Saturday, December 4, 2010

Does Anyone Really Need More Stuff?

The  holiday season is where my desire for simplicity goes to war with my traditional belief that more is better when it comes to Christmas. Truly, I love the decorations, the parties, the plans to see family members who are far away, and especially the tasty treats. But there is one place I like to be a little Stoogy: the gifts.

Before you unfriend me on Facebook and un-invite me from your holiday party, hear me out, okay? What I'm saying is, who do you know that really needs more stuff? And, do you ever get through Christmas even remotely on budget? And, when you watch your young relatives opening piles of presents, don't you ever notice that in the end they only really love one or two of the presents?

I am not, by any means, saying that we should stop giving gifts altogether. Actually, Leo Babauta is saying that in this post (  I very interested in hearing about how he explains this position to his six children. What I do propose is that we take a less is more approach to holiday shopping. Here are some thoughts:

My co-worker is a single mother of five children. She says that each child receives only 2-3 larger gifts at Christmas, rather than a pile of small presents. Her perspective is: "I don't like to pick up toys!" She finds that when she works Christmas this way, the gifts are better quality and the children enjoy the presents more and for longer.

Most of us struggle with where to put more "things." I really try to give gifts that aren't things- magazine subscriptions are some of my favorite gifts. I also like to give restaurant gift cards and fancy foods (Omaha steaks and Harry and David baskets are my favorites).  These are gifts that get used up, instead of hanging around the house collecting dust.

Everyone LOVES gift cards- don't feel bad that they are not personal. They allow the recipient to pick something really that he or she really wants in the perfect size and color.

I really don't mind if people return gifts I give them, and I show this by including a gift receipt whenever possible. Lots of people feel too guilty to get rid of an unwanted gift, so it hangs around until the inconvenience outweighs the guilt. I don't want one of my gifts doing this.

It really is the thought, not the cost, that counts.

Very few of us will give or receive many "perfect" gifts in our lifetime. Good enough is good enough. Just don't forget the gift receipt.

Just some thoughts for holiday shopping sanity. Feel free to post your own tips for preventing "Holidaze." Goodbye for now and KISS (keep it simple stupid).

1 comment:

  1. We have already discussed the potential children present situation and I think (think being key) that we are going with the something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read. Not sure how it will work out, but we'll see.

    And with the nephews, they always get a birthday book and a Christmas toy, but I try to coordinate with their mom to make sure it is something they actually want/will use.

    Finally, with friends this year, I bought ornaments from the Mustard Seed. It's an org that works intensely with developmental disabled people, so it's something small that has a lot of meaning and supports a good cause...I love gifts that do double duty.


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