It’s that wonderful time of year: many celebrate the holiday season with special foods, drinks, music, events, and of course, gifts. Gifts are how many show appreciation and love.

Gift giving is a nice tradition, but it can add a lot of stress to the holiday season. Givers face the financial and mental stresses that come with choosing and making purchases. But, increasingly, for the recipient, there are stresses around absorbing another item into an already full or cluttered home.

Are you overwhelmed by all the stuff in your house? Many are. This is where our culture of consumerism and gift-giving has led us. Many are unable pare down their belongings. Instead, they look for ways to increase their space — moving, renovating or renting additional storage.

Maybe it’s time to review some of our gift giving traditions and consider alternative but thoughtful ways to celebrate, and show appreciation and love.

Replace gift-giving with a new tradition for some

Instead of giving gifts, create a new tradition that you plan and arrange. Go for a coffee/drink, dinner, skating with families, holiday show, etc. Time spent together creates lasting memories and connections that an object never would. One of the groups of friends I have has a holiday brunch every year. It is a highly anticipated event and much more special than any gift could ever be.

Pare down gift giving for others

Set limits on gift giving. For example, within families set spending limits and pick names so each person is not required to purchase gifts for everyone — just the individuals whose name they draw. You still share the overall experience with the larger group, but the potential stuff accumulation is limited.

Give time, experiences and prized consumable items

For those on your gift list, give something that doesn’t require permanent storage. These include the gifts of time, experiences and consumable treats for adults and kids. Most parents I know would choose free babysitting over any household item. Other options include yoga passes, prepared meals, massages and family photo sessions. Prized consumable gifts are things which you know they love and would quickly consume with pleasure, like a bottle of wine, a bouquet of flowers or favourite treat. For my dad it was pickled herring. He loved it and could easily empty a jar within days. It was also not something he would regularly purchase for himself.

Interested in changing your gift giving approach this season? Go for it and share this article with friends, family and colleagues. Discuss reducing the accumulation of stuff and some of the stress over the holidays. Show appreciation and love in new ways. Many people are overwhelmed with stuff – I am sure it will resonate with many and help effect change.

Have a lovely holiday season!

Here are more consumable gift ideas.