My Husband and I Don’t Exchange Gifts

Don't Buy Me a Present

People tend to look at me funny when I admit that my husband and I don’t exchange gifts. They think it’s weird or unromantic. Maybe so, but I think it makes sense.

Neither my husband or I *want* things

I rarely find myself longing after a certain item. If I’m really longing for a book or a font or a piece of software, then I just buy it. If I don’t buy it, then it’s because I convince myself that I don’t really need it.

So then when it comes time for birthdays or Christmas, there’s NOTHING that I want. The only thing I can even come up with is an Amazon gift card.

Then my husband is extremely similar. He doesn’t really want anything. The only thing he can usually think of is an Amazon or Steam gift card.

It’s stupid for us to just exchange money

One year, he asked me what I wanted and I just said an Amazon gift card because I couldn’t think of anything else. And then when I asked him, he said a Steam gift card for the same reason. So I got him a gift card and he gave me a gift card for the same amount. WE JUST EXCHANGED MONEY! How pointless is that? In the end, it’s like nothing even happened.

The following year for Christmas, I told him I thought we should stop exchanging gifts and he completely agreed.

I think this has taken a huge weight off both of our shoulders. We both used to get so stressed out because we didn’t know what to get the other person.

  • What the hell do I get him?
  • What does he want?
  • Does he really not want anything or is he just saying that?
  • What if he doesn’t like what I get him?
  • What if he’s afraid to tell me he doesn’t like it?


Now we don’t even have to worry about it!

Is it unromantic? Maybe.

Does it make sense for us? Yep!

What do you think about exchanging gifts (or not)?

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  1. It makes perfect sense! I have a friend that is always very hard to please with gifts and her boyfriend offered her something she said she needed once, it was some lights for her dress room, and he offered them for xmas 2 years ago…and she yelled at him, she makes fun of that and she now demands something because she said he doesn’t know how to pick gifts…and it looks like people care more for the price of the gifts etc and not the gesture and also not the relationship itself…we should not be please only on bdays,xmas,etc…and that is more than objects, there are other things that people forget easily:moments!…the objects fade…but moments are forever!

    Vera recently posted: 2015: Os meus desejos
  2. I don’t think it’s strange if it’s something you have agreed upon. I like giving and receiving gifts, but then there is always something out there I want but might not have the money to get or might think of a better way to spend the money than on πŸ™‚

    Stormi Johnson recently posted: The Week In Review #19
  3. I hate gifts. Mostly because I don’t like surprises, so I don’t want anyone choosing something for me. But then I feel weird asking for things that I do want, which is gift cards. Or this past Christmas, a Kindle Voyage, but it was pretty much like pulling teeth for me to tell my mom what I wanted.

    And I don’t think it’s weird at all that you and your husband don’t exchange gifts. If there’s nothing in particular either of you want that you won’t get for yourself, then that’s perfectly fine! Giving each other gift cards in the same amount is pretty funny though. One Christmas my BFF and I did that (for the same store!!!), but on accident. LoL

    1. Exactly!! I HATE people choosing things for me because I often end up with a ton of stuff I either don’t like, or I like just fine but know I won’t use. If someone wants to give me something, I’d rather have gift cards or money so I can buy whatever I want. But people hate that because “it’s impersonal”.

  4. My boyfriend and I save up gifts with kind of an IOU system. For example, my birthday was in October, as was one of the anniversaries we celebrate (yeah…we’re “that” couple lol). We knew that in early December we wanted to take a “staycation” and stay in New York City for a weekend (he lives just outside it). So we didn’t do gifts then, and we split the hotel costs based on what we “owed” each other lol. He owed me two gifts to my one, so he paid two thirds. So romantic lol.

    It’s nice because like if I just finished a huge project at work and finally get a break from sixty hour weeks (and vice versa with him…he’s an accountant so he has tax season), I can go into my IOU bank and get him to help me pay for a nice massage I wouldn’t have been able to afford otherwise.

    It’s basically lending each other money when we want or need it, but doesn’t feel as awkward.

    Brittany recently posted: How to Beat Book Blogger Burnout
  5. After reading previous comments …. Seriously, there are people in this universe who hate gifts? Geez!

    Well you know, when people give you gifts, it’s about them caring about you. It’s about being thoughtful, it’s about being kind. How would anyone hate that kind of thing? I don’t get it.

    I personally appreciate any gifts I get, even when they give me something I don’t need. The fact that they choose to spend their hard earned money for me is enough for me to be thankful. I also don’t believe there’s anything wrong between couple to exchange gifts. We don’t practice gift exchanging, we send gifts whenever we see interesting stuffs that one of us would love. I think it’s one of the many ways to show how much you care about each other.

    Just a thought πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, there are people who are uncomfortable receiving gifts. See, giving gifts can be a selfish thing. Example: parents can spoil their children thinking that with all those presents, the kids really don’t have a right to complain about the lack of family quality time. Some gifts come with a heavy expectation of gratefulness in return. Also, it’s possible to feel the pressure of looking happy because well, you know your relative are looking and you don’t want to desappoint them. Because they expect the pleasure of having made you happy.
      I used to hate gifts too. If receiving gifts were often a meaningless or uncomfortable thing when you were a kid, it takes some time (and some sincere gifts) to make your feelings change later in life.

      AngΓ©lique recently posted: Review: Pray Lied Eve by Lydia Peever
    2. Well I don’t hate gifts, but I don’t like how I feel when I get a gift. Before I open it, I feel:

      * Nervous. What if I don’t like it?
      * Guilty if I don’t like it. That person was so kind to think of me and spend time getting this, and now I don’t even like it.
      * Awkward. Do I pretend to like it? Or admit that I don’t like it?

      With gifts I usually end up with tons of things I don’t need, don’t want, or don’t end up using, and that makes me feel bad about it. πŸ™

      I guess I’d just rather have special moments or experiences with people than ‘things’. So, for example, I’d rather go out for a nice dinner with my husband than exchange gifts. Or maybe have a fun movie night.

  6. My boyfriend and I don’t exchange gifts, and this is only our second Christmas together. Last year we exchanged little $20 things, but this year we just pretty much gave up. I did use the holiday as an excuse to get a couple decorative things around the apartment that we’d been putting off buying for forever.

    Liza Barrett recently posted: Sunday Post: January 11
  7. I also find the “exchanging money” aspect of gift-giving to be silly. I try to make gifts for my immediate family members rather than buying them. There is a plus side to living in a cold climate (and being an obsessive knitter). I also like to give shared experiences rather than things, like tickets to a play or concert we can all enjoy together. But I think that agreeing not to give gifts is perfectly fine as long as all parties are happy with that.

    Lory @ Emerald City Book Review recently posted: 2015 Book Blog Discussion Challenge
    1. Yeah I do like the idea of making gifts. I think I just run out of ideas sometimes, hahaha.

      For example, I used to have an AWESOME thing going on. I’d make my parents a calendar every year with my photography and artwork. They loved it since I made it, and they actually use ‘real’ calendars like that so they put it to good use.

      But after a few years of that, I started going fewer places (due to going to school, having less time, living in a less interesting place photo-wise) so I took fewer photos. I ended up not having enough to fill a calendar, so that was the end of that tradition. πŸ™

    1. Yeah I hate getting presents I don’t want. Then that brings up the question of whether or not you admit to the person that you don’t like it. Ugh!

      I’m totally happy just going out for a nice dinner. πŸ™‚

  8. I don’t think it’s weird. Sometimes my family and I don’t exchange gifts either. And if we do, it’s things we need that we haven’t bought ourselves yet. Like my hair dryer was getting super old so my mom got me a new one. We need a good tester set for the pool, so we got my dad that. It was the new year so I got my mom a calendar, and so on.

    Jennifer Bielman recently posted: Kindle & Nook Freebies #113
  9. We’re the same. If my husband and I want something for ourselves, we just buy it. So when our birthdays or the holidays roll around, we have no idea what we want. Usually, we just go out to dinner or spend the day together. Can’t put a price on quality time! πŸ˜€

    Raisa recently posted: My Favorite Things: January 2015
    1. I think that’s a great idea. πŸ™‚ That’s pretty much what we end up doing. My husband and I don’t go out for dinner very often, but we usually go out on birthdays and whatnot.

  10. I think it makes perfect sense if you both feel the same way about it. In my family we’ve recently started giving each other experiences instead of physical gifts, such as going to a show someone really wants to see.
    As I’ve got older, gifts don’t bother me too much any more and having a job means I usually buy something I want before a gift-giving event comes round.
    I find gift-giving tricky, especially as I have some friends who will spend what I consider to be a ridiculous amount on people and I can’t / won’t reciprocate.

  11. Agreed 100%. My husband and I are the exact same way when it comes to Christmas. There is nothing we need and if we really want something or need something we buy it throughout the year. Otherwise, we just buy things for the house after Christmas when everything is on sale. Ultimately our gift to each other is keeping a roof over our heads. Plus we’re still paying for our motorcycles. It’s just unnecessary spending we think. We have other people we buy for.
    As far as romance… there are so many other ways to show that without spending a dime.

    Carrie recently posted: Nobody’s Lost, Kallypso Masters
  12. I laughed so hard when I saw your header here because I completely get it. My husband and I almost didn’t exchange gifts this year because of the same reasoning. He rarely buys anything for himself (a big book lover too, and most of what he reads is available at the library). If I want something, I’ll just buy it if we can afford it. I ended up getting him a couple of B movies (hard for him to find in stores), and he got me a terrarium (something I’ve wanted but have been unable to find). Romance doesn’t really factor into the gift exchange. If you both know that you love each other, just find a different way to show it. If you haven’t read it yet, check out “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman. It’s a keeper.

  13. I love this post so much! Now, I do still buy my parents and sister gifts at Christmas/Birthdays etc, but I actually wish I didn’t because like you say: if I want something (or my dad, mam, sister do) they just buy it. Why wait for Christmas to come around when you can have it as soon as it’s out?

    And then all the hassle of thinking of something that they don’t already have/that’s not the same as what you always get them etc. It’s exhausting! Hallelujah to you and your husband for agreeing to not do presents, it just makes sense!

    Leah recently posted: {Books} Fix You by Carrie Elks
  14. I completely agree!! Even with my friends, we find it hard to exchange gifts. She got me a gift card to a store, and I realized that I didn’t want to just exchange money with her, but found it so difficult to find her an actual gift. I’ve never been good at shopping for people so birthdays and holidays are really stressful for me. I personally only think gift exchanging is worth it if the gift is really from the heart or something handmade.

  15. We don’t do gift exchanging in my family either well not anymore when we were children we did the whole shebang for birthdays, anniversaries etc. Now if I see something that I think my siblings/parents would like (my brother is the same all he wants is steam gift cards and RP for league of legends) I buy it and give it to them and my parents do the same. And we just go for dinners for special occasions.
    Gift exchanging with friends and significant others I think its different than with your parents. I get really anxious when selecting gifts for my friends even when I know that they are into that stuff.

  16. My husband and I stopped buying each other gifts once we got married. We buy what we want and whenever we want it, so it is hard to buy for Christmas or birthdays. For last Christmas he asked what I wanted and I said books and Tweak Me v2 lol. I just told him when “he” bought it for me lol. For birthdays and anniversaries I am happy with a card, flowers and going out to eat (because I am not cooking on those days lol).

    Kathy A. recently posted: Book Review – Romancing the Duke
  17. I don’t think it’s unromantic since my husband and I do the same things. Exchanging gifts is kinda pointless since we have shared money account and we buy the things we want immediately.
    The only exception is our wedding anniversary when we take a day of, compile a list of things we would like to do and go crazy all day (cinema, laser tag, sweets, crazy new restaurant, …). It’s like a present from both of us to both of us. LOL

  18. My fiancΓ© and I stopped exchanging gifts a few years ago too! For many of the same reasons πŸ™‚ Now, when we want to do something for a special day we go on a trip or out to dinner, or something else we don’t do very often to make it special. I’m glad we’re not the only ones who don’t exchange gifts!

    Jade @ Bedtime Bookworm recently posted: Physical Books or E-books?
  19. I completely agree with your choice. My boyfriend and I always buy each other nice things throughout the entire year, so by the time Christmas comes we have nothing we really want or need. This year he got me socks and I got him underwear! πŸ˜€ Maybe we should discuss not exchanging gifts at all at that point….

  20. Interesting topic! I agree with you though. It makes a lot of sense. If you don’t ever pine over certain things and struggle to make a list of gift ideas, then you must not REALLY want anything. Why waste the money or have someone spend money on something you only kind of want? My boyfriend and I do generally have an easy time coming up with things we want. He collects Legos and can’t always afford to buy the sets he wants, so those make great gifts. For me, I can never stop collecting memorabilia for my favorite football team. He always knows that’s a good gift for me. (And books, too!) BUT we do generally stray away from gifts. You can always just take a weekend trip somewhere or go out on a date night if you want to celebrate!

    Lauren at Bookmark Lit recently posted: Review: The Secrets of Lily Graves
  21. I think this is a perfect solution. I wish my husband would agree…but he likes exchanging gifts.

    That said…the one thing I asked him for (completion of a honey do list or permission to hire a handyman to complete it) was denied and I ended up doing what his whole family does – Emailing links of products (yay for new light fixtures (now I need that handyman even more desperately!) as gift suggestions…how unromantic is that? So I buy him everything he sends a link to and the 1 or 2 things I try to come up with on my own always end up returned or collecting dust!

  22. I actually think the whole gift exchange is pointless and unromantic as it is actually expected and no longer a surprise. Nowadays I just opt for randomly doing or getting something small and special. Like taking the time to go to the market and buying his favorite cheese. Or baking him his favorite cake in a smaller scale JUST for him. These gifts are more meaningful for me, the same way as when he just randomly decides to buy me a magazine because he saw it features the galaxy or something I love and thought about me. THAT is romantic. Not “schedules” gifts.

    Marisabel recently posted: 2015 Reading Challenge
  23. I am so late to this post, but I just realized that I wasn’t getting my emails from you because I had signed up under the email for my old domain name. I’m so brilliant. v_v;;

    My husband and I have never exchanged gifts. At first it was because it was never in the budget for us, because we were both having a lot of issues. He had been legally fired (though they were aholes about it) from a nicely paying job after they gave him the run around after his hernia surgery and I had gotten out of a horrible marriage 4 months prior and was still trying to figure life out again. Once we could afford gifts, we just never bothered. It was never important to us. I hate people wrapping presents as well. I never buy wrapping paper. I buy gift bags, because they can be reused. Now, if we want something, we just say so and get it. Holidays are more about spending time with family than gifts anyway. Now that we have a daughter, any gifts can just be for her. We just don’t care. I think finding time to put aside everything else and spend time together is much more romantic and a better gift than anything money could buy.

    1. I wondered where you’d run off to! πŸ˜‰

      I totally get why you two don’t exchange gifts. It just doesn’t feel important to my husband and I either. Presents are just “things” and we don’t really want or need things. If we do, then we buy them when we need them.

      I much prefer going on a trip or going out to dinner. πŸ™‚

  24. I’m really late to this party but wow, do I completely, totally agree. I was nodding along to all you wrote. It feels AMAZING to not have to worry about gifts or (shudder) be surprised. We do enjoy going out and traveling together – these are the ‘gifts’ we both feel are so much more ‘us’. You and I (and others in the comments! yeah!) are truly lucky to have partners who feel this way as well. BTW, so happy to have found your blog. πŸ™‚

  25. Was just googling “Why do people think it’s weird that my husband and I don’t exchange gifts” and came across this. Haha. Thank you for feeling the same way. I just said to my coworker, “If I want it, I buy it!” and she looked at me like it was the most extravagant, weirdest thing I’ve ever said in my life.

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