Some Montrealers are going gift-free this holiday season – will you?
MONTREAL -- The holiday season is typically all about the music, the bright, festive decorations and, of course, the gifts.
But, an increasing number of Montrealers are choosing to go gift-free for a variety of reasons: to curb consumerism, save the environment or simply because there’s nothing they really need or want.
Some say they are only giving presents to the children in the family, while others maintain they’ve been going gift-free for years.
“It is so much less stressful and so much more enjoyable,” says Montrealer Mei-Lin Yee. “No more spending time in traffic, rushing to the mall.”
So, instead of presents, what are people giving each other over the holidays? Simply, the gift of time.
“It doesn’t really make sense to buy stuff at a specific date. We don’t need all that stuff and we’re creating this whole consumerism culture around a holiday that was originally a religious holiday,” points out Myriam Saindon, who adds she was happy to stop giving and receiving gifts.
“I love the idea of having time to spend with your family and chill in your PJs and play Scrabble and just enjoy each other’s company.”
Christmas has always been an extravagant affair in Saindon’s house, so her decision to stop buying gifts came as a surprise.
“Basically, you find an excuse to buy stuff you don’t really need and ask for stuff you don’t really need,” Saindon says. “I think our planet needs us to reduce the amount of stuff we purchase and the amount of stuff that is produced.”
She notes, though it’s taken a while, her parents, as well as some of her siblings, are coming around to the idea of not buying gifts during the holidays.
“My siblings insisted on buying gifts for the parents, but we were always buying them things they don’t really want,” she explained. “We used to buy a ton of gifts…like $300 per kid. It was crazy.”
Tasha Morizio, general manager of the Société de développement du boulevard Saint-Laurent (SDBSL), says she’s definitely seen a transformation in how Montrealers are shopping around the holidays – but it isn’t all bad news for businesses.
“I think there is a shift in terms of boycotting. People are looking at sustainability and finding out big polluters are big box chains,” she explains. “People are focusing on sustainability and realizing how important it is to shop local, keep the money in our economy and keep these ‘brick and mortar’ businesses alive.”
She notes ever since the trend has shifted to caring more for the planet, people are being more conscious of what they’re buying and choosing where to spend their money – when they do – more carefully.
As for going gift-free, Morizio says she’s still happy to spoil her children, but there is a tradition in her family to do a Secret Santa-style gift exchange where each adult gets just one gift.
Would you consider going gift-free this holiday season?