Experience Vs. “Things”— Your presence is the present!
Yesterday, I was sitting next to a lovely thirty-something mother at the nail salon. The conversation turned to the holidays; with a sigh and slumped shoulders, she proceeded to lament the burden of holiday shopping. Her annual shopping experience that not only includes her family also includes her circle of friends, all of whom she adores. I suggested that perhaps her group of girlfriends might celebrate their friendship AND the holidays together at a favorite restaurant instead of buying material gifts.
It’s a “win-win” from a time and expense perspective. And moreover, it cements relationships with time spent together, rather than time spent in a mall or shopping online.
I am going to share another idea that a dear friend mentioned many years ago. Her large family skipped the “gift giving” and instead everyone over the age of 18 contributed a certain dollar amount to a fund every year. This fund was invested and the entire family enjoyed a family cruise five years later. No stuff, but incredible memories for everyone!
This year, I am committing to the time vs. the stuff.
Giving To Others
- Time together spent choosing a local food bank or children’s shelter and buying, wrapping and delivering goods to them.
- Gathering used books and toys to go to donation centers.
- Visiting loved ones in nursing homes or elderly family members who can’t get out.
- On my husband’s side of the family, we all donate to each other’s favorite charity, and have been doing so for many years.
Quality Vs. Quantity
“America’s children are being buried in an avalanche of toys,” says Douglas Martin in the New York Times.
I recently read Josh Becker’s article “Why Fewer Toys will Benefit your Kids,” on his website, Becoming Minimalistic. He says, “Wise parents understand that fewer, higher quality toys will actually benefit their children in the long-term.” He notes the following:
- Kids learn to be more creative and resourceful
- Kids develop longer attention spans
- Kids experience more of nature
- Kids develop a greater love for reading, writing and art
- Kids become more resourceful and creative
To read the entire article click here.
In our family, we are one of three sets of grandparents so we all try to keep the toy purchasing under control (except for books!) Just last week my daughter specifically asked that we buy no more than 3 gifts for the kids this Christmas season. Done.
Here are some other ideas I’ve been contemplating the past couple of months as the holiday season approaches:
• Less debt = reduced stress = more happiness
This year’s goal: a commitment to a budget that doesn’t make us cringe when we open January’s credit card statement.
• Less stuff = less storage needs = more savings
How many of us (yes, us included) are paying for a monthly storage unit outside of our homes? Ours is small but still ….we could be saving that money, instead of warehousing stuff we don’t use day-to-day.
• Less stuff = less maintenance = more time for life experiences
I’ve certainly found that the more stuff I have, the more I have to take care of.
• Less food = less weight gain = less guilt = better health
This holiday season I’m going to focus on thinking more about eating less and chewing more. I know that I’ll feel better, emotionally and physically. I don’t want to beat myself up in January when I stop fitting into my clothes.
• Less time shopping = less stress = more time “having fun!”
Is it possible to keep to budget, and spend less time shopping so that I might give myself the gifts of fun times with family and friends in activities that enrich us during the season? I’ve spent far too much time in the past shopping, stressing and then being too tired to enjoy the wonderful music, local performances and other gifts of the season. Not this year.
• Less expectation = less stress = more room for surprises
For me, I’m continuing to learn to curb expectations and allow for daily spontaneity and surprises.
• Less control = less stress = more collaboration
Many of us grew up with a mom who did EVERYTHING for every major event and holiday. Talk about stress. Everyone has talents and actually wants to be part of the process. When we share the planning of a special event, it becomes a collective and much richer experience for everyone.
• Less overextension = less stress = more energy
Need I say more?
As I review this list, it’s easy to see that committing to the “less is more” plan, especially this holiday season, offers a lot of upside: better health –- emotionally, physically, and financially. I plan to commit to asking myself everyday this month, “Is this enough?” and leaning into being satisfied with Yes!
Let’s make “Less is More” the mantra for this holiday season?