Monday, May 29th, 2017

Home for the Scaled-Down Holidays


Last night I touched down in Massachusetts, where I will remain for the next 27 days.

As I wrote in my post about Christmas in Sihanoukville last year, I’m not a Christmas person.  After aging out of childhood, Christmas, to me, has been more about stress and greed and going broke than about joy and cheer, and for that reason, I’d be happy to avoid it altogether.

I don’t care about receiving gifts.  But I do care about not measuring up as a gift giver, so I end up spending far too much money on gifts that the recipients don’t actually end up using all that much.  As much as we pledge to keep things at a reasonable level each year, it never happens.

So when my dad suggested to my sister and me that we keep Christmas CHEAP this year, for REAL — like $20 per person cheap — I was relieved.  Being specific allowed us to actually stick to it.  I suggested the same thing to my mom, and Dave and I decided to opt out of gifts altogether (though we’ve been buying each other wacky things here and there over the past few weeks).

Let that be a lesson to you all — saying “Let’s keep things on the reasonable side” doesn’t work. Saying “Let’s stick to $20 per person” does work.

And the pressure is gone.

No mad dashes to pick up unique pieces jewelry, golf vouchers or restaurant gift cards.  No need to think of travel gift ideas, spa gift ideas, golf gift ideas or culinary gift ideas.  No spending of hundreds of dollars that I really can’t afford as a fledgling entrepreneur (not that I could afford it in my previous career, either).  The pressure is gone.

And the fact that all this gift pressure has been lifted off me makes me SO much more eager to actually celebrate the holidays!  (Except for Christmas music, that is.  Still can’t stand it, unless it involves one or more Muppets.)

So, on that note, I won’t be heading off for a Cambodian beach town this year, but will be bundling up for winter instead, staying the Boston area until the 9th of January (plus a quick visit to New York to see my sister).  Then back to the UK and back to Chester, and I have some very exciting travel plans for 2012.

I’m also thinking of putting together a meet-up at a bar in Boston — possibly on the Thursday after New Year’s — so lots of us from the Boston area can meet up, get some dollar beers, make new friends, and talk about travel!

And the last part — I’m still selling travel calendars.  I finally got to see the finished product, as my mom bought three of them, and they look FANTASTIC.  Especially the Jordan one.

So I’ll be here in Boston for the next few weeks.  And that’s not a bad thing at all.

Have you managed to successfully scale-down holiday plans?  I’d love to hear from you!


31 Responses to “Home for the Scaled-Down Holidays”
  1. Hey Kate! We have scaled back Christmas tremendously- we do one silly white elephant gift exchange- and I LOVE CHRISTMAS NOW. I can actually enjoy it. My husband and I do a one gift exchange between each other, but that’s always fun and exciting. I DESPISE the holiday madness- buying gifts for EVERYONE. It sucks.

  2. jill says:

    Christmas is Joy, Peace and Love. The holiday has lost it’s true meaning. I was trying to decide if I should spend $1,000 or $10,000 on each of my wonderful niece’s but decided $25.00 was a little more affordable. I purchased Christmas music for them both which I hope they enjoy as much as I do. I’m singing my favorite tune “I’ll be home for Christmas” everyday from now till the 25th. i most enjoy belting it out in the morning. The only downer is when mother nature forgets the snow. So get in the spirit because it’s coming your way.

  3. I can’t agree more. I think travel has made me realize how much all the crap I would give and receive doesn’t matter, because when you’re on the road-it really doesn’t. Something small and meaningful to show you care is what really matters. I’m celebrating this Christmas abroad and I think it may just end up being me and my man, cause everyone is leaving the city-roommates and all. We’re both saving up for a trip, so instead of buying gifts specifically for eachhother-we just wrapped things we needed for the trip anyway haha. It’ll be fun to open I think! Have a good one. Stay warm.

  4. Ashley says:

    Love this! We decided to do only stocking stuffers this year, mostly because we’re paying so much to travel back to be with each other. A few years ago, my family agreed to a home-made Christmas, and while it was possibly the most stressful Christmas I’ve ever prepared for (I don’t consider myself to be nearly crafty enough for that!), it was by far the most memorable we’ve ever had. Even my dad got involved, which is rare 🙂 I treasure every one of those gifts. Give it a try next year!

  5. Colleen says:

    I think for me, the one thing that makes Christmas special is A) Going to Christmas Eve Candlelight Service and B) Hanging out with my family in our pjs on Christmas morning. Presents or no presents, that is really all that matters – family, and remembering why I celebrate that day. Enjoy yours!

  6. Kjersti says:

    Hi Kate, I couldn’t agree more! IThis is the first year that I have successfully managed to get my family to cut down on the presents – we ended up picking a name out of a hat, so everyone gets only 1 gift. It’s perfect! The only reason people are agreeing to this though, is that I am leaving with only a backpack on New Year’s Eve, so any gift I received would anyway get thrown away..

    I hope people get inspired by your post and cut back on the crazy money-spending during Christmas! And the ‘pick a name out of a hat’ thing works very well, I recommend it.

  7. My family brought me home for my Christmas present this year and that was all I really wanted. (Home to Massachusetts too I might add!) I’m bringing them some Spanish goodies, but that’s all I can afford. I’ve come to like Christmas more as an expat, because it’s a time I really appreciate my family! I’m lucky my family isn’t too materialistic so they don’t care about not receiving any wild gifts.

  8. I’m kinda obsessed with giving presents. It’s one of my most favorite things to do. I’m sure your family is so happy to have you home!!!

  9. We’ve gone to giving the kids one little present everyday from Christmas to New Year’s. I think we spend a total of $20-30. Opening up a plethora of gifts in one sitting is overwhelming and doesn’t allow the kids to actually play with the new stuff they got. So our method works really well for us.

    For us adults…we give experiences instead…like an adventurous cave tubing tour or other excursion trip of wherever we are living.

  10. Adela and I have decided on the no presents rule this year. No point I guess in lugging a present all the way to Egypt anyway! Mum and Dad never expect anything while we are travelling either so it is ideal. Only problem is I get no presents too.

  11. Nicole says:

    My family manage to escape the present trap by flying somewhere on Christmas day. Not only is there plenty of cheap flights (because everyone wants to be celebrating not hanging around airports) but it means we can get away with the $20 to the cousins and a bottle of Baileys to my Nan.

    It also means my sister and I get money to explore the city and we can generally get away with buying Mum some duty-free perfume and Dad some cologne. Simple.

    Hope you enjoy being home and maybe catch you in the UK – I’ll be there from around the 3rd of Jan so hopefully we cross paths. =)

  12. Our extended family does a $10 gift exchange every year. Makes it so easy and you only have to buy 1 instead of 10 gifts…

  13. Jen says:

    Welcome back to Boston, Kate! Please keep me on the list for the meet-up! I am down in RI, but I am definitely close enough to grab a few drinks in the city (I also work in Quincy, so it’s not that far). It would be wonderful to finally meet you after reading about all of your adventures!

    Merry Christmas! May the true meaning shine bright for you and your family this year.

  14. Nasstaja says:

    Christmas sould be what you make of it. As long as you have fun!

  15. Rachel says:

    I agree, and as travellers lots of times I feel pressured to (or I want to) buy gifts for everyone who I will be seeing over the holidays from whatever new place I have travelled to! Then I feel guilty if I don’t manage to get gifts for everyone. Although I am suer most of this is just brought on by myself, I still feel bad! But I do love time spent with family and friends and I try to remember that’s what the holidays are about! Enjoy your time at home!

  16. William says:

    Hi Kate,

    Just found your site from a FB link from Never Ending Footsteps ( she IS hiliarious) and this post really struck a chord with me too. We, as a family, don’t buy gifts at all for each other. If we want to do something, we make it. It lets us just enjoy the season and each others company, without all the other crap, stress, and commericalism.

    look forward to following your blog and adventures!


  17. I hope you enjoy being home without the pressure – I can totally relate as I was stressed by the shopping this year. Although I have to admit I’m sad to read that you’re not in the UK, since I’m currently in Cheshire and was going to get in touch if we looked like making it into Chester for a day!

  18. Lauren says:

    Would love to meet up! Send me an email! We are at the tail-end of our extended honeymoon!
    Lauren in Hong Kong

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