A family's journey of learning how to make a home, save money and be healthy… while having fun doing it!

Giving Experiences or Consumables for Christmas

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For some reason, this year we’ve been thinking a lot about Christmas and birthday gifts. We’ve also been following a lot of minimalism and “simplifying” blogs so I’m guessing it’s somehow related.

The main minimalism blog we follow is Becoming Minimalist because I like that his view on minimalism is functional minimalism and also concentrates on minimalism of the mind and finances as well.

The last two years we tried to ask for “experiences” or college money (for Auden) for our Birthdays and Christmas, instead of toys or nick-nacks.  And we tried to give consumables, gift cards, or experiences for Christmas.

We definitely got some mixed reactions.

Some people responded amazingly well, and loved the idea.

Greg’s aunt purchased a Zoo pass for our whole family two Christmases ago; Greg’s grandparent’s purchased a Milwaukee museum pass for us this Christmas, my sister gave Auden college money for his birthday (with a few packs of stickers, which was amazing to him) and my in-laws/Greg’s aunt got him gymnastics classes for his birthday this year. My mother in law got me tickets to a Cubs vs. Brewers game for my birthday.

As for others, I felt like I was offending them. People like buying Christmas presents– physical things, not experiences or gift cards and the challenge of wrapping them. Heck, I love wrapping different shapes of presents and figuring out how I’m going to do it. But I hate Christmas shopping, because of the crowds, grumpy people, and probably because I worked retail for a long time.

I also hate waiting until the last minute, and usually have most of my Christmas shopping done before December even starts.

As I spend this week rushing to clean out what I can before the semester starts, I’m reminded that the reason we began trying to downsize and de-clutter our lives was that we had to much stuff, and we still do. I would venture to guess that our families and friends also have the same problem, or have everything that they need.

So I’ve come up with a compromise, which is that I’ll be buying subscription boxes, consumables (for example, fancy truffles, the kind that you wouldn’t scarf down while scrolling through Facebook, but actually enjoy), and experiences for as many people on our list as I can this year. And I’ll be asking for things I plan to buy myself anyway, and just put off buying them for awhile (specialty food, makeup, ebooks, Nespresso refills, etc).

This year Greg and I decided that since we have everything we need, and usually end up over-spending anyway, what we’d love is time to spend together. After our crazy semesters are over, we usually feel like we haven’t seen each other, so what we’ve decided to do this year is spend a couple days down in the city (for a good price of course, we got a hotel for $63 a night in Chicago on Groupon (if it’s not still available, don’t worry, just keep checking back, because they always have Chicago hotel deals)

We’re going to spend the time enjoying the city’s decorations, and enjoy watching all of the crazy last minute shoppers together, knowing that we were done with our shopping months ago. I can’t wait!

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