One Christmas, my family came to an agreement that made all of us breathe a sigh in relief: we agreed to stop exchanging gifts.

The truth is, we were headed in that direction anyway. It was getting kind of ludicrous – my brother and I would just ask each other, “what do you want for Christmas?” and order it online for each other. Same with my parents. This minimized hassles and guaranteed we’d like our gifts, but there was no surprise, and really no point in it.

But even worse, I know many people who stress out over the holidays about coming up with gift ideas, shopping for those gifts, and figuring out how to pay for them.

Not being obligated to give gifts was the best gift our family members could give each other. We went ahead and ditched gift-giving for birthdays too.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that maybe it’s time to ditch gift-giving among adults when done just because it’s a holiday. We shouldn’t feel obligated to purchase crappy things just because it’s Christmas or Hanukkah or someone’s birthday.

What if the holidays could become purely times for family and celebration instead?

The Exceptions

Before you think I’m a total Grinch, I do think that children should still get gifts. I wouldn’t want to rob them of the fun I had getting toys as a kid.

Also, I’m still in favor of giving gifts when you find something that the recipient could truly use or appreciate, especially if it’s hard to find or unusual. That is, giving because you found something really cool to give, not because you’re obligated to by the calendar.

Finally, I’m in favor of giving non-material gifts such as giving your time, a fancy restaurant experience, sports tickets, and things like that. I feel these improve human relationships and don’t add to landfill, and are more likely to be truly enjoyed by the recipient if chosen well.

Some Other Reasons to Ditch Material Gifts

Studies have shown that gifts have lower utility to the recipient than the equivalent value in cash. How often do we buy some useless trinket as a gift because we couldn’t think of anything better and we ran out of time?  I am guilty! How often have you received a gift you didn’t really like?

Gift cards might seem like a good solution, but a surprising amount of gift-card value goes unredeemed, which is why businesses promote them so much.  I had a card where the store went out of business, leaving me with a $150 gift card that was worthless.

Many gifts end up as clutter or landfill, and producing things contributes to climate change. How many scented candles do you really need?

What Most People Think About This

It turns out, I’m not the only one who feels this way. Seven out of ten Americans would give up gift-giving during the holidays if others gave it up. If you’re one of the majority of Americans who feel this way, maybe it’s time to have a talk with your family and friends who might actually be up for this!

What do You Think?

So, do you think it’s time to stop being obligated to give material gifts to adults during the holidays? Am I a total Grinch or is this the way of a more fiscally and environmentally responsible future? Please leave your comments below, yay or nay. – Brian

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