Family Matters2 min readDecember 13, 2022

“SIMPLY” having a wonderful Christmas time – gift giving guide

The holiday season can be a time of stress for many people. An increase in activities and gatherings (or conversely, isolation), the pressure to pick the best gifts for those on your shopping list and of course, the financial burden that goes along with all of this.

For many of us, gifts are not really necessary at this stage of our lives. My niece and nephew are grown, and my parents are in their late 70s and early 80s. We no longer need or, for that matter, want knickknacks or things to clutter our homes and our lives. More and more people are embracing the concept of living simply.

So for those of us who dislike the more ‘material’ aspects of the season, how can we make the season bright without all the bombast and bric-a-brac? How can we keep the holidays simple?

I suggest we consider gift giving from a sustainable perspective. We are all familiar with the environmental approach of Recycle (make a craft from household items), Reduce (cut down on the number of store-bought gifts) and Reuse (give a gently used item like a book or game).

In addition to these three “Rs,” I propose we add a fourth R” –“Reside.” Simply put, to spend quality time with friends and family. To be present with one another.

With that in mind, I struck out to find a suitable gift for my 78-year-old mom, an active woman, loving parent, environmentalist and protector of nature. Here are some of those ideas (feel free to borrow them if you wish).

Five low or no-cost Manitoba activities I’m going to enjoy with my mom this holiday season:

  1. Bundle up and take a walk in one of the many green spaces you can find in our beautiful province. Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate or other warm beverage on the walk or afterwards back at home.
  2. Make some birdseed bells to help nourish our fine feathered friends during the long cold winter months.
  3. Get tickets to the new Leaf Conservatory at Assiniboine Park and spend a cold day on the outside, enjoying the warmth and beauty of the plants, flowers, and butterflies on the inside.
  4. Play a game. Some of our family favourites are : Sorry!, Yahtzee, cribbage and cards.
  5. We are going to participate in the ‘Be a Santa to a Senior’ program together. We will select the name of a senior in our community, purchase a modest gift, and in some small way brighten the day for someone less fortunate.


And on a very selfish note, I will head over to her house for a visit or two where I will indulge in her melt-in-your-mouth shortbread, mincemeat tarts, and Christmas cookies made with three types of ginger! Time together doesn’t get much better than that!

Let me know how you plan to RESIDE with the important people in your life this year, or how you might incorporate Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle into your simplified holiday plans! Drop me a line at:


~Ainsley Cunningham

Founder and Project Coordinator, MoneySmart Manitoba
Manager, Education & Communications, Manitoba Financial Services Agency

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  1. 20bet says:

    Your article gave me a lot of inspiration, I hope you can explain your point of view in more detail, because I have some doubts, thank you.

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