Is it possible to have a happy, satisfying holiday without a tree, tinsel and presents? A lot of people are saying YES! It’s a new backlash against the commercialism of the holidays, with more and more people saying: “I don’t want to go into debt buying gifts,” “I can’t make a picture-perfect Martha Stewart moment,” and “I’m tired of being stressed out over it!”

It’s a growing movement based on simplicity, and it’s spearheaded by The Center for a New American Dream, which is a group that works to promote quality of life. When they surveyed thousands of people over the summer, 4-out-of-5 said “society is too focused on shopping and spending,” and they’re looking for ways to simplify their life.

But money is a huge factor, too, because debt equals stress. And a fourth of the people surveyed said it takes them a full 10 months to pay off their credit card debt from the holidays. That means you’ll still be paying next October for what you bought this December! Dr. Juliet Schor, a professor of sociology at Boston University, says that’s because people, especially parents, believe that lots of gifts means lots of love. But that’s just not true. In fact, studies show that kids who get caught up in the whole spending ‘gimme-gimme’ frenzy are more depressed, anxious, get more headaches, stomach aches, and have lower self-esteem.

So what can you do? Spend less money on family and friends, and instead give your time. Because after the holidays you should feel refreshed and connected to the ones you love, not overwhelmed by debt and Christmas chaos. If you’d like to know more about the Center for the New American Dream, go to NewDream.org.

Comment on this story