All I want for Christmas

Editor’s Note: This is not another holiday gift guide. Or is it?

I used to love holiday shopping, heading out amidst the bustling crowds to find the perfect gift for a loved one.

I loved the challenge of the hunt, finding great deals while humming Christmas carols and wrapping each perfect prize in stunning packaging.

My joy on Christmas morning wasn’t about tearing open my own packages under the tree. I loved watching others open their gifts, to witness the joy on a loved one’s face when they unwrapped “the perfect gift.”

santaMe, J and Santa on Christmas Eve a few years back

Somewhere along the way, something changed. Don’t get me wrong, I still love to surprise my friends and family with gifts, particularly when they least expect it. Honestly, it’s such a great joy. But rather than buy my husband another kitchen gadget he doesn’t need, or get my father another book he won’t actually read (but will tell me he did), I’d rather spend time with my loved ones.

I’d rather travel to see them, or better yet, plan to travel somewhere together.

My sister and I stopped exchanging shortly after she moved to Australia. We gift each other when we get together, every few years. I still regularly buy food treats for my parents, as they no longer swap holiday gifts with each other.

I often find random prizes for Meri, and send them along a short time later. (Guess why? Shhh! I can’t keep a secret!) But for the past two Christmas seasons, Meri and I have given each other race entries — specifically entries to a destination race we then run together. In 2012, we headed to Florida for runDisney’s Princess Half Marathon, Meri’s first. And this year, we went to California, where we ran runDisney’s Tinkerbell Half Marathon. (Do we see a trend here?)

Last year, my hubs called a holiday gift-giving truce with his family a few weeks before Christmas. At first I was upset, as I’d already finished shopping for half of the family. Then, I realized, it wasn’t a bad idea.

We had started to focus too much on the gifts we open rather than the people we are blessed enough to have in our lives. In many cases, we were just exchanging gift cards, since we’d gotten busy or were at a loss of what to buy.

treeWhat do we put under the tree?

And often, we weren’t making time in our busy schedules to spend time together. So it all changed for 2013.

We’re not exchanging in my home. We don’t need more stuff. We’re going to enjoy each other, travel and experience life, together.

20131207-215953.jpgEnjoying the season at Rochester, NY’s holiday season kickoff last weekend

Do you love to shop at the holidays? What’s your gift-giving strategy?

18 thoughts on “All I want for Christmas

  1. Great concept! Who would not prefer a shared experience as compared to more stuff that is not needed? (But you can always bring cookies to our house.) See you soon.

  2. I think there should be no gifts at Christmas, unless they’re buying a goat in Africa or something! Of course, my nieces and nephews don’t feel the same way. πŸ˜‰ The best gift for me is spending time with my family and friends. πŸ™‚

  3. Such a great post, Vic! I completely agree that the holiday season has lost its spirit in my family. I am trying to get them to all agree to a trip together instead. That way we make the time to spend a week together.

    • Thank you Bonnie! We’ve wanted to do a Christmas week trip for years now, but its hard with my job. Someday! I hope you are able to make that happen with yours- its such a wonderful way to spend the holiday!

  4. I love this. We don’t exchange gifts at all, for any occasion and it has enriched our lives exponentially. Things are nice but it’s much nicer to spend that time and energy with family. Kudos!

  5. Great blog post! I love Christmas presents giving and receiving, but I do this for birthday and anniversary presents. I just love spending time with my husband and kids on my birthday, going on trips, or eating good food. The last couple of years my husband and I do a race for our anniversary as our date rather than give a gift. I agree with you the gift is the time with each other and the experience, not the item.

    • I love that you and Sean run a race together to celebrate your anniversary. it speaks to what you love and who you both are. Spending time together is the true gift, xo (and happy holidays!)

  6. I usually do this! It started a few years ago when instead of a mother’s day present, I told my mom that we were going to go to DC for the day, all expenses paid by me. Now if you know anything about DC it’s literally free to go there (just pay for parking and food!) but it was seriously the best gift ever because all my mom wanted to do was hang out with me. She still talks about it years later! Two years ago I got my parents Flyers tickets so we could all go together, and last year I rented a cabin at World’s End State Park for a weekend (I think it was $50 total) and we all went up as a family. This year I think I’m taking my parents/sister to the shooting range since we all like that kind of thing and rarely get to do it together. My parents never use the crap I used to buy them, but they always talk about the experiences I bought them!

    • The best gift is certainly an experience! I wholeheartedly agree! My sister used to do this for my parents – take them to an art gallery and so on. For a few years I took my mother to a broadway show, she loved that!

  7. I sort of did this for my dad this year. For Fathers Day (because that’s when I switched from the half to the full) I gave him ChEar Squad tickets to see me finish my first marathon at Disney. Even when I told him how early it was, and how crazy it will be, he was ecstatic.

  8. My fiancee and I were just talking about this a few days ago. We both agreed that we would rather be spending time together, traveling, going on new adventures and making memories than buying gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy giving gifts but I want to be sure that we incorporate more of the gift of doing things together, traveling together or just being together as well πŸ™‚

    • I love it Karen! To me, spending time together is the greatest gift. (I don’t live anywhere near my family either, so for that reason it makes it all the more special) Happy Holidays!!

  9. Ahhh I love this idea! Yes! traveling is the best gift to each other… even if it is just a weekend getaway or a major vacation! I love the idea of gifting some kind of lesson… like dance, yoga, or painting. Score.

    • a lesson is a GREAT idea! One year my hubby gave me cooking lessons. (at first I wasn’t sure what to think. was he telling me I needed to be a better chef?) BUT I LOVED IT!!

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