Why I Don’t Give Gifts Anymore

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My birthday is coming up in about a week. This may make my spouse sound like a Scrooge, but I won’t be getting any gifts this year. We’ve decided that exchanging gifts puts too much pressure on holidays that should just be about enjoying each other’s company. 

I don’t really exchange gifts with family or friends either. In fact, I buy presents so infrequently that I don’t even have a line item in my budget for gifts. Here’s a closer look at the reasons why I don’t give gifts to family and friends anymore.

To Save Money 

Americans spend a lot of money on gifts, especially around Christmastime. This year, the average American plans to spend about $997 on Christmas presents. That’s $112 more than people spent on Christmas gifts in 2018, which is a pretty big increase. 

And that’s without factoring in all the money people spend on Valentine’s Day and anniversary gifts, birthday presents for friends and family, and Easter goodies for the kids. That could easily bring the total cost of giving gifts up to $1,500 or $2,000 per year. 

I love my spouse, friends, and family dearly. But I don’t think spending the equivalent of half a year’s worth of groceries on presents is the best way to show them how much I care. I think cooking my spouse a birthday meal or sending my mom a hand-written Christmas card is much more meaningful than buying them something mass-produced. 

Doing acts of service for each other around the holidays instead of giving gifts enables us to meet our financial goals faster. My parents, older sister, and I are all trying to get out of debt. The $2,000 per year we save on presents gets put toward our loans so we can become debt-free sooner. 

It’s Impossible to Find the Perfect Present 

Trying to find the perfect gift for family and friends can also be very stressful, especially if they have different interests than you. My spouse loves to fish, but I don’t know the first thing about fishing equipment. I usually ended up buying all the wrong gear, which had to be returned or exchanged after Christmas. My partner also struggled with gift giving and would buy me random items like ramekins that I never found a use for.

We repeated this stressful tradition of wasting time and money trying and failing to find each other the perfect gifts for several years. Then we finally realized that there was no reason we had to buy each other gifts for every holiday. We didn’t enjoy gift giving and were only doing it out of a sense of obligation due to societal expectations. We’d rather go out to dinner or cook a nice meal together to celebrate holidays instead of buying each other unnecessary stuff that will just get returned or collect dust.  

So that’s exactly what we decided to do, and it’s been working great for us so far. With the money we save on gifts, we’re able to splurge on a nice dinner out or buy some fancy ingredients at the grocery store to cook with at home. Sometimes we even go to a Christmas concert or play to celebrate the holidays. As a result, we get to spend more quality time together during special occasions, which is much more valuable than any present.

Do you give presents to friends and family? Why or why not? Share your thoughts on gift giving in the comments section below!

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