Want to Avoid Post-Holiday Regret? Take the Gift List Challenge

By Jackie Beck   Updated 05/10/2021 at 8:21 am

Ah, Christmastime. That time of year from now ’til December 24th when we hit the sales and buy buy buy, trying to find just the right thing (or sometimes just anything) for all of the people on our list.

And then comes January, with its credit card statements and post-holiday regret.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

So if you’re with me, take the gift list challenge.

How to take the challenge

It’s easy. Just commit to reducing your gift list this year by one (or more!) names. (Share this post to encourage others to do so too!)

It’ll save you stress, money, and time. And if you do it right, it’ll do the same for the former recipients too by relieving them of the feeling that they “need” to reciprocate. When we cut back on gift giving, we actually had people thank us for doing so!

If you’re on the fence..

If reducing the number of gifts you give sounds appealing but you just aren’t sure who you could possibly cut from your list, this part is for you.

First, think back to last Christmas. Do you remember every single gift you got, and who gave each one to you? More importantly, have you spent the last year dwelling on who didn’t give you a gift? Probably not.

Other people won’t remember either. Giving and receiving gifts is just not as important as we make it out to be at this time of year. Especially not physical gifts. (The gifts of time or service, however, can be awesome.)

So who might you cross of the list?

1. People to whom gifts aren’t meaningful. While YOU might really enjoy giving and receiving gifts, some people just don’t care about getting yet another item that they have to find a place to put. Give them the gift of no longer needing to do that instead. It’s a win-win situation.

2. People you don’t know really, really well. (Such as coworkers, neighbors, or distant relatives that you rarely or never see.) Try a card instead if you want to acknowledge them on the holiday. If those distant relatives are small children, just give their parents a heads up that you’re scaling back Christmas this year to only a few people. (Kids can get an overwhelming number of gifts, so they’re actually the recipients who are least likely to even notice that they got one less gift.)

3. People who actually TELL you that they don’t want or need anything. Take them at their word, because chances are they’re being honest. Spend time with them instead, whether that’s doing an activity you both enjoy (for example, playing cards or watching a movie on Netflix) or doing something helpful for them. (Such as washing their car, fixing things around their house, etc.) If they don’t live near you, give them the gift of monthly or weekly phone calls or letters.

4. People you currently give to out of obligation. I’m just going to say it here: your children’s teachers do not need yet another cutesy mug. If you want to show your appreciation, write a heart-felt and specific thank you note and then volunteer, provide classroom supplies, or give a small amount of cold hard cash that they can actually USE.

5. People you can’t figure out what to buy. If you don’t know what someone would actually like or enjoy as a gift, they’re probably people you either don’t know well (#2 in this list) or people who don’t want or need anything (#3). Cross them off your list rather than giving a filler gift that they’ll be left dealing with.


Crossing someone off your gift-giving list doesn’t mean that you don’t love or appreciate the person you used to give gifts to. It just means you’re scaling back on Christmas stress and post-holiday bills. And if they give you a gift anyway? Genuinely thank them. And that’s it! The urge to reciprocate is strong, but most people don’t give Christmas gifts with the intention of making you give something back. Thank you IS enough.

Finally, if you normally give multiple gifts to certain people (such as your immediate family) consider cutting back on the total number of those gifts. One or two meaningful gifts are usually appreciated a whole lot more than a bunch of gifts.

So are you in?

If you’re ready to take the Gift List Challenge, commit to reducing your gift list by one (or more!) names this year. Comment below that you’re doing so, & share this post to encourage others to do so too :)

The Gift List Challenge: reducing your holiday gift giving without looking like Scrooge

One thought on “Want to Avoid Post-Holiday Regret? Take the Gift List Challenge

  1. If you are crossing someone off your list, show them this post. :) A great idea. The Holidays should be more about time with family and friends and not about the number of gifts received.

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