In Support of a Minimalist Holiday


I guess it started even before Finn, my 22-year-old, was born. My sisters and I agreed to put our holiday budgets towards buying things for our parents that they needed rather than gifts for each other. One year it was a new mattress, one year a dryer, it was utilitarian, but it worked for us. Once I had Finn, I bought presents for them until they were 7. That year was different because my Mom died and Finn’s dad and I divorced. Finn wanted to meet one of my sisters in NYC to do the type of holiday activities that my Mom would have loved and we agreed that the trip would be their “big” present. That is where our love for “experience” presents began.

Over the years we have gifted each other experiences that I will always treasure. For Finn’s 16th birthday I scored tickets to Hamilton (only because the theatre happened to release a new batch- no way I could have paid the re-sale costs). Broadway shows, plane tickets and trips were our favorite experiences when we could afford them. The less extravagant experiences like touring the Duke Lemur Center or dinner at a favorite restaurant were still very fun and meaningful.

This year we are taking our minimalism even further. Finn and their spouse are both in graduate school (i.e., broke) and I recently spent a good chunk of money on their wedding. We all agreed that we would celebrate by doing nice things for each other rather than purchasing experiences or gifts. I will make a dinner with all of their favorite foods. We will slow down enough to watch our favorite holiday movies and to drive around and look at holiday lights. We will enjoy spending time together without the stress of spending money that we don’t have on things that we don’t need.

For my family, this feels like a great way to take care of ourselves and each other this year. No matter how or what you celebrate, I hope you will also find a way to take care of yourself and your loved ones during this holiday season. Will you comment below and share your ideas for a peaceful and joyful holiday?


About Author

Lisa Allred

Work Life Program Manager

Lisa Allred comes to SAS with a long history of working with families throughout the lifespan. After receiving her undergraduate degree at Wake Forest Universtity and her Masters in Social Work from UNC-CH, her career began as a child therapist focusing on parenting, anxiety and trauma. She then moved into college counseling where she emphasized student wellness and balance.

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