The Best Gift You Could Give Your Family? Nothing.

You might think that someone who goes “gift-free” at Christmas might have fallen on hard times. Or you might think this person might simply be a scrooge who has forgotten about the spirit of Christmas. But Heather Greenwood Davis, a Toronto, Canada writer and mom and her family are neither. Together with her husband and two children, she decided to skip the presents in favor of getting back to family—for the second year.

She claims that after a year of traveling around the world with only one bag each, her family realized how few things they actually needed. Changed by the experience they chose to bring that mindset back to their home life in Canada.

The family is still decorating a tree, baking cookies, going bowling, spending time snuggling, hosting dinner, and spending lots of quality holiday time together. They’re just not buying gifts for each other or others on their former Christmas lists. Heather Greenwood Davis explains that they are choosing to live on less, spending more time together, and opting to be “present-free and presence-heavy.”

She adds, “I wasn’t in the mall fighting over a sweater that the person I was buying it for would likely have to be in line for a few weeks later to exchange. I wasn’t pulling my hair out over whether I’d spent too much or too little. And in January when there were no huge bills that still needed to be paid.”

Some people thought she and her family were nuts. “For some reason our family’s decision to opt out of something was seen as an insult or affront to the way they were choosing to celebrate the season.”

Others admired the decision. But she and her family didn’t do it for the praise or the confrontation.  They wanted the time they could regain to spend together.

There are many ways to give the gift of love at Christmas … and they don’t have to come in wrapped packages with big price tags (and the debt to match).

What do you think?  Would you consider going “present-free and presence-heavy”?  What are your favorite ways to give the gift of love without spending a cent?

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Valentina R.
Valentina R2 years ago

Cook food for them & spend a lot of time together.

Christine Jones
Christine J2 years ago

Time is far more precious these days than gifts.

Barry Cohen
Barry Cohen3 years ago

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Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

I don't buy gifts, I make them :) my son loves crafting for everyone

Michael A.
Michael A4 years ago


Donna Ferguson
Donna F4 years ago

ty! good info!

Yuliya Dalbunova
Yuliya Dalbunova4 years ago

Very good point about non-gift giving:) More people should try it over the excessive money spending on many items that are not really necessary for them or their loved ones!

Angela l.
Angela L4 years ago

These days, Christmas is for children who only cares about gifts but not the true meaning of Christmas. And some adults themselves find excuses into party and drinking, or shower themselves with vanity gifts. Rich people who have never gone through poverty or had not exposed to that kind of experience could care less about giving.
My parents always communicated us with family situation regardless of age while I was growing up so we learned to appreciate for what we have and learned to share with people who are lack of. Now, we only give to charities instead of buying stuff unless it's needed and not wanted. There are far more poor people on this planet and if everyone gives just a little, this will help end world hunger. There are more people who are willing to give only provided by the propaganda of radio and TV station during holidays, but we should practice to be more compassion all year round and it's easier to share the load than "one man can not fight a thousand".

Beth Wilkerson
Beth Wilkerson4 years ago

I have cut back on gifting, but will not go giftless. My friends and I have found ways to benefit non-profits rather than exchanging gifts.

Jane R.
Jane R4 years ago

I think this gift giving thing has gotten out of hand. People buy their kids expensive things all year long and at Christmas they buy even more expensive things for them. Kids these days are spoiled rotten and expect too much.
I would be happy with no gifts other than time spent with family.