The Answer to a Clutter-Free Christmas? Staycations. Here's Why.

Do you find it getting harder and harder to find the right gift for certain people on your list?  Do you find yourself buying a gift just for the sake of giving the gift even though you know the person you are buying for does not need or necessarily want said gift?  I think we have all been in this position. As the world moves toward a less is more mentality, this predicament is becoming even more prevalent.

As a mother, I am embarrassed to admit (on several occasions mind you) to finding unopened gifts my children have received.  The gifts are unwrapped and properly thanked for but beyond that, they are just clutter. This in no way diminishes the feeling of gratitude towards the gift giver; it is just a fact!

WOW, that sounds terribly ungrateful and if you know me you know I am nothing but grateful for the people and gifts in my life!  I cannot stress that enough. However, I have come to know that experiences trump most things, and the gift of an experience outlives that of a trinket or latest gadget.  


This is why my family moved from giving mountains of gifts when the children were young to what we called “the three wise men gifting” (three gifts) as they became teenagers. Now, we do a “staycation.”

What is a stay-cation?  It’s a vacation in your own city or a city nearby.  I will not lie, not buying gifts felt really weird and still does. But when I ask my family what they would like for Christmas, they tell me another staycation.  

Last year’s staycation:

I planned a family dinner at Damien’s Italian Restaurant with a shuttle to the Alley Theatre to see a performance of A Christmas Carol.  If you are in Houston, this is a must!!  Damien’s Restaurant provides a free shuttle to the theatre district.  The minibus drops you off right in front of your theatre and like a magical carriage following the performance it is there to pick you up.  What’s more, they know you are going to the theatre so they pace your meal to accommodate those plans. No need to worry if your entre will be out with perfect scheduling or whether the check will be delivered in adequate time to retrieve the car, drive, park, walk to your seats.  

I wanted to add a little international culture to our itinerary so I planned a dinner at Yauatcha Houston, a dim sum teahouse offering classic and contemporary dim sum, wok dishes, patisserie, and an innovative wine and cocktail list.  I paired this with a performance of Shen Yun, a performing arts group that performs classical Chinese dance, ethnic and folk dance, and story-based dance, with orchestral accompaniment and solo performers.

Continuing with our internationally themed staycation, we also attended a family dinner one night at Peli-Peli, a South African restaurant in Houston.

This year’s staycation:

We’ll kick off our staycation with dinner at La Griglia Italian Restaurant with a performance of Ä Christmas Pageant at Stages Repertory Theatre.

I have also planned a family outing to I-Fly, the latest immersive experience combing VR technology with the real rush of skydiving over some of the world’s most beautiful destinations.  Now everyone can pick a bucket list place to skydive atop! We will then grab an early dinner at a local Mexican restaurant, where we will no doubt recount the excitement.

To continue the experience, I purchased tickets to the Houston Rockets versus Boston Celtics basketball game and thought that might team well with a great barbecue dinner.  


Our house is still decked out with Christmas cheer.  We still do our Secret Santa exchange on Christmas Eve while wearing our matching PJs and Santa still delivers stockings to our family on Christmas Day, but Christmas has become more about our time together and less about the presents.  These staycations have put the meaning of Christmas right back where it should be!

Check out our Instagram for more clutter-free gift ideas!  We have been posting one per day and will continue to do so until Christmas Eve.