Friends Don't Give Friends Clutter For Christmas

[ 13 ] December 10, 2009 |
An off the cuff tweet has morphed into a full blown post about clutter and the holidays!  In fact, my tweet “Friends don’t give friends clutter for Christmas” was Rubbermaid’s “Tweet of the Week“!

I was at TJ Maxx today looking for some tights to go with a dress for an upcoming holiday party and was watching PH03446Ipeople rush around clutching ceramic Santas, festive candles, holiday Barbies and other gift-like items.  And I have to wonder – where does it all go?   And is the recipient really, well, thrilled?

How many presents have you received that you just wondered what on earth you were going to do with it?  Or wracked your brain trying to find that perfect gift and ending up with a tie and sweater or a weird tchotchke (that’s any small knickknack that some people really think are cute and most people think are hideous and annoying)?   And how much stuff does your kid get that ends up broken and discarded within a week?

This is a hard subject because I don’t want to come off sounding sanctimonious or “holier than thou”.  While I’d prefer to reduce or eliminate the incessant trading of stuff at every drop of a hat, this isn’t likely to happen nor should it always be so.  Sometimes, a gift is just the right thing in a situation.  But just think, for a moment, what kind of gift would truly be appreciated.

One that doesn’t have to be cleaned or maintained.

One that doesn’t take up space.

One that will not end up in a landfill, thrift shop or only brought out when you visit.

One that really shows the giver that some thought was put into the choice of gift.

In that vein, here are some ideas to get you started:

  • consumables like wine, or locally produced foods such as chocolates, honey or fruit
  • tickets to a movie, concert or theatre production42-16071880
  • dining gift certificate to a favorite restaurant (preferably a locally owned one)
  • gift certificate for a massage or some other sort of pampering
  • gift certificate for a task that the recipient keeps putting off or isn’t able to do themselves: a handyman service to fix the gutters, a car detailer that comes to the house, a house cleaner to scrub from top to bottom
  • gift certificate for time – with a Professional Organizer, a fitness coach, a wardrobe consultant, an appraiser, whomever might be someone whose service could be really used and appreciated
  • family pass to a zoo, science center, children’s museum, art museum, etc.
  • for parents – a free night (or more!) of babysitting so they can go on a real date

For myself, I am gifting my husband two hours with a master gardener for Christmas this year – he loves to root plants and salvage half dead ones.  The man has an amazing green thumb yet doesn’t know half of what he’s got.  So this time will be wonderfully spent where he loves to be with someone who knows his stuff.  And I badgered my husband hinted nicely for a spa package that includes a massage, facial and pedicure.  Not that I’m being particular or anything.  Just, you know, precise.  But it’s something that a. I wouldn’t likely do for myself, and b. would actually get used, and c. doesn’t need dusting.

And on that vein, when did all this gifting (especially for kids) get so out of hand?  Think twice before purchasing stuff, and really give thought to whom should really be on the receiving end.  And be mindful about what you are gifting – is it useful and welcome – or just another dust catcher?

Personally, I don’t want or need any more crap stuff in my house – I like it the way it is – and if I really love something or need it desperately, chances are, I’ll get it myself when I need it.  So do yourself a favor and don’t do so much shopping for stuff – but do some thinking about the spirit of the season.  End of rant.

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Category: consumerism & frugality, holidays

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  1. Twitted by organizedhome | December 10, 2009
  1. jess says:

    my entire family agrees with you. We gave up on christmas presents years ago and instead we all contribute food for a great christmas lunch and dinner. I really love christmas and I spend zero time fighting crowds at shopping centres.

    On the flip side, my husbands family love to give junk presents all the time, my MIL spoils me rotten with the most awful knick knacks and clutter. I have learnt to be quietly thankful that they are so cheap though because it is great when these gifts break within a week! That way I can get rid of them quickly (I do feel a sharp pang of guilt though when I think about landfill)

  2. Shawn says:

    When I was younger, I would have wanted stuff. Now, though, I appreciate the thought that goes into a gift that’s an event. I’ve received hockey tickets to spend time with my in-laws. Not something I would do regularly, but a great experience.

  3. Paula Jo says:

    Everything you wrote is so, so true. I give people gifts that they really can use. For my mom and brother i give them grocery store gift certificates to their favorite store in their town. They go on and on what a nice gift it it, and it really helps them out. Sometimes I will give my family just money, so they can get what they want or just to go out and have a good time. It’s easier on me, and they don’t have to stand in line to take something back. I hate clutter so i try to avoid it. It just drives me crazy. LOL

  4. How about the gift of music? Cds don’t take up much space, or you can give gift certificates for music to download. Do people still make “mix tapes”? I loved those in high school.

  5. Liz says:

    @JessaIrene: And I’ll make sure to save all the Santa mugs just for you – cause you know you want more!

  6. Liz says:

    @Mess Buster: I’m all about the consumables – our house is so small that we don’t have room for any more stuff – but give me wine or chocolate and I’m all over it!

  7. Liz says:

    @Erin: Love the secret Santa – you are right – it is really nice to just get something you can actually use and enjoy instead of a bunch of small trinkets. Great idea!

  8. Liz says:

    @Jim Deitzel: I love the kids coupons – in fact, I remember doing this when I was a kid. Hmmm, I wonder what my husband is going to get this year from our daughter? :-)

  9. Jim Deitzel says:

    My kids give me Clutter-Free gifts. Typically they are home-made ‘coupons’. Things like: Good for 1 car wash, Good for taking out the trash, Good for cleaning my room.

    Very thoughtful, helpful and 100% clutter-free.

  10. Erin says:

    My family this year is doing a secret Santa exchange to cut down on spending and all the stuff we receive. Instead of getting presents from like 20 people, you get one (hopefully nice, useful gift) from one person and have the fun of trying to guess who gave the gift!

  11. Mess Buster says:

    Great post! I love the gift card idea. That’s what I normally do for my parents, who are out of town. (As for me, I like receiving consumables = chocolate!! lol)

  12. JessaIrene says:

    So funny, so true! Love the suggestions, although I like santa mugs, so if anyone is giving them to goodwill you can send them my way. Just kidding, I have enough already!!

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