Week 11: Make holidays more meaningful

When I decided to simplify my life and reduce my belongings, I didn’t realize that the “holiday gift-giving department” of my life would be a bit more challenging than I had expected.  

I am a very generous person. I love to give. Giving makes my soul happy.

I provide for my aging parents back home (Philippines). I have supported my six siblings through school when my parents became unemployed. I spoil my nephew and nieces with gifts.

I regularly send at least one balikbayan box full of stuff to my family every Christmas since 2007.

I donate to charities. I volunteer in my community.

I love giving gifts. In fact, I find the act of wrapping gifts very, very “relaxing”. I put my heart and soul in every gift that I wrap.

But then, the question is, how can I celebrate the holidays without compromising my own minimalist ways?

How can we make holidays more meaningful?

Here are a number of simple suggestions for making the holidays more meaningful—for you, your friends, and your family. They’re guaranteed to help you savor this season of warmth and caring.

Remember what the season is all about

It is so easy to be swept up in the consumerism of the season, but remember that holidays are not about money and material things.

Holiday season is more about traditions and togetherness – and less about consumerism.

So this year, celebrate the holidays by spending more time with the people you care about and less on unimportant material things.

Don’t buy it if you can’t afford it

Taking out a loan or going bankrupt in order to cover holiday expenses is simply ridiculous.

If you can’t afford to buy your family some expensive gifts, then just don’t do it – it’s okay to say no.

Losing your mind due to holiday financial stress is far more detrimental to you and your family than skipping a few presents.

Get creative with gift giving

You can still spread the holiday cheer by making personalized and/or handmade presents. These are extremely thoughtful and nice gifts that you can make while spending only a fraction of the cost.

Just like what they say, “It’s the thought that counts.”

Gift experiences, not things

When Steve and I got married, we set the expectation with our friends and family that we don’t need any more stuff, and if they want to give us gifts, they can get us experiences we will enjoy.

I love the fact that they were able to celebrate our new married life with us by spending time with us, not by piling on more stuff.

Give your time

What if your parents want nothing more than a visit from you?

What if your little kids might love nothing more than to play or have fun with you?

For me, the people I care about mean much more to me than a fancy new gadget or another unimportant expensive gift.

Your best present is your presence.

Whatever you decide when it comes to giving gifts, this is my holiday wish for you: 

Less mess, less stress.

Less debt, more peace.

Less presents, more presence.

Live with less, give more love.

With much love,


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