Since we are on the subject of obligation clutter this week I thought I would do a quick post on gift giving, receiving and decluttering. Not everyone will agree with what I have to say here but that is OK we are all entitled to set our own boundaries when it comes to this tradition. What I prefer ~ which is what this post is about ~ is to avoid the likelihood of unwanted and obligatory items entering my home not to mention the unnecessary addition to the supply and demand of products I don’t need that have a detrimental effect on the environment.
I have written plenty of post on this subject in the past but it bares mentioning over and over again because the more we here something that more we can come to accept it as a reality we can live with. I can assure you I have lost no friends or been alienated from any family member for my attitude towards gift giving, receiving and decluttering. I hope you will consider that proof that it is possible to set your boundaries without paying a price. So don’t feel obliged to give things you would rather not, live by other peoples rules on accepting things you don’t want or keep things you didn’t wish to receive in the first place or have long since tired of.
“Any time you give with the intent of getting in return, then it’s not really a gift , it’s a trade.” ~ Jane Velez-Mitchell
I believe a gift is meant to bring pleasure to the person you are giving it to. Yes we feel excited and expectant when giving that the person receiving will love what we have to offer but this isn’t always going to be the case. No matter how much thought is put into a gift or how great you think the item is yourself isn’t a guarantee of reciprocal pleasure. As the quote from Jane Velez-Mitchell states above, giving a gift isn’t about the adulation you will receive in return from the eternally grateful receiver so don’t expect it. We should also not expect that the item will be kept if it is not to the receivers taste or necessity.
It is very rare that I will give a material gift these days unless it is something that the person has mentioned that they really want. I give gifts of company, experience or something consumable. In the case of my family, who all live far away, they were easily convince that mailing things back and forth was pointless and were happy with the no gifts at all idea. I do always send a card ~ usually home made ~ and phone them for a chat. As for my friends, I usually take them out for a combination of two of the following, lunch, dinner, a movie, some sort of local excursion. There is no potential clutter involved and we get to spend some quality time together. My two Uncluttered Gift Idea guides give some great suggestions as to what you can give as gifts that cause no clutter.
I have informed just about everyone I know that I don’t wish to receive material gifts. I am happy if my friends or family want to buy me gifts but would prefer they limit them to gifts of company, experience or something consumable. By company I mean spending time with me or calling me on my birthday. By experience I mean, for example, paying for a massage, a manicure or a movie. And by consumable I mean things like flowers, a box of chocolates or a meal out together… Whenever someone does give me a material gift, which isn’t often because most have conformed to my wishes, I don’t refuse it I accept politely but usually declutter it soon after and then sometime prior to the next celebratory occasion I remind them again that I prefer not to receive gifts.
Clearly, from what I have written above, I feel that no gift should be given with strings attached. Therefore I have no issue with decluttering gifts that I have no use for. Especially in light of the fact that everyone I know is aware that I do not wish to receive them. I really only have one friend that still insists on giving me material gifts and she now always says to me “Please return it if it isn’t what you want. I have left the receipt in the bag.” I accept graciously and then if I do decide to return the item I don’t bother to tell her and she is polite enough not to ask. She is happy to have been able to give me something and I don’t feel obliged to keep it.
* I may not be able to respond to comments on this post as I will be out of action for at least four days due to having an operation. I have left the comment section open so you can enjoy chatting about it to your fellow 365ers. I hope to be back participating early next week.
Today’s Mini Mission
Declutter an unwanted gift ~ No explanation necessary, sell, donate or regift it.
Today’s Declutter Item
This item was not an unwanted gift at the time it was given, in fact it was requested but years later with our change of attitude to possessions it is now unwanted. It was a gift from me to my husband and I have no issue with him wanting to let it go in fact it couldn’t happen soon enough because I am the one who had to dust it. I have a habit of accidentally break his stuff so this is one potential victim that managed to escape before the inevitable happened. It was sold on ebay.
Something I Am Grateful For Today
Today is the first day of the rest of my life.
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast