Have Yourself a “Smalliday”


I’ve heard the word “smalliday” to describe a scaled-down holiday celebration that strives to reduce over-consumption and over-excessive gift-giving. It brought me back to reality and had me truly thinking about the meaning of the season. I knew this would be an opportunity to teach my children that there’s more to the holidays than just gifts. If we can set the expectation low now, the gifts they receive and the time they spend with loved ones will have more meaning. Why else do I love the idea of “smalliday”? Keep reading!

Each holiday that comes around, I’ve slowly become a consumeristic Grinch. It’s gotten even worse after having kids. The amount of stuff my kids have keeps piling higher and higher. I can’t keep up with cleaning, and if your kids are anything like mine, sometimes they downright refuse to help you do it.

I’ve also noticed that too many toys and the choice of what to play with can be extremely overwhelming. When there are too many choices, they are less likely to be engaged with whatever they have decided on and this leads to that dreaded, “Mom, I’m bored!”

We are also in the midst of consumer supply chain issues and labor shortages after almost two years of pandemic life. There are not enough resources or people to keep the wheels turning. We’re putting too many demands on an already struggling system. I realized that even though we are only one family, we can make a difference by lessening that burden.

Maybe our sacrifice will allow an essential item, like food or medicine, to make it to another person when it’s needed most.

On top of that, our country’s over-consumption negatively impacts the environment. Yes, I’m one of those “Go Green!” folks. The more stuff we have, the more stuff ends up in landfills. Our over-consumption leads to over-production which leads to more waste. We need to treat our planet better! Okay, now I’ll get off my soapbox.

So what can we do to have a “smalliday”?


Instead of buying goods, consider donating to a special organization in the name of your recipient. You can find so many different organizations that fit the interests of the person you are wanting to gift to. Animal lovers, social justice warriors, cancer survivors . . . there’s an organization out there. For my son’s second birthday, my friend donated to Box of Balloons in his name and it was the absolute perfect gift. So unexpected and extremely thoughtful!

Have Yourself a Smalliday
(My friend sent me a text with all of the donation information made in our son’s name.)

Buy Nothing

Most kids don’t care if a toy is brand new and/or still has the price tag on it. Many times, you can find the things they want being sold second-hand (your local thrift shop or Facebook Marketplace). Better yet, you can join a group like your local Buy Nothing Project and ask your neighbors if they have toys laying around that their kids have outgrown that they wouldn’t mind passing on. In this group, you can even get rid of the piles of stuff your kids have accumulated by “gifting” the things they have outgrown. Last year, I received a Baby Alive doll with accessories from my local Buy Nothing group which was given to my niece whose name was drawn in our family’s gift exchange.

Have Yourself a Smalliday
(My sweet niece loving on her “new” baby doll.)

Gift Exchange

To reduce the number of things that are purchased, consider having a gift exchange within your family. This works especially great for large or growing families. We do this every year and have a few different exchanges-– one for the grands and greats, the younger adults, and the children. I have found that focusing your time and energy on one person (or less people) results in more thoughtful and meaningful gifts . . . not to mention it’s better for your budget!

Have Yourself a Smalliday
(Our holiday goodies from last year’s family gift exchange! Thank you to our cousins in the Bay Area!)

Shop Small

There’s nothing more perfect for a “smalliday” than shopping small. Buy local from your community businesses, crafters, and artists. Personally, when I receive something local and/or handmade, it gives me more of those holiday “feels.” And usually, it’s not something I would ever splurge on getting for myself! There’s so much talent just around the corner, why not support our neighbors? Here’s a local budget-friendly gift guide if you’re in the Albuquerque and surrounding areas.

Budget Friendly Local Gift Guide
(We got this adorable, hand-crafted sterling silver bracelet for my 12-month-old daughter from Rio Grande Trading.)

Get Crafty

Homemade gifts hold so much sentimental value. Grandparents love crafts from their grandchildren, especially because most have it all or don’t need much. Frame a painting your child made or create a throw pillow with their handprints. No matter what it is, it will be adored. You can even make gifts for the children in your life, and I bet it will still spark the same kind of joy. One year I made a matching game for my cousin’s daughter out of wood rounds and pictures printed of family, friends, and pets. My sister-in-law hand-sewed a felt unicorn doll, and it was adorable! You don’t have to be an expert crafter to make a quality, heartfelt gift.

Have Yourself a Smalliday
(Cute painted snowflakes my kids made for their grandma.)

Experience Life

Give an adventure, outing, or experience. Last year, we gifted our cousins an annual California State Parks pass and a membership to Explora for our niece’s birthday. These types of gifts keep giving throughout the year. Think of all the amazing memories they will make? That’s something that is absolutely priceless.

Have Yourself a Smalliday
(Our family loves to visit National and State Parks!)

The frenzy has already begun, but I hope this helps put a different perspective on the holidays for you. We can each make a difference in the world. Even baby steps will set us on the right path . . . I’m not saying ditch Target and Amazon or your other favorite retailers, but maybe have a more thoughtful approach to your holiday spending and gift giving.

Wishing you and your family a Happy “Smalliday”!

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of ABQ Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.