Have Yourself a Minimal Holiday Season

And just like that, everyone’s talking about the upcoming holiday (a.k.a. “shopping”) season. Deals on Black Friday and Cyber Monday aren’t bad, but they can be very deceiving.

I have a short list of great gift-giving ideas at the bottom of this article but we first have to understand why we like to shop for possessions the way we do.

My husband and I have backgrounds in branding, marketing and advertising and so we often discuss the motivation behind the ads our kids see; whether on billboards, in the mail or in the media.

Sadly, the majority of kids today are not only overly-exposed but practically bombarded with ads all day long. And without helpful guidance and insight, they’re left with desire and longing beyond what they young brains are able to comprehend.

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.”  1 John 2:17

A cashier at our local market whom I often chat with told me the one thing she always wished her parent’s would have taught her was how to save money.

Teaching money management is a huge missed opportunity and we’re doing our younger generations a disservice by merely skimming over it. Our kids live in a generation where paying with our phones using ambiguous digital numbers are just that – ambiguous digital numbers with zero meaning.

According to WHO the United States wins the third place title for the highest depression rate, also the highest anxiety and drug & alcohol abuse* – which I believe 100% correlates with US citizens also having some of the highest personal debt on the planet.

Shopping has never been easier. The short-lived dopamine spike we receive when we push a “buy” button is slowly erasing our lives and the money we worked hard to earn.

Retail Therapy really should be called Retail Demise. In many cases, when we’re not accountable for what we spend with someone else, “Retail Therapy” can quickly turn into Compulsory Buyer Disorder.

“Compulsive buying disorder (CBD) was first described clinically in the early 20th century by Bleuler, Kraepelin. Bleuler writes: “…buying maniacs (oniomaniacs) in whom even buying is compulsive and leads to senseless contraction of debts with continuous delay of payment until a catastrophe clears the situation a little – a little bit never altogether because they never admit to their debts'”

I feel we may have an advantage homeschooling because many of the families we interact with feel the same way about consumerism and therefore, peer pressure to buy the next best thing is almost nonexistent. But we’re definitely not immune by any means.

Teaching money management must start in the home with parents modeling. (We’re not always the best models, are we? I know I’m not! But, by God’s grace, we can work toward becoming better ones every day).


Jay Harrington from No Sidebar says, “There is a massive body of work in the field of behavioral psychology that suggests the “hedonic superiority” of experiential over material purchases. Put simply, the science proves that engaging in more experiences rather than acquiring more things makes us happier.”

So why do we continue to spend our hard-earned money gifting material items that only offer a short spurt of happiness? It’s because we get a temporary high from buying something, and thus shopping becomes a repetitive act.

But God created us to be able to make hard decisions. He gave us power over our minds by merely changing our thoughts, actions and thus our habits.

Let’s curb our impulses this holiday season together when shopping for each other and our kids. Here are a few ideas for gifts that could very well last a lifetime:

Travels & Adventures
Tickets to Events
Monthly Subscription Boxes
Donations to recipient’s favorite charity

If you still like splurging on shiny gifts and toys for the people in your life, keep in mind how shopping locally and ethically waterfalls down to the receiver. Giving something you saved to acquire or created yourself, in most cases, makes your gift that much more meaningful.

Even better? Give them a gift you found on one of your experiences so the gift has meaning and possibly, an awesome story behind it.

The Best Gift Ever? Make a new, fun memory together.

Our family will try to keep it to a few simple gifts this Christmas for our kids:

  • A gift they’ve wished for all year that contributes to a hobby
  • A gift for an adventure or experience from both mom & dad
  • Any small gifts from local businesses will contribute to encouraging their creativity
  • Money to donate to their charity of choice

Lastly, if we can’t stay away from Amazon, we’ll be sure to shop and give back at the same time through Smile.Amazon.com (my Smile.Amazon is set to Broken to Brave, my little nonprofit where we gift new, inspirational books to local children enduring hardship).

How will you be spending your hard-earned money this season?

With Love.

“… life does not consist in an abundance of possessions.” Luke 12:15


No Sidebar

US News: 10 most depressed countries 

5 thoughts on “Have Yourself a Minimal Holiday Season

  1. Jennifer Pepito says:

    I love this so much, Crystal. We went on a mission trip to Africa two years ago for Christmas, and saved for a pilgrimage to Assisi last year. We love living lean on the day to day, so that we can have experiences as a family or give to organizations we believe in. And we especially love the freedom that comes from living debt free.
    Thanks for sharing so much light.


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