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The Minimalists The Minimalists
Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus help over 20 million people live meaningful lives with less through their website, books, podcast, and documentary. The Minimalists have been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, TIME, ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, BBC, and NPR.

Ideas for a Debt-Free Christmas

According to CNBC, 28% of shoppers are still in debt from last year’s Christmas shopping. Nonetheless, the average shopper plans on spending $776 on gifts this holiday season—a nearly 50% increase from just four years ago.

What the hell is wrong with us? We’re spending money we don’t have to buy gifts we don’t need for people who don’t want them.

With the “help” of retailers creating a false sense of urgency, we’ve whipped ourselves into a frenzy. So, instead of pausing to ponder our impulses, we double down—we lean into the tug of consumerism, attempting to commodify love one purchase at a time.

Over time, we’ve turned “the most wonderful time of the year” into the most stressful time of year. But if we’re stressed out, perhaps we’re celebrating the holidays incorrectly.

Of course, we needn’t Grinch our Christmases to save our bank accounts and our sanity. It is possible to spend less money and still enjoy a more meaningful holiday season.

Gift Experiences

To start, we can gift experiences instead of stuff. We asked our friends and family for some of their favorite free or inexpensive adventures:

Sunsets.
Theater.
Beaches.
Concerts.
Festivals.
Hayrides.
Massages.
Museums.
Art walks.
Road trips.
Babysitting.
Yoga classes.
Cryotherapy.
Rock climbing.
Holiday lights.
Sporting events.
Meditation retreat.
Russian bathhouse.
Christmas-tree hunting.

Gift Consumables

If gifting a physical gift is required, thoughtful consumables are a welcome alternative to material trinkets:

Books.
Wine.
Coffee.
Chocolate.
Craft beer.
Essential oils.
Artisanal cheese.
Home-cooked meals.
Anything homemade.

Gift Charitable Donations

Better yet, if your friends and family already have everything they need, consider buying them a charity brick! They’ll appreciate it more than the scented candles, stale fruitcakes, and holiday-themed socks that other people got for them.