The Aussies who aren’t giving gifts this Christmas

Who are these kill-joys that have given up Christmas presents like it’s actually an option?

Well, the sad news (for me) is that I married one.

Three years ago, fed up with the pointless trading of Bunnings/massage/clothing/department store vouchers, he decided he’d boycott the whole thing.


So since then, it’s a present free Christmas. He’s managed to get his family on board and it’s made the day and the lead up, which involves interstate travel, surprisingly relaxing.

I’m not recommending going present free – my family still gives gifts. Giving presents to people you care about is a lovely way to show you care.

But last year, the Reserve Bank of Australia found we borrowed $29 billion to get through December. Broken down that means $1727 per credit card.

That’s a lot.

And according to our friends at Finder:

– The average Aussie spends $464 on gifts at Christmas
– Women spend more on gifts ($496) than men ($432)
– 14 million Aussies plan to cut down their spend this Christmas. Of that number, 15% plan to do this by avoiding gifts altogether and 13% plan to regift.

We spoke to (less extreme) people for their tips on how to navigate Christmas without the overspend and without turning into the Grinch.

Give a little, get a lot

This year, Rosie’s family, cut their limit down to $15 a present in their Secret Santa. Rather than rising with inflation, it means that everyone gets a little gift, but it suits everyone’s budget .

“We don’t think getting smaller gifts will change the day, in fact, the limit means we got rid of lists and everyone has to be a bit more thoughtful and creative about what they do,” Rosie says.

Experience over stuff


Author Lisa Cox puts money she would have spent at Christmas into a travel account.

“My family have been ok with the no gifts protocol and (unfortunately) they haven’t done the same,” Lisa says.

“My husband and I rarely exchange tangible gifts and just put money into a travel account. Experiences over stuff is our rule most of the time.

“I don’t mind buying gifts if I know of something good to get (for a milestone birthday or if they really want it) but generally speaking, the idea of getting and receiving tangible ‘stuff’ for the sake of it makes me uncomfortable. We shouldn’t need stuff to be happy at Christmas (or any time of year).”

The art of re-gifting

Harrison says his family have flipped the taboo of re-gifting on its head and will only give items they already have but have never used.

“It could go very wrong, but so often it works out really well. Plus we’re not adding to the millions of dollars of unwanted gifts people get every year.”

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