Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday were just a week or so past. Wow! That’s a lot of shopping and messaging about needing more! I fell prey to it, too, and certainly did a little shopping. I’m traveling a good distance over the holidays to visit family so I knew I needed to plan ahead and get my shopping done earlier this year. Mission accomplished.

It’s easy to get caught up in the needing, buying, wanting mode. I firmly believe it’s not the things that make us the happiest but the moments and experiences. Yes we probably have a few items we cherish or covet but most of what is around us is stuff. When we think about moments when we were the happiest it is often a trip or time with friends or an experience or accomplishment with a loved one. I doubt many would say it’s that time they bought that cashmere sweater or decorative vase!

In the studio, I had a conversation with several students recently that went something like this: If you lived near the CA wildfires and needed to evacuate in a matter of 10 minutes, what three things would you take from your home? (We assumed family members were ok). The answers didn’t vary much. For most it was their pictures (often housed on a computer), one or two family heirloom items (for me, my late grandmother’s diamond) and our pets. For some, items like a passport or important documents came up. No one said a single item of clothing or a nicknack or an electronic gadget. I believe because all of those can be replaced. It can be a powerful reminder to think about what really matters to us and what is just stuff.

This holiday season I encourage you to remember this and not get sucked into the spending funnel that leaves you with daunting credit card bills in January. Chances are you have enough. Maybe you have too much … and some could go to help someone else? It’s a great time of year to empty your closet of extra winter coats, hats, scarves and gloves that could really benefit someone in need.

Maybe this year, consider giving gifts of experiences, gifts of activities, gifts of time spent together, gifts of health, and gifts that create memories!