December 18, 2013

Please, No Presents

Dear Santa (or NSA or whoever you are),

Assuming that we aren't on the "naughty" side of your little spy ledger, please do not bring any presents to our house. We have everything we need, and there is nothing more that we want that you can provide.


Two Simple Living People

Two decades ago when Linda and I announced that we were no longer participating in consumer Christmas gift giving, the people around us went through a few interesting and definable stages.

Stage One: Confusion 

Most people were initially thrown into a state of confusion. Who doesn't like giving and receiving stuff you don't really need?

Stage Two: Anger

Many people were offended that we were opting out of this manufactured consumer holiday and the sacred shopping rituals that go with it - like panic shopping late at night on December 24th, or figuring the amount of debt incurred as the first activity of the New Year. Perhaps they were angry because they never realized that you could opt out.

Stage 3: Curiosity

After a while people started asking questions about what motivated us to quit Christmas gifting. It was an opportunity to share our philosophy of a less materially-focused lifestyle.

Stage 4: Acceptance

Eventually those within our circles, including the person who first said, "Well how can I do anything for you if I can't buy you gifts?", came to accept our decision to go gift-less.

Stage 5: Relief

Some were even relieved that they could scratch us off their list, thus making their lives a little easier at a busy time of year. A few have even adopted some form of our Please, No Presents Policy in their own start-of-winter celebrations.


  1. Anonymous12/18/2013

    Thank you so much for this timely article! We have struggled with this concept for many years (to get it across to others) but this article is awesome and we have already forwarded it to family and friends. Thanks again!

    1. Anon,

      It would be interesting to hear how your loved ones respond to your continued push for No Presents.

      Good luck in your endeavours toward a less consumer-oriented celebration. Happy to be of help.

  2. Anonymous12/18/2013

    The anger from others was the one that was a shock to me when I declared "No Presents". I still have one relative who insists on buying me a present. I've resigned myself to the fact that I can't control someone's actions. She somehow thinks that I would be sad to not have a present to open. Then why not wrap an empty box? Works for me :-)

    1. Miss Marla,

      My mother in law still sends us a care package this time of year. However, the contents have changed dramatically over the years, and they now consist of 100% edible, yummy things. Also, a little bit of cash that we usually stash away in our dental savings account.

      I love the empty box idea! Contents? Love and caring. Best gift ever, any time of year.

  3. It truly is a great relief when you establsih no presents with family and friends. Life becomes easier, more graceful and more honest. We don't have to cow tow to artificial needs where every month sees some new promotion - another event to mark with buying. So sick of it all but lucky to have understanding people around who are just as happy to reciprocate. As you say - we have all we need and nothing anyone gave us could make us happier :)


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