Giving no Christmas presents - have you tried it?

This thread is inspired by an article on MoneySavingExpert proposing a ban on Christmas presents:

I wondered whether many people have tried it and what their experiences were. What was your reason for wanting to avoid Christmas presents? And did those around you happily join in? Or maybe you enjoy giving/receiving presents and think Christmas is not the same without it. All experiences are welcome.

My close family decided last Christmas not to give each other presents except my niece and nephew, who are small. Parents found it weird and uncomfortable, but went along with it. Last time, I got the kids clothes and books, but they didn’t really need the clothes so some of the gifts were just excess (they loved and could appreciate the story books). This year, the parents don’t want to deal with more physical stuff, so kids will get to rip open boxes of sweets and biscuits instead. Last year, I also cheated a bit and gave the adults thank-you gifts (albeit not on Christmas day, but days before) for having helped me out some time ago. I haven’t given Christmas presents to friends or colleagues for most of my life, so that has never been an issue.

This year, I am being strict and not giving any gifts for any reasons except edible stuff for the kids. It is a huge relief not to have to run around the shops or surf websites trying to buy stuff for the sake of it. It eases the pressure for everyone, especially my siblings who have bigger things on their minds right now. Moreover, I have all the jumpers, socks, and bath salts I need, so getting obligatory tat like that actually stresses me out. We’ll pump some excess cash we have into exceptional food and drink that we wouldn’ t normally get the rest of the year. But otherwise, going counter-culture just saves us a lot of money and allows us to relax and focus on being together.

I’ve been trying to get my family to do this for years with little success.

I have all the ‘things’ I want, and when I do want to replace some thing with another thing, I just get on and do it.

I’ve managed to persuade my parents to send me money for Christmas, and I send it straight back, which is fun. I’ve yet to persuade them to not bother sending it, though.


I’ve agreed with my sibling that we’ll get presents for each other’s kids, but not for each other or our partners. Tried that with parents too but they were not keen.

Some years turn into email exchanges of Amazon wish lists and gift cards, lazy and predictable. This year at least we’re trying a no-Amazon approach using local shops,, stuff from Etsy, etc. Still ending up with wish lists though, otherwise the kids will get huge lumps of plastic tat that get played with once then end up in recycling or landfill.


Presents mainly for kids and grandkids now.

Ahhh, this is a topic which is right up my street.

Basically, I haven’t bothered buying anyone other than my Wife, any Christmas presents for years. The problem with human beings is, we’re like sheep and we just have to keep on following long held traditions and beliefs even when people don’t want to. Guilt is a massive decider for most when it comes to buying Christmas presents. If you don’t buy something for someone, then people think you’re either too tight, miserly, uncaring etc. Personally, I couldn’t care less what others think about me not buying presents. For me, it’s the folks who expect a gift that have an issue.

Consequently, as a result of my ‘selfishness’ the Wife and I are never in Christmas debt. We certainly don’t expect any presents from anyone else and we make it very clear to everyone that we don’t give presents. It’s the same with Christmas cards, haven’t sent them for years. To be fair, it’s made all the easier for us because we don’t have any kids. Yes, me and the missus buy something for each other, but everyone else gets zilch.

I accept that many people will find our attitude totally selfish, probably a bit bizarre and not in keeping with everyone elses idea of conformity, but there it is. At the end of the day, we have no Christmas stress, none of the stress of wondering what to buy people, no excess expenditure. Indeed if it wasn’t for bloody Covid, we’d be doing in January what we would normally do, go abroad for a winter break. Sadly, we’ll have to wait a while longer for that.


I’ve never bought presents for friend or colleagues, and a few years back the five of our family who get together for Christmas made life “easier” for ourselves by limiting how much we could spend on each other. In fact the idea was that we spent exactly the amount agreed to make it a bit of a challenge and fun. My own personal feeling was that all we ended up doing was buying rubbish “fun” stuff that was really just pointless.

I much prefer giving gifts in the moment when it’s relevant and means more. Obviously it’s nice to get gifts but I don’t expect this of anyone.

This year due to COVID-19 and because one of our five is clinically vulnerable we’re not getting together at all regardless of what the rules may or may not allow. Two people work in public facing jobs and couldn’t isolate long enough to say they would be over any infection.

We very easily decided that as we wouldn’t be getting together we wouldn’t get presents this year at all. I’d suggested this in past years, but not everyone was comfortable with it. I wonder now if we will go back to giving the tat we used to each year when Christmas 2021 comes around :slight_smile:

1 Like

This thread is riddled - with common sense :wink:.

We long ago stopped regarding Christmas as a present-giving thing.

Immediate impact? Totally absence of shopping-related anxiety, glancing repeatedly at my watch as I rushed around town, the “have I got enough for XXX?” nonsense. And yes, all that guilt bollox.

Some cash for the two adult children…”and if you’re coming around sometime over the holiday, bring a decent Christmas pudding - that’s all, just a Christmas pudding, no other crap.”

Works like a charm :partying_face:

Merry Christmas :christmas_tree:


Very much this!


1 Like

Very much guilt is what keeps me in the gift giving cycle.

I don’t want to take part. Everyone else in my family does. And it’s a big family. Many want extravagant gifts in return for cheap tat. None of us end up with anything we actually want or need, so it’s just money wasted.

I’d sooner buy myself that HomePod mini I’ve been lusting for, and everyone else just use their own money on something they want for themselves.

I get that takes away some of the magic, which is a shame in a way because I love the magic, and I’d miss it. But I despise it. Honestly I’d rather Christmas be handled like Reddit secret Santa. It’s cheap, but far more heartwarming and meaningful, and you’re likely to end up with something relating to your interests that you’d appreciate sentimentally and wouldn’t have otherwise bought yourself.

So true! If my parents weren’t willing to just go along with it, non-gift-giving would stay just between my siblings and I, which would then make for an awkward moment under the tree, and eventually gift-giving would creep back in just so we could avoid awkwardness and guilt. In fact, I sent a message to my family asking if we were avoiding gifts again this year, just to establish an explicit agreement, because it’s still not natural for any of us and guilt might make us lapse into old habits.

I’m also trying to develop a habit of giving a gift when I see something perfect for the other person or if the gift will help them in some way. A nice surprise that comes randomly in the year, actually will be used, and comes with no expectation of reciprocity attached is probably more fun for both the giver and receiver.

I guess it’s very easy for me to say this, but it isn’t difficult to just say ‘No’. Be polite but firm and just tell people you’re not interested. From experience, you soon find out who the selfish gits in life are, those who feel that getting a present is some sort of ‘right’. This is why I have no guilt in giving bugger all if I don’t want to. As I stated earlier, human beings are like sheep, the moment someone defies ‘the norm’, it upsets the applecart.

As long as I get a good dinner on Christmas day and access to a bottle of my favourite whiskey, then that’s good enough for me.

1 Like

“Giving no Christmas presents - have you tried it?”

As a Yorkshireman, this idea sounds right up my street.

I’ll float the idea with my other half - if this should be my last post on here, it probably didn’t go well.