A New Spin On Holiday Giving

From Mon­i­ca Ric­ci’s Cat­a­lyst Orga­niz­ing newslet­ter:

When Novem­ber hits, many peo­ple shift into hol­i­day mode, begin­ning their plan­ning for Decem­ber events. Hol­i­days, by def­i­n­i­tion, are a time to relax with friends and fam­i­ly, retreat­ing from work and respon­si­bil­i­ties to enjoy our rela­tion­ships and the fes­tiv­i­ties of the sea­son. Do your hol­i­days reflect rest and relax­ation? Or do they reflect added stress, debt, hec­tic sched­ules, and weeks of fran­tic “busy­ness” that you could do without?

When I work with clients this time of year, I find that much of their hol­i­day stress comes from the pres­sure to give gifts. I also find that much of the clut­ter that exists in the lives of my clients are past gifts from well-mean­ing friends and rel­a­tives. We are so accus­tomed to gift-giv­ing at birth­days, hol­i­days, and oth­er events that we sel­dom think about the impact that giv­ing a gift will have on the receiver.

As an exam­ple, think about your­self. Do the gifts that you receive always add real val­ue to your life? Or do they sim­ply add more clut­ter? Do you real­ly need anoth­er tie, knick-knack, or cof­fee mug to add to your grow­ing col­lec­tion? Do your chil­dren real­ly need anoth­er toy or stuffed ani­mal? If you’re like most peo­ple, and you tell your­self the truth, the answer is no. So if YOU feel this way, chances are that your friends and rel­a­tives might also feel the same. Is it even pos­si­ble that you might all be buy­ing for each oth­er out of a sense of tra­di­tion or oblig­a­tion, each wish­ing that the oth­er would speak up and put a stop to it? Or maybe you’d like to change the style of gifts that you give, as not to add clut­ter to the life of some­one you love.

If you are tired of feel­ing pres­sured to buy, tired of spend­ing a for­tune at the hol­i­days, or are tired of your fam­i­ly giv­ing your chil­dren a whole lot of what they real­ly don’t need, this is your year to make some hol­i­day gift-giv­ing changes for the better!

Below are three ideas for sim­pli­fy­ing the hol­i­days that will change your out­look on giv­ing and receiv­ing gifts, along with a list of ten new gift ideas that won’t add clut­ter to any­one’s life.

Can We Talk?
Have a frank con­ver­sa­tion with your loved ones about your feel­ings sur­round­ing the gift-giv­ing tra­di­tion. You might dis­cov­er that they are as will­ing to sim­pli­fy or elim­i­nate gift-giv­ing as you are, but were hes­i­tant to bring it up.

Just Say No
Set lim­its for your­self and your chil­dren. Let your friends and fam­i­ly know in advance (that means NOW) that you are endeav­or­ing to sim­pli­fy your life and to teach your chil­dren that more is NOT bet­ter. Set lim­its on the num­ber and/or type of gifts that you will allow your chil­dren to receive. As a par­ent, you have not only the right, but the respon­si­bil­i­ty to shape your child’s expec­ta­tions of the hol­i­days. Do you want to teach them that the hol­i­days are about get­ting as many gifts as pos­si­ble or do you want to teach them some­thing dif­fer­ent? It’s your choice, and your action (or inac­tion) will speak for itself.

Change Your Habits
Choose to change your gift-giv­ing habits. Unless some­one has specif­i­cal­ly request­ed a par­tic­u­lar item, try giv­ing gifts of time, ser­vices, or expe­ri­ence this year. Here are great sug­ges­tions for clut­ter-free gifts that you can give, and sug­gest that your fam­i­ly give to your kids. The won­der­ful thing about giv­ing gifts like these is that the per­son giv­ing the gift can EXPERIENCE the gift with the recip­i­ent if they want to, and isn’t spend­ing time togeth­er the best gift of all?

Clut­ter-Free Gifts For Kids:

        1.  A mati­nee movie.
        2.  Tick­ets to a play or musical.
        3.  Tick­ets to an ice show.
        4.  An evening at a kid-themed restaurant.
        5.  A trip to the zoo.
        6.  An after­noon at a local art or sci­ence museum.
        7.  Gift cards to an ice cream shop.
        8.  Host a home­made orna­ment-mak­ing party.
        9.  Host a cook­ie-mak­ing par­ty with hol­i­day music.
      10. Host a week­end slum­ber party.

Clut­ter-Free Gifts For Grown-Ups:

        1.  Babysit­ting ser­vices for new (or vet­er­an) parents.
        2.  Din­ner at a nice restaurant.
        3.  Tick­ets to the orches­tra or a concert.
        4.  An evening at a din­ner theatre.
        5.  A car­riage ride around the city at night.
        6.  A gift cer­tifi­cate for a half-day at a spa.
        7.  Tick­ets to a sport­ing event.
        8.  Gift cer­tifi­cates for car detailing.
        9.  A nice bot­tle of wine and some won­der­ful cheese.
      10. A mon­th’s worth of per­son­al chef services.

These gifts of expe­ri­ence are the kind that will long be remem­bered even after they are used, which means you’ll be remem­bered fond­ly at the same time.

Extra Spe­cial Gift Idea
Agree that you’ll each pick a tag from an “Angel Tree” and pur­chase a gift for a needy or fos­ter child in your area. Get togeth­er to have hol­i­day snacks and wrap your Angel Tree gifts before you take them back to leave under the tree.

There are many oth­er gifts of time, expe­ri­ence, or ser­vices that you could give. If you have an idea for one that isn’t on the list, write and tell me, so I can include it in next mon­th’s newslet­ter. Hap­py hol­i­day planning!

Cyn is Rick's wife, Katie's Mom, and Esther & Oliver's Mémé. She's also a professional geek, avid reader, fledgling coder, enthusiastic gamer (TTRPGs), occasional singer, and devoted stitcher.
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