why i don't buy gifts at the mall (& how less can be more)

We all know the scene-Christmas morning 6am, the kids wake up in a frenzy to unwrap the presents under the tree, rushing downstairs in their pajamas, tearing the paper off one gift they barely take the time to look at the present before searching out their next bit of loot. The aftermath looks like a department store threw up in the living room-plastic, tags and packaging everywhere. It’s all often so anti-climatic. Is your home like this on Christmas morning, do you enjoy it?

I am sure many people do love that type of chaos, but not our family! Beneath our tree (if we have one) are a few small, carefully chosen, often handmade gifts. They are nothing big or extravagant, nothing that will break the bank. Christmas morning we get up and have a lovely breakfast, then while Chris and I wake up over coffee Ila helps us each choose one thing. She loves to delegate and I think she gets as much joy seeing us open our gifts as she does opening her own. If I have taught her anything it is to take joy in small things. A pair of new socks from Nana makes her just as excited as a new toy. A box of crayons, a handmade doll- all get the same consideration. We take the time to open our gifts one at a time, to exclaim over them and hug the giver.

I refuse to stress over the holidays or gifts. I take my time, patiently crafting away or stealing time whenever I can to wander antique stores and second hand book shops, looking for the perfect thing. I do a lot of shopping at local craft fairs and on Etsy. I have so many favorite items that I have bookmarked for others. I simply love giving. I love giving food, time, love, and gifts that are an extension of my heart. I have never found anything at the mall that would bring me joy to give away-so I don’t go! No line ups, no stress, no overspending. I want my daughters to grow up inspired to give freely, from the heart, without obligation. I want them to learn that the biggest gift is so often the gifting, what you receive back is secondary, it is the act of giving is that really nourishes the soul.

I believe that less can be more, especially when it comes to gifts. Something small and handmade that suits me perfectly makes me a million times happier then a big, expensive gift I will never love. My favorite gift of all time, ever, is the picture above, drawn by my daughter. What is the most perfect gift you have ever given-or received?

While you are thinking on it, stop by our Oh My! Handmade Holidays giveaway and nominate up to 5 organizations in your area that are giving back in some way, for a chance to win one of two prize baskets filled with perfect handmade gifts.  Isn’t giving grand?


  1. heather says:

    this is effing brilliant. i also completely boycott the mall during the so-called “holidays” (even more than i usually do!). there’s really no point in openly criticizing the consumerism of our age if we’re not willing to actually DO anything to the contrary!
    i try to cook, bake, and sew as much as i can (imperfectly as always). and hibernate.
    but i do, as much of a scrooge as i sound most of the time these days, i do endeavour to let the light in…

  2. Growing up we never really received huge, expensive presents for Christmas so as a result, as adults my sisters and I value spending time together as a family with our Mum and now my husband and kids. That is our gift, being together. We actually used to impose a limit of £5 (about $8) and we each bought for one person but this year no-one has mentioned gifts except for me to say No Toys for my kids! Instead I love that they will be getting thrifted books, craft materials, thrifted items for a dress up box and clothes for the baby. My eldest is 2 and will be making a sugar scrub for his grandma and she’ll be getting photos of her grandkids. Means so much more than unnecessary stuff.

  3. Stephanie says:

    Lovely well written piece – The best present I ever received was an incredibly beautiful baby girl exactly a week before Christmas. All the other ones I’ve recived over the years have pretty much faded from memory.

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