How to Have a Special Christmas Day Without Gifts

A reader asks:

Thinking about Christmas this year and I’m trying to minimize as much as possible. Growing up, christmas was spent in a pile of presents. Since my kids won’t necessarily have that, do you have suggestions of traditions and activities for Christmas Day that will make memories and help us to not miss those wrapping-filled Christmas mornings?

Good news! Christmas doesn’t have to be about gifts.How to have a special Christmas Day without material gifts
It’s about spending time with those we love. There are families that have even given up gift-giving altogether and have made it a day of celebrating relationships.
To not have gifts, Christmas day may look like this:

  • Wake up, enjoy a favorite breakfast together.
  • Pull out some paper and scissors and cut out snowflakes- hang them on the tree or in the windows.
  • Build your own pizza for lunch, everyone’s in the kitchen.
  • Play a game of monopoly, put a puzzle together to build a Lego castle.
  • Eat a picnic dinner of finger foods on the living room floor.
  • Light a candle, turn out the lights and sing Christmas carols.

To get the holidays that  we all really long for:

  1. Turn Off The Electronic Devices. I know this is hard, especially if there are sports fans and there is always a game going. Kids really want to spend time with their parents, they don’t want to share them with electronic devices. So turn off the phones, close up the TV cabinet and just be present. A nervous twitch might appear with severe addicts- don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal and they’ll live through it. 😉
  2. Play A Game. It’s simple, and I know many adults don’t enjoy playing board games and card games, but kids need to have that interaction and they need to see their parents having fun. This really can be any number of things, as long as it’s a game. If you really truly can’t stand “games”, try a puzzle, or build a structure with blocks.
  3. Cook Together. You can have the kids help with breakfast and start the day with a fruit candy cane. Christmas dinner doesn’t have to be a turkey or ham- you can have a build-your-own-pizza party, it’s a fun activity, and it’s great to do it when you have a full day that is not rushed.
  4. Have a Craft Time. Kids need to see adults having fun and being creative. Why not sit around and cut out snowflakes? Or make some paper chain people?
  5. Be Together. For little ones- read books together, color a picture, listen to their stories. For older kids, play Risk or Monopoly, teach them how to bake a pie, play mad libs.

Kids are always trying to talk to us, truly listening is a wonderful gift.

What if you weren’t home on Christmas Day?

There is also a growing number of families who no longer spend Christmas at home doing “traditional” Christmas things. Instead, they use that winter break to vacation and experience things with their family. The holidays are spent playing in the warm sands of a tropical beach, or swimming in a motel swimming pool and sightseeing.
You can make your days special without opening gifts. Your children can grow up with Christmas meaning fun, exploration and time together as a family.

How to Have a Special Christmas Day Without Gifts

About Rachel Jones

Hi there! I’m Rachel Jones, and I founded Nourishing Minimalism in 2012 at the beginning of my minimalist journey. If you're looking for encouragement in your journey, I created a FREE Facebook Group - feel free to join me there: Nourishing Minimalism Facebook Group and I share videos each week on YouTube


  1. Eden on 12/17/2018 at 2:58 am

    Thank you we are going to do some of these on Christmas ☺❄⛄🎅🎄 merry Christmas

  2. Bonnie on 12/08/2019 at 5:10 pm

    Maybe go to church or participate in a Sunday School Christmas pageant? After all do people know why Christmas is celebrated? To many minimalists forget about their faith aspect, or never grew up with it. They know something is missing, so they gift experiences to find what is missing in their life.

    • Margret on 12/19/2021 at 9:06 pm

      Christmas was stolen from pagans so no. Not many know what the true “faith” aspect is of it.
      Christ wasn’t born in the winter if you study anything astronomy the placing of the stars would tell you about the earths rotation and where it sat and in what season it was. Christmas came from Yule. Those logs in the fireplace you burn for Christmas? Yule logs. The trees you decorate are a pagan tradition. Wreaths are pagan traditions. Yule is to celebrate the winter solstice and to be thankful for the earths things it provides and to give back to the earth.

  3. […] we can be fully onboard with changing up Christmas, going toy-free, or maybe even no-gifts at all, but Grandma and Grandpa might not be excited about these changes. Check out these articles to help […]

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