gifts at all. Finally, my older sister had children and we instituted a 'only gifts for the children' rule, and that seemed to be much easier!
Hindsight is always 20/20, and the first grandchild definitely tends to get showered with unecessary gifts. If you are worried about this happening in your family, or already have this situation happening, you may want to consider having extended family trade off years that they actually give a tangible gift to the grandchild and other years they can either pass, or contribute to the child's college fund. This all depends on how much extended family you have, but if the grandchild has two sets of grandparents, and four Aunts and Uncles (two from each side), that's already a heck of a lot of gifts!
Getting your own family on the same gift-giving page is one thing, but then once you get married, you then have to worry about your in-laws gift giving traditions, or lack-there-of. When I got married, I felt super lucky because my husband's family was really relaxed about gift giving. They didn't exchange a gazillion gifts and for the most part, they too only gave gifts for the children in their family. They have one single person who does not plan to have children, yet she has to buy gifts for all the other nieces and nephews, so is an exception and we do buy her something. So you do have to look at your own family and make appropriate modifications and exceptions as you see fit.
Something I have been struggling with in the gift giving space is that I am a proponent of less stuff and not giving, yet I work for a gift site. That is so contradictory. Can I justify this? My view may change next week, later today, or in an hour, but after some soul searching, I am comfortable with the fact that Made Lokal was started as a place to buy sustainable, eco-friendly, local items....for when you needed a gift.
That still stands today. Made Lokal still believes in buying less. But when you do buy, buy with intention. Buy local. Buy sustainable. These things can be difficult to do when you are surfing the internet or shopping in stores. We want to make it surprisingly easy. We are not looking to create a place to encourage you to shop more.
So, with that, I encourage you to start making your holiday lists today. Do you realllllly need to buy gifts for everyone on that list?! Have transparent conversations with the people in your life. See how they feel about gift giving. Are you both on the same page?
Close friends or family may enjoy time together, a drink or dinner somewhere special that you wouldn't normally go. Certain recipients are unavoidable like children and your team at work. Many gifts are probably not necessary or can be altered to be time spent doing something unique or fun together.
Also important in this process is for you, as an adult, to tell people what you do or don't want. Give it a whirl. See if you can whittle down your list.