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The Minimalists
The Minimalists are Emmy-nominated Netflix stars and New York Times–bestselling authors Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus. Alongside their podcast cohost, T.K. Coleman, this simple-living trio helps millions of people eliminate clutter and live meaningfully with less. Learn More.

Gift Love: Save $776 on Christmas Shopping This Year

The average American will spend $776 on Christmas presents this year. Many of these so-called “gifts” people don’t want or need or even care to receive.

That’s why I’m opting out of the whole thing.

Sure, I’ll still attend holiday events and show my love in myriad ways, but not with material gifts.

We’ve been taught—conditioned—to believe gift-giving is a superior way to show our love for one another, that gift-giving is one of our “love languages.” When you think about it, though, we realize how ridiculous it is to commodify love, and yet we treat it as gospel: I love you, so here’s this expensive shiny thing I bought.

Gift-giving is not a love language any more than Pig Latin is a Romance language. Rather, material gift-giving is a pernicious cultural imperative, and we’ve bought it (literally bought it) hook, line, and sinker. We’ve become consumers of love.

The grotesque idea that we can somehow purchase love is nauseating and potentially dangerous. We often give gifts to show our love because we are troubled by real love. Gift-giving is, by definition, transactional. But love is not a transaction. Love is transcendent: it transcends language and material possessions, and it can be shown only by our thoughts, actions, and intentions.

So, instead, I’ll gift experiences this year. And I’ll gift my time. But I’ll save six hundred bucks in the process, and I’ll feel better about how I show my love. Care to join me? Together we can make it a more meaningful holiday season.