How I'm Dealing With Gifts This Holiday Season

AKA a minimalist gift guide: pandemic edition

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I know don’t know how Christmas is in 2ish weeks, since it’s very much still March 2020, but here we are.

If you’ve been a reader for a while, you’ll know that I’m not much of a gift giver. My household does not exchange gifts and we try to only buy one gift per couple or family in a normal year. The only exception is buying gifts for our younger nephews, who still very much enjoy the gift giving experience.

As we inch closer to one of the biggest holidays in the calendar year, we’re all making hard decisions about who we will see over the holidays, who we won’t and how we will get gifts to each group.

Given the financial stresses this year has placed on a lot of people, I’m going to go ahead and give you permission to not buy any gifts this year if it is going to put you in a financial situation you don’t want to be in (or you just don’t want to buy gifts, because that’s also fair).

This year, because of the health of my brother, we’re just not doing Christmas. My brother didn’t want to be involved in any indoor gatherings (and rightly so - he has no immune system anymore). Plus, my grandma straight up cancelled having Christmas at her house this year because it’s not safe (I am so proud of her for making this choice). What this means is that 50% of my gift giving responsibilities have completely evaporated.

What about the other 50%? Well, the darnedest thing happened. My sister-in-law told that side of the family that she didn’t want to buy gifts this year. So, we aren’t. We went in on one gift for our nephews because we won’t be seeing them because of COVID and we wanted them to have something to look forward to on Christmas morning.

If you’ve been tempted in the past to reduce your gift giving to family members, this year might be the best time to test it out (since you probably won’t be seeing as much family as you normally would).

I didn’t realize until this year how central gift-giving is to the ‘visiting family for Christmas’ experience. With the visiting part removed because of the pandemic, the gift-giving part naturally diminishes (for me anyway).

That’s not to say you shouldn’t buy gifts if you want to. But, this year might give you an out if you just can’t be bothered this year.

IF you do want to still buy gifts for family this year, and it’s within your capacity to do so, consider supporting as many local businesses in your area are you can. There’s has never been a more important time to spend your dollars in your community.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

1) for the foodie

  • a gift certificate to their favourite local restaurant

  • a custom charcuterie board from a local deli

2) for the book lover

  • get a hold of their reading wish list and ask your local bookstore to order you a bunch (if you don’t have a local bookstore, try ordering from - they are even offering digital giftcards right now)

3) for the cinephile

  • contact your local cinema or theatre and find out if they are doing any virtual screenings or private experiences

4) for the art connoisseur

  • do some internet sleuthing and find out if any local artists are selling paint kits (or similar DIY kit)

  • even if they aren’t, consider buying a piece of their work

5) the fitness buff

  • find out of their local gym or studio is offering virtual classes and pay for a few sessions

If you don’t even know what small business exist in your area, or your family’s area, here how to find out:

  • search online for ‘your city/town’ + local businesses, chamber of commerce, business improvement area, local restaurant/coffee shop/bookstore, etc.

However you choose to deal with gifts this year, try not to put too much pressure on yourself. Since pretty much this entire year has been a nightmare, the impulse to have ‘The Perfect Holiday’ might be quite strong. If, on the other hand, you’re like me, this holiday season of low expectations and few social gatherings might be exactly what you need right now.

Until next time, keep living that tiny life.

How are you approaching the holidays this year?

Image credit: Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash