Friday, November 30, 2018

How to Disrupt the Holiday Gift Giving Cycle

Over the past few years, I've been trying to live a more simple life with fewer possessions. For the most part, this has worked really well. I've decluttered a lot and stopped the flow of products coming into my home. I've implemented a lot of pattern interrupts, and I've been feeling good about the changes. With the holiday season upon us, I've been thinking a lot about the gift giving cycle. What we give, how gifts make us feel, and why gifts seem so integral at this time of year. I've started making little adjustments in the gift giving cycles that I'm personally involved with, so I wanted to make this video in case any of you feel similarly. I haven't moved completely away from giving gifts, but I try to adopt a more minimalist mindset when it comes to selecting gifts. I've also tried to replace some gift giving with cards and/or celebrations instead. The result has been more quality time with loved ones and less pressure/stress associated with shopping.

If you're like me and you want to somehow disrupt a gift giving cycle that you're currently a part of, I've included four strategies that you can utilize today to start nudging behaviour in a new direction.

Strategy 1: start having conversations about gift giving

This is about being honest with yourself and your loved ones. Since I started decluttering, I stopped wanting stuff. I don't put as much value on gifts as I used to, so I really don't want my loved ones to spend a lot of time, effort, and money to pick out a gift for me, when what I really want is for us to spend time together. As a result, I've started having conversations with family members and friends to let them know that I prefer not to receive gifts.

If you're not in the same situation as me, but there's something about a current gift giving cycle that doesn't sit well with you, I recommend having a conversation as soon as possible in order to start opening up the dialogue.

Strategy 2: give and receive with a minimalist mindset

To me, minimalist gift giving has a couple of key characteristics:

- The gift shouldn't create clutter or burden for the recipient. Since I started decluttering, I've been liking giving and receiving perishables as gifts. Not just any perishables though--the perishables should be something that the recipient will use up rather quickly.

- Most minimalists are very intentional about the the products they bring into the household and they like to pick out their own stuff. I give a lot of gift cards and cash for this reason. These gifts have a bit of a reputation for being impersonal, but they allow for flexibility and choice--which are key attributes that all recipients appreciate.

Another approach could be to start giving gifts at times of the year that do not correspond to a holiday or occasion. I love giving small, unexpected, and zero-obligation gifts that are not tied to a holiday or occasion. It's thoughtful and does not create a burden on the recipient to reciprocate.

Strategy 3: exchange holiday cards instead of gifts

This strategy is pretty self explanatory, but it was a pretty big AHA moment when hubby and I implemented it this year for our 9th wedding anniversary. If you've followed my YouTube channel over the years, you will have seen that hubby and I tend to buy each other a lot of gifts for special occasions. It was really eye opening last year when we did the Love Languages quiz and found that "receiving gifts" ranked very low for both of us. We've tweaked our gift giving traditions over the years, but gifts were pretty much a constant. We've been following the traditional annual gifts for wedding anniversaries since the beginning (1st year was paper, 9th was willow). Instead of buying each other a willow gift this year, we made each other cards somehow incorporating the concept of willow. Hubby did so well with his card--it was hilarious! To me, this was much more gratifying than exchanging gifts.

Strategy 4: celebrate together without exchanging gifts

My friend and I have a tradition where we get together to during one of the busiest shopping days of the holiday season and buy each other gifts. One of us picks the theme for the year and then we have around 1-2 hours to shop, wrap the gift, write the card, and get back to the meeting spot. We then go for dinner and open the gifts. This is a really fun tradition, but I wanted to try something different. Since it was my turn to come up with the theme, I approached my friend and asked her how she would feel about trying something new. I proposed my idea and she agreed! Our holiday event this year won't involve gifts, but we will celebrating together over good food and good conversation. What could be better?

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