I'm not sure if it's just the circles I'm in or part of a general trend, but I've seen and heard a lot this year about foregoing gift exchanges with other adults. And I definitely understand many of the arguments against doing gifts, and sometimes agree! Often time it focuses on two components of the money side: going over budget and into debt, and overpaying/overvaluing what you're giving to someone compared to what the recipient values it.
But I think there are some benefits to - simply, conscientiously, within budget - giving gifts to family friends.
1. I love the feeling of joy (accomplishment?) at finding a gift that the recipient just loves! Don't get me wrong, I get totally stressed out and anxious in the process! But when I get the perfect thing and can see that I got it just right? Amazing.
2. One reason I've seen for gifts is that people might find something you never even knew I needed - rebuked, of course, especially in minimalist circles, that if you didn't know you needed it, dude, you really don't need it.
But - gifts aren't about what you need. I do aim for minimalism in general, but that doesn't mean I don't keep things that are merely wants, because they make me happy. There can definitely be something I didn't know existed that would make me happy if I had it. (And most likely, I'll get rid of something I needed but didn't really like to keep the new want.)
3. As a solution to wasting money on gifts that the recipients might not want, I've seen articles recommend relying on cash and gift cards - everyone loves those, right? And sure, picking out the right gift card shows some attentiveness to the recipient. But to me, that just makes it all about exchanging cash. At least when you give actual things, there's a facade that it's more than just a quid pro quo! What's the point of exchanging $25 gift cards with you? I'd rather you put the thought into seeking something that you think I'll love, even if it risks you missing the mark slightly.
4. I say this next point with caveats: Giving gifts provides you a chance to impose your values on your loved ones. Now, this can definitely be done the "wrong" way! I have one relative who basically focuses on something they currently consider important or relevant each year, and then gives the same or a variation of the same gift to everyone for Christmas, regardless of whether everyone would want or could use it. Don't do that.
But, for example, if you know someone loves makeup, and you can find a vegan product that's comparable in quality to their favorite - maybe it's worth introducing it to them. And they might love it and start supporting a company that happens to be vegan.
5. Along similar lines, when you have children, giving gifts to other people provides and opportunity to showcase your values. Show generosity by sharing your resources. Show responsibility by giving gifts in keeping with your lifestyle, rather than going into debt. Buy locally, buy plastic-free, buy used, buy vegan.
Linking up today with Fairytales and Fitness and Running on Happy for Friday Five 2.0.