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The No-Gift Guide for the Holiday Season

I'm not a scrooge. Promise! I love the holidays as much as the next person. I adore decorating, gathering with family and friends, and filling up on the tastes of the season. I am 100% committed to the ENTIRE holiday season. Well, almost...

What I've struggled with over the past several years is gift giving. I moved away from my core family 3 years ago. I enjoy the holidays "at home" as opposed to traveling. This leaves me with nearly 20 family members who I historically purchased gifts for that I no longer see on Christmas Day. The epic effort of buying gifts in advance and the colossal expense and effort of shipping them (all wrapped and pretty) has simply gotten to be too much for me. The last 2 years, I have gone through this exercise but it feels so empty and tiresome. In addition to the long distance gifts, I now spend Christmas with family in my new city which takes my shopping list to well over 25 people. Buying so many gifts has limited the per person budget to such a measly amount that it no longer feels good. And, it's certainly not fun.

This Christmas, I have decided that I am only giving gifts to my husband and my children. All of my loved ones will receive a "no-gift" gift from me. If you are in the same boat, maybe this will give you some ideas on how to wean the gift recipients in your life off of purchased presents and introduce them to a new way of spreading holiday cheer.

For the kids - Holiday Baking Party - Ok, so this is not a "free" or "super cheap" endeavor but it is FUN and MEMORABLE. Every year for the last several years, I invite all of the really close children in my life - nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends - to spend a parent-free afternoon with me making a holiday ornament craft that I design and decorating sugar cookies. We go all out and use fun stuff like edible spray paint to appeal to a wide age range. This is a hit every year and the kids love it. The parents appreciate a half day away to finish shopping! It's a double whammy!

For the tween/teen girl - My teen loves a good makeover. She also gives a good makeover. Make an appointment for an in-home makeover day with a tween or teen. Watch a few YouTube videos of makeup tutorials and select one to recreate on each other. Take photos and post them to Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram and, of course, send them to your YouTube make up celebrity inspiration.

For your partner - Ah, the forgotten art of romance. Maybe you have candlelit dinners and introspective conversations every week? I don't but I'd like to! One of my gifts for my husband this Christmas will be the gift of romance. This gift might be more for me than it is for him, but planning a romantic evening and presenting your partner with a certificate or something symbolic (scented handkerchief, loose rose petals, chocolate covered strawberries, etc.) is a perfect way to give the gift of togetherness. Be creative - recreate your first date, be a tourist in your city, take a salsa class...

For a special friend - If you really need to give a physical gift, I say make it! I have been the laughing stock of Christmas for years because one year (while broke and in college!!!) I laminated fall leaves into a craft project. I gave it to my aunt. Bad idea. Somehow this still comes up every Christmas almost 20 years later. So, don't laminate leaves but tap into your own (true) talent. If you aren't sure of what that is, get crafty! Michael's has a great selection of DIY jewelry and wood kits. The options are endless. Baking is also a fantastic option because everyone loves to eat! Wrap your baked goods up like they are from a high end department store and, voila, a classy gift that everyone will love.

For everyone else - Are you planning to make an end of the year charitable gift? If so, make it in the name of your family and friends! Let them know in a holiday card that a gift to charity was made in their honor. Have the charity add them to their mailing list so that they can learn more about the organization that you chose to support. This type of gift says that you are thinking of this person and wish them well during the season. I had a co-worker who made a gift to the Ronald McDonald House every year in the name of all of his immediate teammates. It was always a nice gesture.

That's it! My NO-GIFT Guide for the holidays. May your holidays be filled with what matters- family, laughter, food and fun.

Photos for the Allen-Hobson Kid's Holiday Party 2015

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