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Have the No Gifts Talk

Dear Jo the Clutterbuster:

We left everything in its place and are enjoying our vacation. Hope you are enjoying your respite, too..

The holidays are on the horizon. We worked so hard to simplify our lives, and want to contiue to keep our lives uncomplicated..
How do we prepare the extended family for a change in our traditions?


Clutter Convert

Dear CC:

Like the birds and the bees talk, the "No Gifts" talk engenders as much anxiety and sweaty palms. While lounging on the beach in August or sending pictures of the first day of school, begin a dialogue about alternatives to gift giving. If you are really nervous about raising the topic, send an email and refer them to this blog for backup support.

When you first raise the option of "No Gifts" you may be assaulted with questions like these:

What will we/they open?
What do I do with the gifts I already purchased?

Behind these questions are concerns of the heart:

How will they know I love them?
How will I know I am loved?

Many families are horrified when the 'No gifts'discussion opens. To reduce the anxiety, explain that gifts are allowed, even desired. However, offer ideas for gifts that are consumable, desired, useful and meaningful, but won't need batteries or create more clutter. Here are suggestions for a gift-less holiday. Poll friends and family for additional ideas.

  • Provide gift certificates to the movies, favorite restaurants, spas, theatres, concerts
  • Consolidate trip miles for vacations
  • Donate to charities in the name of someone you love
  • Adopt a family and provide gifts they request
  • Spend "Time"-  together, apart
  • Commit to time as a volunteer
  • Provide childcare
  • Send Telephone cards to soldiers overseas
  • Learn a new skill - skating, singing, painting
  • Organize photo albums/disks with family pix
  • Make a book of family stories
  • Make decorations together
  • Letters to Veteran's Hospital patients
  • Pay the registration fees for a class, workshop
  • Award Chores chits
  • Plan a "good deed" vacation -  National Parks, Trail clean ups
  • Teach someone to cook a favorite meal, recipe
  • Create a family cookbook
  • Make Cookies for residents of senior homes

If you must provide a gift, wrap in useable wrappings: bandanas, fabric, handmade paper, newsprint, used boxes and bows. Cut up old holiday cards to use as gift cards.

Remember: It's not the gift, it's the thought that counts. Make this a thoughtful giving year.