It is a hard thing not to spend during the holiday season. I've noticed that every year though the news media report the same types of stories throughout November, December and January. We can always count on a pre-Thanksgiving story about how retailers are hopeful that consumers will, well, consume this year and that year end figures will be good. "Good citizens" know that buying things will help the economy and the new media join in with the advertisers to let us know that we will surely miss out if we don't shop on Black Friday. We see pictures of folks lined up in the cold and dark to save a few dollars. Throughout December we are reminded that the retailers are "disappointed" (in us?) Then inevitably will be the January stories about how many people are maxed out on credit cards and we need to be more careful about our own spending.
I stopped (most) Christmas shopping years ago. Children (my daughter, and nieces and nephews) are the only ones on my list any more. My husband and I decided long ago that if there was something we wanted that we could afford we would simply buy it for ourselves and not worry about trying to find the right present during "gift giving" occasions. Some may find this unromantic, but it is not. Unromantic is buying a last minute gift that your partner won't use. We realize also that we give each other gifts of ourselves every day when we cook dinner, take out the trash, drive the carpool, and do the dishes. Acknowledging these gifts is an especially romantic gesture. They are things that are too easily taken for granted. As far as the rest of my family is concerned, well, they got over the fact that I don't buy them gifts. And when they realized they were off the hook for getting me anything they were happy to let the whole thing go. There were a few who seemed steamed over the fact that I didn't get them anything, even though I was up front about it, and told them not to get me anything either. I can understand that they didn't believe I was serious, and it only took one holiday season for them to see that I was.
For more ideas on simplifying the holidays see this website from the Center for the New American Dream.