The Center for the New American Dream is issuing a 2011 “Simplify the Holidays” challenge, noting “too often, the holidays seem to exhaust rather than uplift us.” The challenge invites us to commit to taking five actions in support of a simpler holiday season.
I’m in! Won’t you join me?
The five actions I commit to are:
- Creating a paperless holiday letter
- Drawing names in our family for gift-giving (this one is easy; my family made this switch years ago)
- Adopting a “less is more” attitude toward holiday decorating
- Preparing my holiday meals with as many seasonal, locally grown, and/or organic foods as possible
- Keeping my gift-giving with friends to a bare minimum (I added this one under “other”)
I have been working on simplifying the holidays for years, and that fifth item (minimal gift-giving with friends) is one of the most important AND difficult actions to take. But completely worth the effort! You know how it is…someone you work with gives you a “little something,” so then you feel compelled to give a “little something” in return, and next thing you know you have 20 friends and acquaintances on your shopping list each December.
Every year someone I’ve met only recently gives me some little gift, and I smile and say thank you…and that’s it. I don’t run out and buy a reciprocal gift. It’s hard! I worry! Will they think I’m rude, thoughtless, or <<GASP!!>> cheap? But I know that once we start the cycle of exchanging holiday gifts, it’s even more difficult to stop. Believe me, the year I went around to friends and extended family to suggest we stop exchanging holiday gifts was an awkward one (though most people turned out to be exceedingly grateful).
One way to let folks know you won’t be exchanging gifts is to give a “Holiday Gift Exemption Voucher:”
Another way is to simply say “the best gift you can give me is to take more time for yourself.”
If you are interested in exchanging fewer gifts this year, NOW is the time to start talking with friends and family about cutting back.