Presents vs. Presence: My Family’s New Holiday Plan


Every time another holiday approaches, I start to think about what it means to me and my family, and how we are going to celebrate this year.  With Easter right around the corner, my husband and I have already decided that we are not going to go over-board on gifts this year.  We made this decision mostly based on our current efforts to tighten the purse strings and to pay off some debt.  But once it was made, I started thinking more about these holidays, what they have become, and what they mean to me.

My family celebrates all the traditional Christian holidays.  Growing up, the Easter Bunny hid eggs, Santa filled our stockings, and birthdays were made special with delicious cake and an assortment of gifts.  Brad and I did the same for our kids when they were younger.  But now the kids are growing up and I am starting to re-think things.  I am starting to realize and truly believe that holidays are over-commercialized and that for me, the real meaning of the holidays has been lost under a pile of meaningless gifts.

Every Christmas, for example, we are faced with the same task. What will we get [insert name here] this year? Sometimes there’s a particular gift that someone needs or has been wanting for a long time, but often enough we end up buying gifts just for the sake of buying gifts.  What is the meaning behind that?   A few weeks after Christmas, most kids I know can barely tell you what they received.  My own kids have had gifts they’ve gotten for Christmas that are still in the package months later.

We’ve all seen it – weeks, sometimes months, before the holiday actually arrives big box stores stock their shelves full of every holiday-related object imaginable.  People flock to these aisles to load their carts with decorations, gifts, and other items deemed “necessary” to properly celebrate the holiday.

Over the duration of the last few holidays, this process has sat uncomfortably with me.  And now that my husband and I are really cutting down on spending unnecessary money, even more so.  It all just seems so frivolous, and dare I say, wasteful.

So a few weeks ago, we announced to our kids that there won’t be heaps of candy for Easter this year.  Really, what child needs a small mountain of sugar anyway?  It hardly makes sense for us to harp on them about healthy eating, only to turn around and gift them with every sugar-laden treat available.  Does that mean we won’t get them anything?  Absolutely not.  But instead of the focus being on meaningless gifts (because, honestly, most kids these days already have everything they could need or want!), I want our family’s focus to be on the memories we make simply by being together.

Sleepover fun on Christmas Eve.

Sleepover fun on Christmas Eve.

That’s why my husband and I have already discussed our plans for Christmas this year.  Rather than over-load are kids with gifts as we’ve done in the past, our plan is to book a family trip where we can experience new things, have a great time, and make memories together.  I strongly believe in gifting children the gift of memories as opposed to material things.  After all, ten years from now, will they remember the new video game they got, or will they have lasting memories of our fun, family vacay?


It all goes back to my belief that spending time with your kids is far more important and meaningful than buying them gifts.  So many kids nowadays have every gadget going.  I know parents who have ran out of ideas as to what to get their kids for Christmas, because their kids already have everything.  I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of financial predicament these parents are putting themselves in, for such little result.  Yet, when I invite my stepson to play a simple game of Jenga with me, he is so excited he is literally vibrating.

So, this holiday, whatever it is, I challenge you to let go of some of the gifts and focus on the activities surrounding the holiday.  What memories is your family making?  How much quality time did you spend with your children, and most importantly, years from now, what precious memories will they have?


Check out some of my family’s special memories of holidays past!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.





2 thoughts on “Presents vs. Presence: My Family’s New Holiday Plan

  1. ValerieD says:

    Exactly! I half-jokingly told my daughter that the chocolate bunny I gave her last year is coming out of the freezer and will be re-gifted this year. Our family is also planning a Christmas vacation instead of gifts this year. I agree that memories are far better than meaningless gifts!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s