Here they come to ask me if I want to do the gift exchange this year. Should I say something??? I didn’t want to do the gift exchange last year, but I didn’t want to be the only weirdo not doing it…will people think I’m a jerk? Or cheap? Will I ruin the holiday spirit for everyone? It’s only $20…but then $20 for the other one and $50 for the other one…I’m going to be broke again this year!
If you’d like to opt out of gift exchanges this year, please remember this: If you want out, you aren’t the only one! Most likely a few other people would like to skip it, too, but just haven’t said anything. So speak up, they will be glad you did!
The good news? Once you opt out of one, the next one is easier and the third is a piece of cake, and by next year you’ll have it down to a science!
But what do I say???
Whether on the phone, in person or through an email, text or Facebook message, here are five proven ways to opt out of gift exchanges with friends, family and co-workers. Note: I’m usually a proponent of face-to-face communication, but in this case, fire away that email! I know the guilt associated with excessive gift giving, so do whatever you need to do to opt out of gift exchanges you don’t want to be apart of!.
5 Effective Phrases to Opt Out of Holiday Gift Exchanges
- Helping a family in need: “I know we do this exchange every year, but this year we’ve decided to try and help this family that isn’t able to buy any gifts for their own kids. We’re going to funnel as much of our Holiday budget that way as possible.”
- Saving for a Vacation: “Thanks for thinking to include us, I’ve enjoyed our gift exchange in the past, but we’ve never been on a really great vacation. This year we’re going to cut back on gift-giving so we can save for a trip.” -or- “now that the kids are getting a little older, we’re really starting to appreciate our vacations away together. Will you understand if I skip the exchange this year so that we can save money for a vacation?”
- My Husband (boyfriend, sister, mom) Bet Me: “I’m sorry, I won’t be able to do a gift exchange this year, my *husband knows how much I like to shop and buy Christmas gifts so he bet me that I couldn’t stick to just immediate family. You understand, of course I have to prove him wrong!” (*insert significant person in your life.)
- Remembering the true meaning of the season: “Are you like me? Do you feel like you spent so much time Christmas shopping and worrying about what to get everyone that you didn’t even get to enjoy the season last year? I was thinking of cutting back this year.” -or- “You know, we’ve been noticing that our kids are focusing more on gifts than the real reason for this season, so we’re trying to help them appreciate it more. But that also means that Tom and I should probably focus on gifts a little less, too, so we’ve decided as a family to stick to just a few gifts.”
- The New Tradition: “You know, I’ve always enjoyed our gift exchanges, you always seem to know exactly what I would like, but could we think about starting a new tradition this year? There are so many great Holiday themed events this time of year, could we go to one together? Or even a lunch date at that place we’ve been wanting to check out, I’d really look forward to that.”
- …and of course, then there is just the good old fashion truth: “Christmas has gotten out of control and I want to reign it back in. So I’m not going to spend the next four weeks trying to find the perfect gift for every person that I know only to be asked if I have the gift receipt. Not to mention, having to go in debt for that gift that you may or may not like and probably won’t ever actually use. So let’s skip it this year, okay?“
A few other tips:
- Try to get to the organizer first: If the same person organizes the gift exchange every year, talk with them first before you’re being asked to put your name in the hat.
- Hold your ground: There may be a person who pushes back against your decision, unfortunately this is to be expected, but hold your ground! You’ve made this decision for a reason, most likely it is what is best for you (and your family) right now. This will blow over and something else will take center stage before long.
- There is always next year: …and it will be here before we know it! If you don’t win every battle this year, just do your best and plan to make more ground next year. I read about a family who had a four-year plan for phasing out gift giving, perfection is not required!
We know this isn’t always easy, but it is worth it! Saving time, stress AND money is a big reward for a few potentially awkward conversations. And remember, afterwards, other people will probably thank you for being brave enough to challenge status quo, you aren’t the only one feeling overwhelmed at the thought of Christmas!
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