7 Simple Steps to Simplify Your Christmas Gift Giving

1. Set a Budget

Number one, set a budget. I love YNAB, which stands for you Need a budget, and I’m going to share a link to another podcast I did about this program.

Gift Spending

According to a study done by the National Retail Federation, total holiday spending was over 1 trillion in 2018.

That’s a lot of money, and it’s not that gift-giving is bad, but we need to remember that Christmas is not just about giving gifts, I like to say it’s about presence, not presents.

Meaning being present in your relationship with God, being present in relationships with those you love, being present with the world around you.

Now if gift giving does not bring you joy, then you can just opt out. Just say,

“I am choosing this year to be present and not give gifts, and please don’t feel like you need to give me gifts either.”

Now, for most of us, this probably would be a little too extreme. And I honor that.

So to me, simplifying seems to be an easier step to take.

2. Set Other Limitations

A limit on the amount of gifts you’re going to give.

Or even a cost of a gift you’re going to give.

So if you usually give 15 gifts to each of your kids, try doing only 10 gifts.

If you drop down to only three, they might revolt.

So you have to wean them into a simplification of gift giving.

Having said that, if you just have little kids, try creating the tradition of doing the four gift way.

  • something to read
  • something you need
  • something you want
  • something to wear

Or some people do five gifts where the fifth is a surprise.

3. Shop Online

And do this way ahead of time.

There is often delays in shipping nowadays, and so I find I like to do most of my shopping by the end of November for any online purchases I want to do.

My husband, Rob, likes to remind me that in 1998, when I was on bedrest with Devon, I used Amazon to do all of my shopping.

I was one of probably the first Amazon shoppers out there, and I still do the majority of my shopping online, and find it super helpful for me

4. Give Experiences

Number four, you can give experiences.

My mother-in-law, gave us an indoor skydiving experience for the family.

It was fun memories and also probably simplified her gift giving experience as well.

And one of my friends last year, went on a cruise for Christmas, and that was everyone’s gift. That was simplifying because they didn’t have to buy anyone gifts and they had fun family memories on that experience as well.


5. Clutter Free Gifts

This is a way that I have found easier to shift to, especially for neighbors, is to pick out gifts that I know people will USE.

They’re clutter free, meaning it’s not like a decoration or item that they might not use.

Rather, I love to give out our favorite pancake mix from Trader Joe’s, which is the pumpkin pancake mix.

Or one year I did our favorite hot chocolate, which is a Mexican hot chocolate

or yummy smelling soap is always a pretty good safe bet.

Last year our neighborhood actually skipped neighbor gifts and instead donated to a neighbor in need.

And it was so great, it simplified things for everyone. We didn’t have to buy neighbor gifts, and it was very meaningful and helpful for this family.

6. White Elephant Parties

Number six is to have white elephant parties,

and when I say white elephant gifts, in this case, I don’t mean weird, obscure, yucky white elephant gifts.

I mean, actually useful gifts that people would enjoy.

This is great for fun, large family gatherings, or if you have a friend gathering.

One way that I’m going to simplify this year is I’m going to let everyone in my family buy and wrap their own gift.

In the past I’ve gone and bought five gifts, wrapped them all and brought them.

That’s just ridiculous.

One change to simplify my Christmas gift giving this year is

We still will have the white elephant parties, but I will only buy one gift from me

and let my family members buy their own and wrap them.

7. Wrapping Gifts

This honestly is one of the most time consuming parts of the whole gift experience for me, since I do most of my shopping early and start online and then streamline things with the white elephant party.

The wrapping and the shipping of what I buy feels sometimes crazy and overwhelming and takes me so much longer than I always think it will.

I really do love using reusable wrapping options.

One year my boys got into sewing pillow cases and they sewed a bunch of holiday pillow cases. So I actually will use those to wrap bigger things. And it’s so nice because it just takes one or two pieces of tape. Mind you, I have to let that image of the perfectly wrapped gifts under my tree, and some of you might not feel comfortable with that, but I’m totally fine with it.

This year I invested in some other reusable wrapping options, cute boxes that will flatten down so I can reuse them each year.

And also some holiday bags that I can just tie closed because they have handles.

I’ll just use these reusable things for people in our house that will be opening things so I can again reuse them next year.

But it will definitely simplify my wrapping experience and I’m again going to let other people wrap their own gifts.

I don’t understand why I’ve been doing this for so many years????

My commitment to simplify this year – what is yours?

I am going to simplify the way I wrap gifts.

I will only wrap the gifts that I am giving, and I will be using these boxes and bags.


I’ll just have to add tags.

I will definitely let you know how that goes, but that is what I’m committing to and I would love to hear what one change you will make this year and know that even one change will make a difference.

It will simplify things at least a little bit, and then maybe next year make a different change and on and on, and eventually your Christmases will be super simple.