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All I Want for Christmas Is ...

By HERWriter
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what do you want for Christmas? Auremar/PhotoSpin

Gift buying and gift giving have always been a central part of the holiday season but they don't have to be if you don't want them to.

There are a number of reasons some folks decide not to exchange presents, or choose to cut back on the whole scene.

Tired of the hassle and the expense? Got a house overflowing with more toys than your kids will ever play with? Maybe you'd like to move away from the materialism that can come with the season.

It's okay to spend less money on gifts.

One possible alternative would be to draw names rather than buying for everyone in the family. Making dinner the focal point rather than presents is another shift that can allow for a more relaxed, enjoyable holiday experience.

Homemade gifts can show love as well as or better than something bought from a store. A sweater that took months to knit or a quilt that you've worked on all year has love in every stitch. (Please note, if you're not very good at knitting or quilting, this may not be your best choice.)

Maybe you are thinking about those in need, especially at this time of year.

There are plenty of good charities that are at work during the holiday season, collecting new or good-as-new toys, winter coats, hats and mitts for children. Some have drop-off spots, others offer a pickup service.

Food banks and soup kitchens are looking for donations and volunteers to help spread the love. Donate food, money, or your time, or all of the above.

Or maybe you're in need yourself.

Some people are new to living on a tiny budget, having been laid off or downsized to part-time work. It can be tough to try to keep up with what you used to do in terms of buying gifts, and splashing out on holiday goodies, decorations and activities.

Cut yourself some slack, and remember that whether the limitations are short or long term, the most important thing you bring to the Christmas table is you, not what you can buy.

For others, trying to make ends meet is an ongoing struggle, made worse this time of year because of heating costs, and the pressures of trying to provide Christmas for their children.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.