I have an odd relationship with physical gifts.  I know- you’re wondering what I am talking about.  ‘What does she mean by physical gifts’ you think.  Who doesn’t like gifts?

I am not a minimalist in the true sense of the word: I do not go full Gandhi and own a bowl, a spoon and a sari.  I have material possessions.  I have way too many possessions- an apartment filled with stuff.  But I am constantly trying to reduce what I own- there is always a donation bag in the corner of my dining room which gets dropped off on a bi-weekly basis.  Before I buy something I mentally go through the following checklist:

  1. Do I need it?
  2. Does it fit my lifestyle?
  3. Do I have a place to store it?
  4. Do I love it?
  5. Will I regret not buying it?
  6. Am I only buying it because it’s on sale/good price?

If I have answered “yes” to the first five questions, and “no” to the last then I probably buy it.  But every purchase I make has to pass the test.

So, let’s jump to physical gifts.  Someone gifts me a vase.  I look at my mental checklist and the answer to my questions is “no”.  What do I do with the vase?  Well, first I try to exchange it at the store for something I do like.  If that is not possible I donate it.  Honestly, I didn’t need the vase entering my life.  Honestly, I didn’t need the gift.

“But it’s a gift” you are all thinking.  “Someone gives you a gift out of the goodness of their heart” you say.

I say bull.

Personally, I think many people receive gifts the that giver thinks they should have.  I think many gift givers are somewhat selfish.  I’ve seen many people receive clothing that they would never wear: completely different style than what they normally do.  When the giver was buying the gift, did they think about what the person wears, or are they thinking about what they want the person to wear?  I will use my Mother as an example.  When my daughter was three years old, and my social life consisted of Gymboree classes and group dinners with other parents, my Mother bought me a hot pink, silk blazer.  Lovely item.  It did not fit my lifestyle at that time: it was way too formal for anything I participated in.  My Mother said to me “You can wear it to a PTA meeting.”  Now, I’m sure there are people that get really dressed up for PTA meetings.  I am not one of them.  PTA meetings at my daughters elementary school were held at 8:30 in the morning, after drop off.  I was lucky to be showered at that point, much less wearing an outfit that consisted of a hot pink silk blazer.  My Mother didn’t understand that I didn’t spend two hours getting dressed in the morning to attend a PTA meeting.  She gave me a gift that was something she wanted to see me wear, not something that was good for my lifestyle. (To be clear- my Mother has done this with every present she has ever given me- she thinks about what she wants me to have, not what I want.  Honestly, rather just have a card)  Also, I have seen my guy friends do this with the women in their lives.  I have seen them purchase heels, and sexy clothing, as well as hiking gear.  I have see my woman friends buy their husbands fancier clothes because they don’t like what their husbands wear.  These are all nice things: they just weren’t nice for the people receiving them.  Have you ever received an article of clothing that wasn’t your style at all?

I think gifts can be seen as an obligation, sort of like, I spent money on you, so you need to like me.  Someone gives a gift, and they expect something in return.  That’s not why you give a gift.  That’s not why you do anything.  You give something to someone because you want to.  You give a gift that will please the recipient, that has meaning to the recipient.  When you give a gift, it’s not really about you.  Well, it shouldn’t be anyway.  Have you ever given a gift because you wanted something in return?  Have you ever received a gift that came with strings attached? (and I don’t mean bows and ribbons)

I will tell you the gifts that I do cherish and love.  My birthday always falls around Mother’s Day, so every year my daughter writes me a letter.  I hang these letters up around my vanity in my bedroom.  My Husband usually gives me a spa gift card because he knows that I love a spa day.  These are the things that are important to me.  These are the things that make me happy.  If I really want/need something on the expensive side,I don’t expect it as a “gift”- I talk to my Husband and if it’s economically feasible I just buy it. (to be clear- the jeweler is not on my speed dial- the majority of my jewelry is costume.  My last expensive purchase was my desk chair, and even that wasn’t egregious)

So to sum up this VERY long post:

  1. Are you giving a gift that is the style of the recipient, or something that they want?
  2. Are you expecting something in return for the gift?
  3. Have you ever received a gift that was not your style or hated?
  4. Do you think you only deserve nice things if someone else buys them for you?
  5. Do you think I’m just a wee bit crazy? (tread lightly!!)

 

 

 

73 thoughts on “No Gifts, Please

  1. Gifts are tough. Good coffee convo. Hmm… I think people often find gifts they like, then try to find a way to fit the person it’s being given to. Not always, but unless you have an idea of what you want, and know it’s for that person specifically, it usually works that former way.

    I don’t think you’re a wee bit crazy! It all comes down to the purpose for the gift, too. Is it an obligation or something they truly thought about and wanted to do. Sometimes that intention makes all the difference, assuming it’s not so giant that you have to keep it and never like it!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. and I might be late today… I have to return a giant box of broken forks. It’s like 4 foot by 4 foot. At least 300 of them in there. I thought you’ve love it… and I just wanted you to have it. I’m second-guessing my decision now…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is funny because I was just talking to my niece yesterday about a Christmas from when my girls were little. We had someone living with us until they got on their feet after a job loss and she came in to help me wrap presents for the girls. Each girl had their own pattern paper, so tags weren’t necessary. She asked what we got ‘from Santa’ and I told her “All of these are from Santa. The gifts from Bill and I are already wrapped with cards and tags on them.” She looked at me seriously and said, “I couldn’t do that. I would want them to know all the gifts were from me.” I told her, “Well, it really isn’t about you or me, is it.” She did not understand.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think many gift givers are somewhat selfish.

    Yep. Me, too. There’s some Irish saying to the effect of: beware of anyone who gives you anything because they want something in return. The Irish said it better than I did, btw.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The older I get the less gifts I want. I’d rather have a gift card and that’s what I usually get other people. That way they can get what they want. It’s a win win. That’s really sweet that your daughter writes you a letter for your birthday. Love that idea

    Liked by 1 person

  6. yes, gifts are always a tricky thing if we are thoughtful about them. i try to give (and love to receive), opportunities over things, as well as little and thoughtful gifts from the heart.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree. I love experiences. The best gifts for me are tickets, or gift cards to classes or spa treatments, or anything fun and different. And of course, when someone brings me something little cause they thought I would like it, that’s always sweet!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Experience gifts! Recently when anyone directly asks what to give any of my children as a present, I just list off the places they love to go and suggest that. They’ve got enough toys and they get even more excited when they open a gift card for a Chuck E Cheese or somewhere similar.
    Spa certificate for me thanks! Lol.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Well, first…I do think you’re a wee bit crazy…because crazy is interesting, and you’re certainly not a boring blogger. So crazy (in my book) is a good thing.

    I’ve winnowed down the number of gifts received throughout the years by not reciprocating. In my head, the gifter was expecting something in return, and when they didn’t receive, they stopped giving. Great for me, as it means I’ve less stuff that doesn’t fit me to get rid of.

    What? Hurt feelings and all that? Well, if our ‘friendship’ was based on a continual stream of little trinkets being exchanged, is it really an association worth pursuing?

    For those who do end up on my gift list, I usually come up with something handmade…unless it’s my SO. He usually has a running list of music or movies he wants to own, so I’ll shorten that list periodically throughout the year.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I’ll admit to “buying in” to the whole gifting regime for a long time. But I always tried to make sure the gift would fit William Morris’s criteria. As that became more difficult, I actively supported the ceasation of gifting to all and sundry. My family now just does a secret santa, but with a decent budget and the provision of ideas from those who want to avoid unwanted stuff entering their homes. Even with my granddaughter, I send links of things I’d *like* to buy to my daughter to see if it fits their plans. I don’t find it a restriction, simply a way to avoid the accumulation of stuff. My Mum is very much like yours. She likes “stuff”, the more useless the better. She also buys what she thinks you *should* wear/have/desire and fights the gift list restriction Every … Single … Year! I so feel your pain and you are decidedly not crazy (except in the best way).

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I do and don’t agree about gifts as my wife tells me exactly what to get her albeit it has evolved now she saves me a trip by buying her gifts herself.
    I like taking friends for lunch as gifts, but my mom appreciates flowers delivered as she lives 400 miles away and lots of phone calls. My kids want cash but my son I take shopping instead.
    I think gift giving should have more thought involved specifically what does the recipient want or like. Don’t be afraid to ask.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I never give gifts lightly, I try to put a lot of thought into them. This gets me into trouble with my immediate family as I make myself crazy and am heartbroken if they are not crazy about it. I would hate to think that people thought I was giving them something with strings attached or it was me giving them something that I thought they needed. I understand where you are coming from though

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My husband has learned that my favorite gifts are a full pass to the film festival and a wine-of-the-month club (and earrings). My dear friend gives me wine for Christmas every year (which I drink, of course), but she always gives me the kind SHE likes, not the kind I buy for myself (every time we go out for drinks! She knows what I like.)

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My husband and I have pretty much trained everyone in our lives – including each other – not to buy us gifts. Not for Christmas, not for birthdays, not for anything. We really don’t need anything, and I don’t want someone spending their time and money buying us something we probably don’t want. At this point in our lives, we are more focused on experiences rather than stuff. I love your check list for deciding if you should buy something… I imagine that you often determine that it’s unnecessary and put it back.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re right….I usually end up buying nothing. But to be honest, I don’t shop unless I have a specific need. My trouble spot is target, because I do get sucked into the allure of the things there.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. When I walk through HOME GOODS these days, I actually get “flashforwards” to the inevitable day I will be taking any and all of that crap to Goodwill..so I am 100% SURE I’m in the ‘I don’t want anything’ phase.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Crazy? Not at all. For several years when we were early married my husband would give me wonderful presents – that he liked, including jewelry that was yellow gold, when my preference has ALWAYS been white gold or silver. I felt guilty not appreciating something he had chosen but I don’t like wearing it so it sits in my jewelry box. Finally I decided to “help” him out a bit and each Christmas I give him a list (including pictures and possible places to purchase said items). It works most of the time 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. When I completed my semester of student teaching at an elementary school in Bismarck, N.D., the classroom teacher presented me with a gift. It’s kind of a tradition, and usually the gift is something a new teacher might use in his/her classroom (books, bulletin board decorations, etc.). My cooperating teacher gave me a blue jumpsuit in her size. She was a size 4, and about 5’3”; whereas I am a size 12 and 5’8”. The woman hadn’t wanted me in her classroom—the principal made her take on a student teacher, and I was aware of this from the beginning, but thought I’d made inroads into a working relationship with her. The jumpsuit proved otherwise. I donated it to goodwill.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I really don’t like receiving gifts. I’m picky when it comes to clothes. Plus a lot of times I am given items that don’t fit. It is awkward at best. If I need something I prefer to buy it myself.

    My mom is a huge gift giver. I think sometimes she bought gifts as a replacement for her time. She would make me feel guilty if I donated the items. She is a pack rat so she would often give me items that she couldn’t throw out. She also gives strange gifts. She bought my brother (in his 30’s without kids) a life sized Star Wars figure that talked.

    Plus I always feel awful getting her gifts because I never know what to buy her, she has everything. I am very happy with gift cards or family outings. I’d rather have the gift of time. It is way more valuable. But gift giving is a big way my mom shows she cares. If I respond in any way that I don’t appreciate what she bought she feels rejected. It is difficult when family and friends have a different way of showing they care than you do.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. A few years back when my family asked what I wanted for my birthday I said yard work. My birthday is in nov and falls just as the leaves are. I wanted leaf raking help as my gift. I got many groans about wanting the gift of their time and labor instead of something easy like spending money on something I will never need or use. But now it’s become an annual thing and the whole family gets into it and we have a good time. My leaf raking party means a lot more to me knowing my family is willing to give their time which is a precious commodity for us all, and means so much more to me than then buying me something. Also means I don’t spend a week post leaves falling on the couch in pain since 8 people helping means I end up raking like 5minutes instead of hours.

    Liked by 2 people

  19. I enjoy giving and receiving gifts. As moms, we spend so much time caring for other people that it’s nice to get a gift once in awhile. I spend a lot of time picking out gifts, trying to buy something the person will like. I have no control whether they will like it, but I hope they do. By the way, I go shopping with my mother for my birthday gifts. I feel like I’m five, but I look forward to it all year. It’s the one day I have her to myself all year.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I ask my daughter for a list, which she provides me, including website links. It’s brilliant. But we know I hate shopping. I tell my mom not to buy me anything anymore, and I buy them food gift baskets. And I admit, if I want something I buy it, but honestly, I want very little.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I so endorse your views!! It can be a cumbersome exercise to pick out gifts which is appreciated by the receipient and one really will never know what the other person truly wants at that point in time! Gifts for the sake of gifting is rather sad. I much rather prefer gift cards..agreed they are impersonal but I feel at least it may be used for the right buys rather than being thrust upon an equivalent of your pink blazer!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Not crazy. This is why my mom gifted a couple small things to each of us at Christmas, and an equal amount of cash to every one of her children AND children-in-law. She figured we could use it for something we really needed/wanted (in our case, a kitchen sink). My mom is very wise, like you

    Liked by 1 person

  22. This brings back memories of when I used to celebrate secular holidays. Way back when my daughter was a baby I felt an obligation to buy gifts at Christmas time for friends and family members, even though I wasn’t in a position to do so. (I was a young mother and trying to get some financial footing.) Anyway, I needed to buy a gift for one of my good but exacting friend’s mother. They were big into Christmas. So I bought her a bracelet that cost about $100….a huge squeeze on my budget at the time. In other words, I couldn’t afford to. I was proud of that bracelet. When I showed it to said friend before presenting it to her mother, she thought it was something cheap I picked up from a vendor off the street. (I lived and worked in NYC back then). I was insulted and hurt. I never forgot it. I haven’t observed Christmas or any other holiday not many years following that incident for over 20 years now. Not because of what happened, but because of what I’ve come to learn about the origins of many of these holidays. A personal choice. Now I’m happy to give and receive gifts out of the goodness of my heart when I choose to, and not out of obligation. Since all of my close friends are of the same opinion regarding holidays, etc., we all exchange gifts on a whim. And bonus, every gift is thoughtfully planned out to suit the person it’s being given to. For example, my good friend and booklover like myself, surprised me with a painting that she did for me of an open book with a beautiful scene inside. I LOVED it!! It was unexpected and given thoughtfully and from the heart. It hangs proudly in my book room. To me, those are the best gifts. Received when unexpected and given from the heart.
    I agree with everything you said regarding gifts, and you are not in the least bit crazy. ( : Sorry for the super-long response. I got carried away. 🤦🏽‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Love your thoughts and comments!! And glad you don’t think I’m crazy😉 I think when gift giving becomes a competition it’s just wrong. I give gifts to very few people because I think it gets crazy

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you. That experience scarred me for many years. It made me re-examine the whole gift-giving tradition.
        Actually, you sound very sane to me. I always enjoy reading your posts because they’re always relevant, thought provoking and sensible. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

  23. Yes!! The best gifts I’ve received lately were Garmin watches from my son, binoculars from my husband (which I like but never use), and Keurig machine (which I didn’t need but turned out to be pretty awesome). I hate little gifts that the giver thinks I should have, because THEY want me to use them. I will get rid of them . I also don’t like to give gifts unless the person has specifically asked for it. I have five boys and they have rejected so many gifts, I’ve given up.

    Liked by 1 person

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