How To Focus On Presence Rather Than Presents This Christmas

In a bid to reduce the stress and pressure we are trying to stay grounded in the midst this very chaotic and stressful time.

When I ask my five year old what Christmas means to him he automatically talks about how excited he is for Santa to arrive. Who could honestly blame him too. A very friendly man is about to deliver some toys and books to his living room. It's a massive novelty and he is full of excitement. However, in the midst of our conversations I have been trying to remind him that Christmas is a time about being together as a family.

"Presence not presents" has become a bit of a theme for my family this year. We've been chanting it for weeks now. We are still picking up gifts and doing the regular gifting traditions but we've loosened the belt a bit. In a bid to reduce the stress and pressure we are trying to stay grounded during this very chaotic and stressful time.

When it comes to gifting, I've tried to take the approach of experiences or events that will bring us together. I love the idea of having an excuse to spend time with the people I love. Myself and my husband have ditched presents this year and have decided to pick up tickets to a gig together. We might buy them now or in January but the focus will be on an event we will have to go to together. A gig has a specific date, time and format so we'll have to get organized and plan a date night together and I just love that.

I've done similar with other important people in my life. We've either decided to not gift and spend more time together or the gift has satisfied the theme of presence rather than presents. The reality is we all need less stuff and more time together.

I'll admit that I have had a few moments of panic. I've been tempted to do some "just in case" last minute shopping but I keep reminding myself that I've come this far and this year could change everything.

At this point the gifting is done. You might be reading this over the Christmas holidays and I hope that these tips will help you to focus a little more on the people in your life above the things.

  • Plan some family days out together. They can be completely cheap and cheerful because the important thing is spending quality time with the most important people in your life. Walking the dog with one of the kids on Christmas day is so simple in theory but it is a memory that you will both cherish for years to come. A little escapism from the madness of it all and some crisp fresh air to wake you up.
  • Talk to the kids about giving. Every second person will ask what they have received but encourage them to talk about the gifts they have given whether it's to family, siblings or charity. Highlighting the beauty of giving will help your children focus on how lucky they are to have all the fortunate people, opportunities and things in their life.
  • Suggest that some of the gifts/toys get put away for a couple of weeks so that there will be an exciting toy to play with when they go back to school. Having less toys/games in front of them will actually encourage them to play more and really soak up that experience. This will in turn encourage you to get involved in a more meaningful way.
  • Pick up the TV guide or check out the festive offerings on Netflix so you can plan some snuggly Christmas movie days. You are making life-long memories for your children.
  • Don't be afraid to say no. Agreeing to attend too many nights out, lunches and brunches might leave you short of time for your family and partner.
  • The house-work can wait. This precious time off work and school is surely worth more than clean floors and an empty washing basket. Get on the floor, do the puzzles and talk to your children because your time is the most valuable gift you can give them.


Tracey Quinn

Proud mum of two who got married on Don't Tell The Bride and had an accidental home-birth (loves a good story). She's passionate about breastfeeding, positive thinking & all things cosy.

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