Make Memories This Holiday Season

Not that we need to be reminded, but the annual gift-giving season is creeping up on us. It’s impossible to escape it because most retail stores have been populating their aisles with holiday decorations since well before Halloween.

Over the past few years, I’ve been gradually rethinking my family’s approach to gift giving. And ever since I’ve started learning more about minimalism and began working hard to reduce the amount of stuff and clutter in our home, my approach to gift giving has shifted dramatically.

A few years ago, after my Mom passed away, my sister and I agreed to share an experience as families, instead of sitting around the Christmas tree, on some hard to schedule December day, to open beautifully wrapped packages of stuff – some stuff that hit the mark and some that didn’t.


With our busy family schedules and multiple obligations around the holidays, all of the coordinating, purchasing, wrapping, and traveling just added stress to an already stressful season.

Our Idea? Instead of buying each other stuff – we decided to make memories.

It started out as “just the girls” – her two daughters, my two daughters, my sister, and me.

The first year, we shared time in Newport, RI, touring the amazingly decorated mansions. Two years ago, we took in many of the historical sites in Philadelphia. Last year, we spent a weekend in NYC where the highlights included a walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and a rainy afternoon playing shuffleboard – and we’re still laughing about how bad I was at the game!!


This year, we decided to include our husbands. We are all meeting in NYC for a Billy Joel concert at Madison Square Garden. He’s a family favorite who everyone is looking forward to seeing.

This change in our approach to our gift giving routine has provided more meaning to the season for us.

Since our family is scattered along the East Coast, it’s challenging to get together on a regular basis, so we really look forward to dedicating a chunk of time to doing something together. Months in advance (this year it was March!), we have fun brainstorming ideas about what to do.

And once the decision is made, it’s fun to get everyone participating in the planning

This is just one example of changing up tradition and reducing the amount of clutter and stress we bring into our lives. This season, I challenge you to reduce the amount of stuff you buy, and consider making memories that last instead.

As you put your list together, here are five questions to ask about each gift that you have selected:

  • What is the purpose behind the gift?
  • Is the gift something the receiver needs?
  • Does the gift add value to the life of the receiver?
  • Is the gift functional and will it serve multiple or repeated uses?
  • Could I make the gift myself?

Would you consider changing up your holiday traditions by gifting experiences instead of stuff?

Changing up your gift-giving priorities is a different kind of decluttering, but it still is decluttering. Think about the stress that you won’t be experiencing. Think about the time you will be saving.

If you’ve already rethought your gift giving, I’d love to hear about your most meaningful holiday traditions – the ones that don’t include shopping, wrapping, and stressing! Please share them in the comments below for all to see!

And I will share with you our Billy Joel family experience in an upcoming newsletter.

4 comments to Make Memories This Holiday Season

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