Illustration by Sofia Bews.

Illustration by Sofia Bews.

DID YOU KNOW IT’S ABOUT TO BE THE HOLIDAYS??! Of course you know. Every store and commercial and magazine (*cough!*) and social media post wants to remind you that it’s now The Holiday Season. And capitalism wants you to feel pressure to buy everyone in your life a gift. Even if you don’t know them well enough to understand what they’d actually like. Even if you actively don’t want to give them a present. No wonder everyone gets so stressed about the holidays! No wonder what’s supposed to be a celebration can feel like a financial burden and chore! You’re supposed to buy presents, or else…

Or else what, my loves?

Or else…nothing.

Y’all: Nothing bad happens if you stop giving holiday presents.

I’ll never forget the first year I decided to Stop Doing Christmas Presents. I’d had enough. I was in my early 20s, broke (as in: not-enough-money-for-groceries broke), and I wanted to get off the consumerism train. I wanted to stop so much that I didn’t care if I received any presents at all (and I love presents!). I called my sister. “I am broke but I love you,” I said. “How about we don’t do presents this year and instead just know that we love each other?”

She was in her early 20s and broke too. She was so relieved, you guys. So relieved and so thrilled. This felt really good. We called our parents and did the same thing. “Hi guys,” I said into the phone. “I love you both, and I want to stop doing presents this year. Maybe forever. Please do not send me a present. I won’t send you presents. What do you think?” There was a brief pause, and then my mom said, “OK, let’s stop. Makes things easier—I don’t need anything anyway. Let’s send cards?”

I wrote them a card, and that was it. Did the same thing with my grandparents. I asked my BFF if she wanted to not do presents. Guess what? She was into the idea. I asked my girlfriend if she wanted to go out for a fancy dinner someday instead of buying big presents for each other. She chose the fancy dinner, which we saved up for and did when we could afford it.

And with that: The tyranny of holiday presents ended. Quietly, with no fuss. I did not miss it, and I’ve never looked back. Holidays now, for me, mean cookies and parties and fun quality time with people I love. There is no frenzied “shopping season” anymore, and at no point do I wonder if someone I am supposed to buy a gift for would like this $22 candle that smells like “Amber Cashmere.” I’m free, and not stressed, and financially stable throughout December. You can be, too!

Now, if you currently live with your family, and your family celebrates the holidays, your family might not agree to stop doing presents, and that’s OK. If you’re broke, DIY gifts have always lit up the faces of my loved ones. Also: The holidays are a major time to get things you really, really need or want for the entire year. Go presents! I’m just putting the no-gifts idea out there, for whenever—if ever—it’s time.

Gifts should be given out of love and a desire to give, not out of obligation. You don’t have to go broke every single December and stress yourself out over presents you feel pressured to buy—you have a say in your life! Capitalism does not own you. You get to choose how (or if) you want to celebrate the holidays, Rooks! ♦