It’s hard to believe that November is starting in just a few days and the holiday season will be upon us soon. Gift giving is a big part of most people’s celebrations, but you may be looking for alternatives if you are trying to declutter and embrace a more minimalist lifestyle. The key to successfully proposing a reduction in holiday gifts to your loved ones is giving them another option that they can get excited about. I’d like to share an idea for changing up this holiday tradition that has worked really well for me. Several years ago my boyfriend and I had a heart-to-heart about gifts. We were both launching our own businesses and money was tight. We were also committed to decluttering our belongings, and the gifts we exchanged, while appreciated, were not helping us work toward that goal. We devised a solution that we have liked so much, it has become an annual tradition. Sometime during the holiday season we sit down and brainstorm things we want to do together, such as new restaurants to try, places to visit, shows to see, or meals to cook. Throughout the year we consult this list and check off items as we complete them. When the holidays come around again, we review the list, reminisce about the fun experiences we shared, and come up with new ideas for the upcoming year. Not only is this a great reference for the times we are struggling to come up with something new to do, but it is a way to gift each other our most precious resource: our time. You might initially propose a holiday activity list with your significant other, but this idea can easily be adapted for the other relationships in your life. If you exchange gifts with extended family, why not pool your resources for a group outing or a special meal instead? You might forgo gifts with friends for a night out or a spa day together. Kids will be the toughest sell - and you will probably not do away with presents for them altogether - but if you allow them to participate in the process of picking the shared activities they may be more open to the idea of fewer gifts to open. It can be an effective way to shift your family's focus from material goods to the real spirit of the season.
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