Changing a gift ritual can be difficult for people, so be sure to give plenty of notice, says professional organizing consultant Geralin Thomas. “Thanksgiving is not the right time to tell your family that you don’t want gifts at the holidays,” she says. They might already be planning their shopping — or finished with it.
Instead, Thomas suggests starting the conversation in the summer. Let people know, in a straightforward and lighthearted way, that you won’t be giving or receiving material gifts this year. She also recommends introducing the topic gently, with something like “We realize this may upset people, so let’s go ahead and talk about it now.”
Then you might offer something like “We’ve just decluttered and we’re on a ‘stuff diet’ — but if you’d like to give us something, we’d welcome a donation to these organizations!”
You can also offer loved ones a “one less gift” certificate. (Here’s an example from Miss Minimalist blogger Francine Jay, author of The Joy of Less and Lightly.) It releases each of you from the responsibility of finding a present — and gives you both the gift of time.
For more thoughtful presents that don’t add to life’s clutter, see “Minimalist Gift Ideas” from which this article was excerpted.