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Slightly blurry picture of holiday lights

Gift Time, Not Stuff

The holidays are a time of giving; we give each other gifts, we give to the less fortunate, and we give our loved ones our time to celebrate and give thanks. All of this means, however, that Americans are spending a lot of money. Here are some holiday spending facts:

  • Holiday sales (including cars, gasoline, and restaurants) are expected to exceed $1 trillion.
  • The average American will spend about $800 dollars on gifts this year.
  • The average American family will donate approximately $244 this holiday season.
  • UPS alone is expected to deliver 750 million packages.
  • The average American will travel 270 miles for the holidays.
A present wrapped in white paper with pinecone/pine leaves as the bow

The holidays are a time for giving thanks and celebration.

The pressure of giving gifts and the increase in spending can make the holidays very stressful for many Americans. It does not have to be this way though. The most valuable thing each of us has to offer is our time. So instead of getting your family gifts, try and spend some quality time together. An excellent way to accomplish this is by donating your time to a great cause. Volunteering not only helps those in need, it can also strengthen relationships between you and your loved ones and saves you money.

A close up of a set table with wine glasses, cookies, and utensils

Spending quality time with your loved ones can be more rewarding than buying gifts.

Of course gift giving is an excellent way to express your love for someone so if you still want to give gifts, try doing a “Secret Santa” or “White Elephant” gift exchange instead. Both of these types of exchanges lessen the amount of money that has to be spent on gifts and everyone still receives a present. This is especially helpful in large families and can relieve some of the financial burden therefore lessening stress during the holidays. You can easily make or buy very thoughtful gifts for your loved ones without breaking the bank.

The holiday season is not about how much stuff you buy or get, it is about celebrating and being thankful for family, friends, coworkers, etc. A great Christmas gift does not have to have a hefty price tag to be valuable. Doing something together as a group, like volunteering, strengthens bonds not only amongst your loved ones, but the greater community as well.


contributed by Trevor Ackerman, Sustainability Program Assistant