Receiving Gifts

I was thinking about this recently, and I’ve realized that I don’t actually like actual gifts any longer.

It’s not to say that I don’t appreciate them, or that I don’t love the thought people put into them.. it’s more that I am feeling more sensitive to the impact it has on my life, and the Earth.

So, it’s why I only like food (includes going out to eat), charitable donations in my name, services (like to a spa), gift cards to a grocery store I shop at, or pharmacy, or actual cash itself, which sounds really bitchy, but let me explain.

The first thing is: I am not into ‘stuff’ any longer.

I had so many homemade things given to me like iPod cosies, joke magnets, candles, cheap things for the kitchen that I don’t use but looked ‘cute’, Dollar store tools that ended up breaking after one use.

All of that stuff pretty much ended up in the donation bin, with other friends just as a random gift, or in the garbage.

It just clutters up my home and my life and then I feel guilty for wanting to get rid of it.

The second thing is: I don’t want people wasting their money.

Quite frankly I am only interested in what I truly want to keep in my home, so I REALLY don’t want people to spend their hard earned money on something that they weren’t sure I’d like. And if I can’t return it and give them their money back or direct the cash somewhere else, then I feel frustrated.

The third thing is: It just causes more unnecessary waste in general

If I don’t keep the item, it goes to a donation box, or to someone else.

But in the end, the economic and environmental impact is that they bought something NEW (I’m assuming, unless it was a re-gift), that means a factory had to add more pollution to the world to produce, which then caused an increase in our landfill because I ended up tossing it.

The fourth thing is: I don’t like the hidden costs of a gift
I’ve blogged about this before (namely, buying a Macbook and then the pretty accessories). When someone gives me a gift, it may need batteries, refills, new parts, accessories (you get the picture), and in the end, I get a present that I have to maintain even though I lived perfectly fine without the gift in the first place!
Same goes for kid’s toys. They need batteries, or they need to start collecting cards in the collection… the hidden, recurring costs just balloon.

The last thing is: I tend to practice what I preach (at least, I try to)

I don’t give gifts for holidays or birthdays. I take people out to eat, or I treat them to a spa day with me so that we can connect together for the day instead of giving them a gift I am not sure they like that they may just toss in the garbage.

I like THEM. So it stands to reason I like spending time WITH THEM. And I’d rather treat them to a $5 coffee than spend $5 on a magnet (and vice versa) they’ll eventually toss (or it may make them feel more cluttered).
It’s not to say I don’t appreciate those little trinkets and gifts when people give them to me, but I just feel like they should have saved their money and met up with me in person instead if they could.

I also don’t buy trinkets when I visit countries, I take pictures instead, or I buy a really special bag, pair of shoes, or a dress so that it’s useful.

I hate souvenirs.

I don’t waste money on items that I am not sure they want or need unless they SPECIFICALLY tell me that they wanted a T-Fal Frying Pan (for example, even though the Teflon coating will do nasty ish to your female bodies), but because I want it to be a practical gift that they will use or enjoy rather than my frantically trying to figure out what they could possibly want and ending up getting them something they half wanted that wasn’t practical for their lives at all.

Like a $5 cheap fondue set that I got one Christmas. I’d rather she saved the $5 or bought chocolates with it instead so we could share them together. I ended up donating the fondue set.
It might sound like a cop out to others, but unless I can eat it (this is where chocolate or homemade food comes in), or use it up without causing waste or more pollution indirectly, and/or benefiting society or our economy… then I don’t want it, but I accept the thought.

I LOVE getting and giving gifts, but only if they’re practical. If not, a simple “Happy Birthday, FB” with a hug and a coffee will suffice for me.
I don’t even send out Christmas cards.
It’s sweet but it’s a waste of paper (although I do scan in all the Christmas cards I get just so I get to keep them in PDF format) but I’d rather call them for an hour to chat or write an email. Or even better, write a handwritten letter so it has a higher chance of being saved.
I used to write letters to my best friend with tons of original FB drawings about her university escapades. Apparently she’s kept them all, and shown her friends…
And this in no way, means that I don’t like THINGS like a new purse, or new shoes. It’s just that I think gift giving has gotten out of control, and I’d rather give a gift that means something than a throwaway present.

So tell me: am I way off base here? Or just getting wackier each day?

About the Author

Just a girl trying to find a balance between being a Shopaholic and a Saver. I cleared $60,000 in 18 months earning $65,000 gross/year. Now I am self-employed, and you can read more about my story here, or visit my other blog: The Everyday Minimalist.