Gift-receiving

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Janette Janette
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Gift-receiving

How do you gracefully handle family who want to give you things even though you have stated that you don't want things? My husband and I asked for money or quality time for Christmas. My mother-in-law just informed us that she has decided to give us "several little gifts" instead.

Help! How to get people to understand without hurting their feelings??
Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Re: Gift-receiving

This is a personal issue, and there's no right or wrong, but there are more effective ways of handling the matter ;)
In some situations, as perhaps with distant relatives, newer or more distant friends, or anyone who just won't understand, personally, I would generally just accept the gift(s), but soon enough, donate or re-gift them.

Then, I *might* mention (depending on how appropriate it felt) that while this was very kind of them, they "really shouldn't" go to the trouble in the future, as you are going to be undertaking a "nothing new" experiment over the coming year, and mention that you'll report back in a year to let them know how it's going.

For family and close friends, and those you feel can 'handle' it, if they don't already know better, i would make a point of noting prior to the next expected gifting time (like an upcoming birthday or holiday) that you can't wait to connect with them on/about the holiday, but to remember that gifts will not be accepted, and in fact, that you've made a vow to donate all gifts to charity, no matter how lovely the items. Remind them why---that you are undertaking a different lifestyle and are in need of eliminating/pairing down, and believe that you already have all that you need.

Personally, I think suggesting money/gift cards or specific items can sometimes come across as crass, or at leas un-fun, as it takes away the joy of giving for many folks--to not be able to choose/surprise the giftee. But if it feels appropriate, then by all means, let them know what are acceptable gifts, and that all others will be donated.

Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Re: Gift-receiving

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ps. in fact, you could also make a point of giving "gifts" to folks that they are likely not to forget (such as homemade cloth "paper towels"), to remind them of the type of lifestyle you lead, as well as, of what might be an appropriate gift.
Janette Janette
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Re: Gift-receiving

Thank you for the great ideas, Steph. The person I have trouble with is my mother-in-law. My husband and I have had a no gifts policy for years, and she continues to disrespect our wishes.

The reason we ask for money is that she always asks what we want, and we feel like we have to say something. Then she gets whatever she thinks we should have, whether it's useful or joyful for us or not. It's not about the surprise factor because she always tells us ahead of time what she already got us.

This year, she got me a subscription to a food magazine. I'm on a special diet for medical reasons and can't follow most regular recipes. She knows this. Meanwhile, she says she is sad that she couldn't afford a magazine subscription for herself. Also, I've told her over and over how paper clutter is one of the biggest challenges in our home, and that I rarely have time to read.

I know I probably sound mean and ungrateful, but aren't gifts supposed to be about blessing the recipient, not fulfilling your own needs?

It's hard to graciously receive something knowing my family member wasted her money on something I can't use and that will be a burden to me trying to figure out what to do with it and how to honor her kind gesture, when she's on a tight budget and she sacrificed getting something she wanted for herself.

On Nov 29, 2012 1:28 AM, "Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
ps. in fact, you could also make a point of giving "gifts" to folks that they are likely not to forget (such as homemade cloth "paper towels"), to remind them of the type of lifestyle you lead, as well as, of what might be an appropriate gift.


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Jay Jay
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Re: Gift-receiving

This post was updated on .
Difficult question, Great Answer! Just my 2ยข:

Probably rude, but with the magazine subscription you could put in an address change, and have sent to your MIL :-)) Just say you're still on the special diet, can't use, and since she was interested. It'd be a monthly reminder, if nothing else!

Anyhow, as a rule of survival I tried to stay out of any difficult conversations with the In-Laws, and left that to DH. In-Laws are by definition awkward if not down right difficult. With grandchildren it gets even more complicated. We ended up with closets stuffed with expensive clothes and toys, when we would have wished for savings bonds, stocks, a 529, etc. If a family is in your future I would work very hard now (via DH if possible) to get all In-Laws on board with your gift-receiving thoughts*.
Otherwise, it sounds like it may not be worth the effort. People don't like change and though the recipient is supposed to be foremost  in one's thoughts, saying "nothing" is often heard as "I can't think of anything", which then becomes a challenge to the giver to be creative, and not meant to be disrespectful. Then again   ... see above :-))

Maybe ask for something home made - food (for DH), handmade ornament, etc.
If you still get bought presents, they'll make a nice donation to a charity. A clinic or library would love the magazines, BTW. Just look on them as opportunities to "bless" someone else. A general note to all family members -within a greeting card (?)- ahead of time will cover you.

Anyhow, everyone- enjoy the Holidays as they were meant to be, sharing good times with family and loved ones.

(*A lesson we didn't learn soon enough: We just donated over 100 Beanie Babies, which out of guilt I had kept for close to 15 years. Oh well!)
Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Re: Gift-receiving

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i've had similar issues in the past with my mother...i feel your pain.
Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Re: Gift-receiving

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good "cents" jay!
Janette Janette
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Re: Gift-receiving

Hi everyone,

Just wanted to follow up. Nothing we tried during Christmas really worked; our wishes were not respected no matter how much explaining we did. My husband doesn't think that will change in the future.

I'm still not sure what I'll do about the magazine subscriptions (turns out she got me two of them). I do like the change-of-address idea, although I'm not sure it's worth the conflict. If I don't do that and I do receive the magazines, I'm still dealing with the problem of feeling the pressure to read them (at least look through them) even though I don't have time and 90% of the articles won't apply to me. I still feel bad that she spent the money on me. Guess that is my problem, though. :)

Thanks for all of the suggestions!

On Fri, Nov 30, 2012 at 9:20 AM, Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) [via Forum] <[hidden email]> wrote:
good "cents" jay!


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Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Re: Gift-receiving

Sometimes (heck--often) all we can control is ourselves. At least you know you tried and that now you must come up with an "after" plan for how to handle such "gifts". I think detaching from the idea of feeling guilt over not reading them is a part of gradually developing your after plan. I now have a dedicated area for any items I immediately see and know I do not want to keep, but that can be donated or otherwise gotten rid of, without disposing of the items in the trash bin.

Good luck and thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Steph in Berkeley
Janette Janette
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Re: Gift-receiving

Thanks, Steph! Your words are very encouraging!

Janette

On Dec 30, 2012 9:49 AM, "Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Sometimes (heck--often) all we can control is ourselves. At least you know you tried and that now you must come up with an "after" plan for how to handle such "gifts". I think detaching from the idea of feeling guilt over not reading them is a part of gradually developing your after plan. I now have a dedicated area for any items I immediately see and know I do not want to keep, but that can be donated or otherwise gotten rid of, without disposing of the items in the trash bin.

Good luck and thanks for sharing your journey with us.

Steph in Berkeley


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Jay Jay
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Re: Gift-receiving

In reply to this post by Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
Well said Steph!
Regarding the address change idea, I doubt I'd risk turmoil within the family if all else is [relatively!] peaceful. Maybe a neighbor, etc. would want the magazines, so they don't even enter your home. That, or stick in the trunk of your car and donate ASAP. It's a biggy for me: controlling what comes in the door. No persisting guilt, temptation, etc. On the other hand, if you yardsale, you'd be surprised what people will buy!

I'm sure, in general, Goodwill, etc. benefit this time of year from all the unwanted, unreturnable gifts.
Oh well.

You'll come up with what works best for you. Hope the rest of the holiday was joyful.
Janette Janette
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Re: Gift-receiving

I just had a great idea! I volunteer at Ronald McDonald houses once a month. That would be a great place to donate the magazines--one magazine for each house. I'm sure families staying there would appreciate them.

I'm committing to sticking the magazines in my pet therapy bag and taking them with me each time, read or unread. That will give me a cutoff point that if I haven't had the time or the interest to read them, they must go anyway each month.

Thanks for your support, everyone! Decluttering and living less wastefully can be harder than it seems!

Janette

On Dec 30, 2012 12:41 PM, "Jay [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Well said Steph!
Regarding the address change idea, I doubt I'd risk turmoil within the family if all else is [relatively!] peaceful. Maybe a neighbor, etc. would want the magazines, so they don't even enter your home. That, or stick in the trunk of your car and donate ASAP. It's a biggy for me: controlling what comes in the door. No persisting guilt, temptation, etc. On the other hand, if you yardsale, you'd be surprised what people will buy!

I'm sure, in general, Goodwill, etc. benefit this time of year from all the unwanted, unreturnable gifts.
Oh well.

You'll come up with what works best for you. Hope the rest of the holiday was joyful.


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Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife) Steph in Berkeley (mywastelesslife)
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Re: Gift-receiving

Yay! That's a fantastic solution/idea! --Good for you ;)
r r
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Re: Gift-receiving

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Give her a task-related gift idea.

My mother regularly inundates my husband, daughter, and me with gifts that are well-intentioned but not things we would like or use. This year she wanted to buy me something for a special occasion but she struggles with money and we don't plus she and I don't share the same tastes. What to do?

I thought it would make her feel good if I asked to borrow a ring she seldom wears, for three months. The ring isn't particularly valuable but I like it and have more fun knowing it's on loan.

Is there something you might want to have as a loan gift from your MIL? I think my own gift-giving-motivated mother was happy with this solution because she could box, wrap, and send something and I could thank her for it. That's what she really wanted--to feel generous and to receive gratitude. It's up to those of us who don't want any material gifts to let the givers have their happy feelings while we manage to keep all the unwanted stuff from our doorsteps.
Sanna Sanna
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Re: Gift-receiving

Hi!
I am struggling with some relatives in a similar way. My solution is to give out "wish lists" for items I truly will use, for example a bar of good soap, a gift certificate for theater tickets or other places I like to go to, coffee or tea, some things that broke in the last year and need replacing etc. Also, if someone has a special skill and fun crafting I ask for homemade things, like a new pair of socks, jam etc, sometimes also a repair (e.g. when some advanced sewing are involved, I then get the repaired thing back for the holiday). With some I also have a "tradition" of exchanging used books as presents, which is nice as well as I get to read some books a friend or family member loved reading. I sometimes get a book in a thrift store for them which I myself borrowed from the library before, and liked.
This year I gave my friend for her birthday a makeover of some of her outdoor furniture - I added a new coat of paint and made two new cushion covers for the old worn and torn ones. She dreads stuff like that and for me it was a nice thing to do, at the same time preventing her from buying new. I find that by the things I give, I am also giving people ideas about creative things they could give to me and the presents have become better over the last years. There's less overall and especially less useless stuff.
Janette Janette
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Re: Gift-receiving

Thank you both. These are all wonderful ideas. I think my problem stems from the fact that in the past (even before I cared about zero waste) my husband and I have given my MIL wish lists and suggestions for gifts, and our requests have always gone unheeded.

Right now, I have a milk crate full of new, unread magazines that were her most recent Christmas gift. I had planned to donate them to the charity where I volunteer, but I keep forgetting to take them with me. Now seeing the unread material is bringing up all this stuff for me--reading is indeed one of my greatest passions, and she was on the right track with her idea for a gift, knowing that I love to read. What has my life become that I don't even have time to read two magazines a month??

Which goes back to the importance of ensuring that gifts really are gifts. She certainly didn't intend to give me something that would cause me guilt, sadness, and depression.

Janette

On Jul 1, 2013 3:17 AM, "Sanna [via Forum]" <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi!
I am struggling with some relatives in a similar way. My solution is to give out "wish lists" for items I truly will use, for example a bar of good soap, a gift certificate for theater tickets or other places I like to go to, coffee or tea, some things that broke in the last year and need replacing etc. Also, if someone has a special skill and fun crafting I ask for homemade things, like a new pair of socks, jam etc, sometimes also a repair (e.g. when some advanced sewing are involved, I then get the repaired thing back for the holiday). With some I also have a "tradition" of exchanging used books as presents, which is nice as well as I get to read some books a friend or family member loved reading. I sometimes get a book in a thrift store for them which I myself borrowed from the library before, and liked.
This year I gave my friend for her birthday a makeover of some of her outdoor furniture - I added a new coat of paint and made two new cushion covers for the old worn and torn ones. She dreads stuff like that and for me it was a nice thing to do, at the same time preventing her from buying new. I find that by the things I give, I am also giving people ideas about creative things they could give to me and the presents have become better over the last years. There's less overall and especially less useless stuff.


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