Have you noticed that a lot of clutter comes from gift giving with the best intentions? What do we do with clutter when it disguises itself as a gift? How can we be thoughtful about giving gifts to others without contributing to their clutter struggles?
How many of us feel obligated to keep gifts, especially from friends and family? Said another way, how many of us feel guilty for returning or regifting a gift?
I’m here to tell you that it’s okay to let go of a gift if it’s not your taste, doesn’t fit, or simply because you don’t like it.
Presumably, when gift giving, one hopes the person on the receiving end will like it and keep it. Few people waste their hard-earned money on gifts they know the other person won’t like, right? But unless you know the person on the receiving end really well or know for a fact they want whatever it is you buy them, there’s a decent chance they won’t love, need, or use that gift.
As the gift giver, we should give from a place of other’s interest instead of our own. Once the gift is given, we should allow the receiver to be the one to decide whether or not they like the gift enough to keep it in their homes, discard it, or give it away.
That’s on them. We already did our part. The gift giving is where our part ended; the gift keeping is now their decision to make.
I’ve found that the act of gift giving and receiving is often more special than the gift itself.
I treasure the Christmases where family is gathered together, and we give and receive gifts with love. That’s where the real magic is.
Once you are left with the thing itself, you are within your rights to get rid of it if you don’t love it, need it, or use it. This is where you might say, “But so-and-so would be disappointed if they found out that I got rid of it!”
This is where I come back with, “Wouldn’t they be just as disappointed if they knew you were keeping it out of obligation, but didn’t love, need, or use it?”
Gifts are meant to be received and integrated into our homes and lives—not kept out of guilt. We shouldn’t do anything in our lives out of guilt.
“Presents are not ‘things’ but a means for conveying someone’s feelings. When viewed from this perspective, you don’t need to feel guilty for parting with a gift.” Well said, Marie Kondo.
gift giving alternatives
If you are a friend of mine, you probably know that I love giving experiences, not just physical gifts, and consumables. One time, I combined a birthday gift for a couple (since their birthdates were within a month of each other) and gave them a trip to the zoo. The main gift was the entrance tickets, then I added cute things: water bottles (with animal print tape wrapped around the brand label), mini zoo stuffed animals, and animal crackers (of course). This kind of gift allows you to make a memory while using the physical gift at the same time.
Similar experiences could be movie tickets, concert ticket, theater tickets, museum passes, and if the ticket itself is too extravagant a gift (like Disneyland), gift cards toward that experience are just as good.
I know there are some people in the gift-cards-aren’t-a-real-gift camp, but trust me on this. There is nothing I want more than (a) books, and (b) gift cards to Disneyland.
The other kind of gift I mentioned is consumables. Candles, coffee, tea, lip balms, makeup, face masks, lotions, perfumes, bath bombs. I love getting gifts that I can enjoy and use without having to find a long-term home for them.
Do you like the idea of giving gifts like experiences and consumables? Try it this upcoming Christmas. See how creative you can get for each person on your list. You may really enjoy giving them something just as unique as they are.
one in, one out
The one-in-one-out rule has been around for some time now, and while it’s a good place to start, it guarantees that you will always be left with the same amount you have now. That’s fine, unless you are actually trying to minimize, in which case you won’t make a dent.
If you want to see a noticeable difference in the volume of gifts (or anything) in your home, implement a one-in-three-out rule, or something like that.
be a gatekeeper
What does the term “gatekeeper” mean? Simply that you are aware of every single thing that comes into your home. Don’t let things enter your home only to purge them at a later time. Do yourself a favor and evaluate whether or not you really want to create a home for that gag gift you acquired at a white elephant work party.
Stay consistent, stay firm.
To get started on your Spruce Up journey, grab my: