How to put 'nothing' on your Christmas list this season

Nothing brings out our collective shopping ineptitude more than the Christmas season.

If you would rather receive a lump of coal than yet another "what's it for?" gift from your loved ones, you are not alone.

From ugly argyle sweaters to unsettling novelty gifts, there are a lot of crappy presents given over the holidays.

Is there a way to tactfully ask for nothing this Christmas?

It's not easy to say no to a gift, admits Kristie Demke an Edmonton-based professional organizer, who is encouraging people cut down on the clutter this Christmas.

An increasing number of her clients want to cut down on the amount of stuff they get over the holidays, but many worry that cutting down on gift-giving will cause family infighting.

'We don't want to rock the boat'

Demke has some tips on how to gracefully bow out of annual holiday gifting.

"Part of it is tradition. We're used to doing this. It's part of the 'feel good' of the holidays," Demke said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM. "We don't want to rock the boat.

"The time to say 'no' to a gift is not when it's given to you on Christmas Day, it's time to have that conversation now."

Those looking to have a more minimalist Christmas, should pitch the idea to their family well before the holiday shopping frenzy begins, Demke recommends.

Asking for "experiences," rather than gifts is the best way to broach this potentially touchy subject. Think about starting a new family tradition.

"Have a conversation with your loved ones about what you want to be doing this Christmas," Demke said.

"Do you want it to be about the shopping, the gifts, the unwrapping, the tears and the returns after Christmas? Or do you want it to be about being together and having fun, baking and skating and that kind of thing."

When presented with a unwanted gift, be gracious and discreet. Such items can be re-gifted, donated or returned, she said.

If your children receive a gluttony of gifts, store them and bring them out after the lustre of Christmas wears off, Demke said.

'It's just stuff'

It can be difficult for parents to manage their kids expectations, she said.

Parents planning to leave fewer gifts under the tree should ensure their children know that Christmas is about more than "stuff," and give them a little warning.

Parents who wait until Christmas morning, might be setting their children up for a meltdown.

"You don't want them looking around, wondering why they got four gifts this year, when they got 44 last year," she said.

"Make sure they know that your holiday traditions don't revolve around what you're getting but what you're doing, the time you're spending together."

No matter how many gifts may be rejected this holiday season, there is no reason to feel like the Grinch.

"Because you give something away or get rid of it doesn't mean you hold the person who gave it you in any less esteem at all. Those two things are separate, the feelings and the item.

"It's just stuff."

Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.

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