5 Reasons Why You Really Don't Need to Give Gifts This Year—or Feel Guilty About It

2020 will continue to be weird throughout the holidays

person writing a handmade christmas card

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Usually the holiday season is filled with lots of fun get-togethers and gift exchanges. Because of the pandemic, this year things are looking a bit different.

While many people usually use this time to start buying presents for their friends and loved ones, giving gifts this year may not be in the cards for everyone. And it’s fine. While we’ve all weathered the storm together this year, not everyone has been in the same boat. Some people have lost their jobs or lost loved ones. Some have been isolated from family members while others have had to move back into their childhood homes to save money. 

And while it may seem like you have to give gifts this year because that's the norm, remember that 2020 is in no way, shape, or form normal, so gift-giving won't be either. People will understand that it may not be in your budget or you may not feel comfortable exchanging gifts. We spoke with experts to find out why it's really OK not to give presents this year.

You're Worried About Cleanliness 

“For safety, you may not want to give gifts this year," said Dr. Giuseppe Aragona, of PrescriptionDoctor.com. "The idea of bringing in a gift that has not been cleaned before getting to you may seem like a very scary prospect, especially for those people who are more vulnerable to the virus.

"If you just want to focus on your family this year and not make it about presents, do not feel guilty about that at all. The world is trying to heal from a problem that is still ongoing, so if the Christmas spirit has not hit you yet, that is completely fine,” Dr. Aragona said.

Finances Have Been Drastically Affected

Unemployment is high which means that many people have not been earning as much. This means that budgets have changed and what someone could have budgeted for the holidays last year could be cut in half this year.

“Everyone is in a different position when it comes to their finances. With the amount of job losses and hours cut for families, gifts this year just may not be the top priority at the moment," said Lucas Robinson, the Chief Marketing Officer of Crediful. "People will need to have to focus on their rent or mortgage, and not something that may be forgotten about next year. You do not have to feel guilt about this, as everyone is feeling the strain too.”

It’s Not Great for the Environment

The holidays create a lot of unnecessary waste. According to Stanford University (via use-less-stuff.com), Americans throw away 25% more trash during the Thanksgiving to New Year's holiday period than any other time of year. The extra waste amounts to 25 million tons of garbage, or about 1 million extra tons per week.

The Stanford site goes on to outline what we can to reduce waste. For example:

  • If every family reused just two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet.
  • If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields.
  • The 2.65 billion Christmas cards sold each year in the U.S. could fill a football field 10 stories high. If we each sent one card less, we’d save 50,000 cubic yards of paper.

People Understand

2020 has been tough in some way or another for just about everyone. The pandemic has forced most people to reevaluate their priorities—everything from their happiness in their career path to how they interact with their children. So, when faced with making decisions, often things that once were important no longer are. And some people are coming around to this way of thinking.

A Little Goes a Long Way

Spending a ton of money on an expensive gift for everyone you know and love is unnecessary, pandemic or not. Instead why not get crafty and make handmade cards or even send off a festive email. You could even give someone a call on the actual phone to wish them well.

If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that personal connection matters and the littlest thing could make a huge difference to someone. It’s so simple to spread some cheer without spending money.