For many Americans, a big part of the holidays involve giving presents to others. But it’s perfectly fine and feasible to not give gifts to family and friends and still enjoy the holiday season.
In fact, if the tough economy or a job layoff has taken a toll on your household budget, this could be the year to not spend any money all on gifts. Even if you have do money in a bank account to spend, there are plenty of other ways to celebrate the season without making all the festivities centered on gift-giving.
Still, the average American is expected to spend $704 on holiday gifts in 2011, according to the National Retail Federation.
Should you opt out of this year’s holiday shopping frenzy? Here are five reasons why it might be wise not to spend any money at all on gifts this holiday season:
#1: To Build Up an Emergency Fund
You don’t have to be Scrooge to get through the season, but you can be smarter about where your extra money is going by building up those cash reserves. Save extra cash this season and find alternative ways to “give” (see below) so you have a healthy emergency fund account come New Year’s and beyond. There’s nothing wrong with taking care of your finances and prioritizing your spending – even during the holiday season.
#2: You Can Give Homemade Gifts Instead
Bake up some sweet treats, write someone you love a heartfelt letter, or use crafts and supplies that you have around the house to make some homemade gifts this holiday season. This strategy will not only help you save money but can also give you a chance to give a more meaningful gift.
#3: To Give the Gift of Time or Your Talents
Instead of spending money, you can spend time and heartfelt moments bonding with family and friends over the holidays – as opposed to worrying about what to buy for whom. Likewise, you can share your talents with the community by donating time to area nonprofit organizations. Making your way of giving a labor of love: Help out at the local food pantry, make holiday baskets at a church for local families, and find other ways to “give” without spending money.
#4: To Celebrate People, Not Things
For Christians, the Christmas holiday is first and foremost about celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. But even more broadly, for most people (Christians and non-Christians alike) the holidays are about spending time with the ones you love and being thankful for the blessings in your life.
It’s so easy to forget the real meaning of the holidays when you’re caught up with filling that giant gift list. Focus on planning budget-friendly get-togethers with family and friends (think potlucks, etc.) so you’re not spending so much time and money on the act of gift-giving.
#5: To Be More Eco-Friendly
Did you know that approximately 4 million tons of gift wrap and shopping bags make their way to the landfills each holiday season in the United States alone? Celebrate a “green” holiday season by reducing waste and excess. Even the extra boxes, plastic and packaging of holiday gifts will need to be recycled or thrown into a landfill. Consume less this season to support the planet.
For all these reasons, and more, it’s worth considering a gift-free holiday season.