Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

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Debbie Debbie
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Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

Could we use this thread to discuss ways of politely refusing gifts?

In the last 2 weeks I have received 3 or 4 gadgets that I do not want. It sounds like I am an ingrate but in reality I just want my freedom from "stuff".

The persons giving me this stuff loves to buy and loves to give gifts-- so I do not want to hurt  feelings. On 2 of the gifts I was able to return them to the store (without a receipt so I just got store credit)----- but that created an errand I did not want to do.  I already tried telling the giver that I am decluttering and do not want a lot of stuff but she does not quit.
Any suggestions?

Thanks a lot!
Julie Julie
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

I could use some help with this too. I recently had this discussion with my mom and I had to say, "I don't want to sound ungrateful, but, well, I guess I am." I could say that because it was my mom, but what do you say to friends and acquaintances??
Nia Nia
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by Debbie
I'm bummed to see there are no suggestions yet. I guess there's no easy way to refuse gifts. We've been on a quest to reduce the waste in our lives as well. Not an easy task, but worth it!

It would be one thing if I or my husband were the intended recipients, but it's so much harder when family members send gifts for the kids. Last week we received several large boxes of toys and clothes for our boys from a loving uncle. Some of the toys came separately in their own large box with stuffing, tape, etc. to protect a large plastic/cardboard box containing the toy. The packaging for plastic toys is already frustrating in itself, but to pack it as though it were a crystal vase is ridiculous.

I suppose I could have told the kids, "Sorry, you're not opening these because they will create waste" and then send it back to "loving uncle" and let him know he should find another way to love, but I guess I'm not ready to go there yet.

The more I read what Bea says, the more I realize that this will take a bit of effort to communicate to everyone what you are trying to do and to be serious about it. I think the key would be to let everyone know well before birthdays and special occasions where gifts are received.
Roberta Roberta
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by Debbie
I don't know if this will work for you, but I have tried this with different levels of success.

The next time you see your friend, start telling her how excited you are about this "new,"  no-waste thing.  Talk about how you've started decluttering, and how it has made you realise but blessed you are, and how much you want to share your surplus.  Talk about how free you feel when you have less stuff to deal with.  Then tell her that you are not going to let any new stuff into your how, except essentials like food.  Be enthusiastic.  

She may of may not listen for a while.  Keep talking about the things you now realise you don't need.

My mother-in-law took a really long time to get this.  My mother is taking even longer (with the kids).  I am starting to talk about how the kids need college funds, and see if I can get donations to accompany a (really small) gift, instead of getting a big gift that they neither want nor need.  MIL is getting pretty good about that.  

Good luck, and hang in there!
Scott Scott
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by Nia
We have made a point to tell our families that our kids prefer to have experiences vs. stuff (that many times breaks or sits unused on a shelf).  So for example, we have made a list of experiences / activities that the kids would love to have:
- Movie tickets
- House of Air session (a local trampoline gym)
- Planet Granite session (local rock climbing gym)
- Gift Certificate for ice cream at our local gelato store
- Lunch date on their own at a favorite restaurant
- etc.

That has pretty much helped to transition our families and friends to this lifestyle...
CMD CMD
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

This is great. For my wedding anniversary, we went to this exclusive spa outside of Lyons/Estes Park, CO and had brunch beforehand and lunch afterward. This was so much more awesome than buying each other "stuff." Experiences are far more fun and memorable. We had a very, very enjoyable and relaxing day. And my husband highly recommends hot stone massages now. :)

Ticagirl Ticagirl
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

I just sent an email to my close family telling them that they do not need to get any Christmas gifts for me since I have been trying to live a simpler, happier more responsible life and that Earthday had reminded me of this. So take advantage of the Earthday hype and write an email to your friends and relatives today!!!

Cheers!
Aaron Aaron
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by Debbie
You can always pass along or donate the gifts. Obviously it's better to not get them to begin with, or to receive a non-wasteful gift, but if it's really not socially feasible to say no, pass it along.

No need to look at it as "creating an errand", either. If you're working on minimizing your waste, you're probably also working on minimizing your clutter, which means you're probably doing a thrift store donation run every few weeks anyway. I have a cookie jar that I got for Christmas and absolutely don't need, so I just kept it in the cupboard for a few months and when I got rid of some clothes for spring, I brought it to the thrift store at the same time!
busybride busybride
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by Debbie
Hi All! I have a drafted email that I have to polish up, but I'm sending this to all our friends and families. I'm not at all concerned about offending them; they have to respect our new lifestyle (plus it saves them money!) Here's the email:

"Dear Family and Friends,

We, as a family, have decided to strive to be as waste free as possible. It’ll take a lot to get there, and we’ll really need your help. The four steps to doing this are: Refuse. Reduce. Reuse. Recycle.

This means refusing waste before it coming in the house; it seems that everything nowadays is covered in plastic, and individually wrapped. Reduce is reducing the amount of “stuff” you have in your home means you spend less time taking care of it; we all dust books we never read. Reuse: find another purpose for the sheets you’re about to give away; make some nifty sacks to bring to the grocery store! And as a last resort, recycle what you must.

Here’s the blog that got me started:
http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/

And here’s a cheat sheet of the blog:
http://zerowastehome.blogspot.com/p/tips.html

So, what we’re basically asking is that you don’t purchase things for us anymore; no more cards, no more toys, books, movies, etc. We have everything that we need, and we’re getting rid of a lot of it! What we would love is if you would call, email and visit more often. We love all of you so much that we’d rather take your time than take your money. If you absolutely feel as though you simply cannot stop yourself from giving our 2 year old something (I’m assuming my husband & I should be easy not to buy for), please make a contribution to her college fund. However, we are not asking you to, this is a last-resort-money-burns-a-hole-in-your-pocket thing. The things we treasure the most in our home is the time we spend together, the memories we’ve created, and the digital photos we have of all of you, because you are such a huge part of our lives."

Wrennerd Wrennerd
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

bb -- I think this is great, and the final paragraph is the clincher! Just curious: Is this something to accompany wedding invitations to stave off unnecessary gifts at that stage, or just a general email?

The reason I ask is 1) your name on the forum and 2) I knew someone who had a very tasteful request in their wedding invites for no gifts, preferring cash to reduce their student debts instead. It is on my mind because I just attended a bridal shower this weekend, and while most of the gifts came from the registry and were in fact necessary for setting up house, I cringed at the bucket of toxic cleaning products provided by one well-meaning well-wisher and some of the other unnecessary stuff that the bride will discover unused in a cabinet years from now...
busybride busybride
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

Hi there!

This is general email; I've been married for years now, it's just my username. We actaully didn't register when we got married, we didn't need anything. My sisters were furious! "How are people supposed to get you something? Now they'll just buy something and you'll be stuck with it!" That didn't happen, we just got cash. We did get some "crap" but we just gave it away.

My bridal shower was another story. i didn't want one, and they went over board with travel size crap, and nick-nacks of all sorts. I was not happy.

Now, we get so many toys and books for my toddler, and I'm just sick of it. The greeting cards are killing me. Zero waste makes so much sense to, it's why my gut has been telling me for 15 years, and now it has a name and a plan of action!

I just sent it last night; no reactions so far, but I'll let you know.
Wrennerd Wrennerd
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As the holidays approach...

Isn't it funny that the privations we foist upon ourselves feel so much like a luxury? Eating my dinner on solid plates with solid forks while drinking from real glasses and wiping my hands on cloth napkins, I feel oddly guilty enjoying myself so much while there are still people eating their dinners on paper...

While I fully recognize that these "solid" things are not eternal, this sense of luxury makes me wonder how best to share the wealth-less-ness, especially during the holidays? How best could we inspire others to share the wealth retained by practicing ZW with others who haven't the luxury of plates or even food? If our ZW savings could go to a cause, what cause do people think best reflects ZW principles globally?

Moreover, what else might we have dismissed because we imagined it to be a deprivation? :)
busybride busybride
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by busybride
Hey everyone,
Just wanted to follow up on the email I sent out to all family & friends. Not many reactions, but those I got were positive. My family is a little miffed, but not too bad (and I don't care) and my friends are dying to know how we do it! And now my sister-in-law is totally on board and we send each other tips all the time.

I highly recommend sending out an email; my inlaws love knick knacks and all that crap, so now that I've put my foot down, I have no problem handing them back what they bring into my house.
morselbit morselbit
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

busybride , the one who wrote the letter to family and friends and states she doesn't care about others reactions... you are acting self-centered and selfish. There is something about grandparenting that we love our grandchildren and like to show it with gifts. Is your satisfaction more important than theirs ? Should not you be grateful someone cares enough to buy you or your two year old a gift ? Throw it in the garbage or regift it if you must but how dare you tell others what they can and can not do ? Shame on You.
Jay Jay
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

Busybride, stay strong!
Sandra Sandra
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by morselbit
I think you've misunderstood the intent of busybride's letter. She is asking her family and friends to respect the needs of her household while letting them know that their presence in her life is what matters most.

Love for your grandchildren can be shown in many ways. Often the most meaningful ones are in the form of a simple phone call, email, or visit. My fondest memories of my grandparents are the times I've spent with them. Isn't it more satisfying to be able to share experiences with your grandchildren, than to be remembered for the toy you brought?
Jay Jay
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by busybride
BusyBride,  just processed your comment about the glut of greeting cards. You, and anyone else, might be interested in the Recycled Card Program at St Jude's Ranch. Haven't participated, but looks like a great idea.

Sandra: Well said.
Stephanie Stephanie
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by morselbit
I understand where both she and you are coming from.  I hate to hurt someone's feelings and I know that the grandparents are only trying to show love.  I know my mom wouldn't appreciate a giftless Christmas tree on Christmas morning.  As a solution, I have decided to let my children have one gift each from Santa and one gift each from Mom and Dad.  As for the grandparents, I have suggested they provide season passes for local children's museums,amusement parks, the zoo, or the aquarium.  My children love those places and I think they would get more use from learning and having fun than from a toy they will play with 10 minutes and then ignore.
Jay Jay
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

Wow, this is an excellent time to be discussing gifting. We have a window, now, to share with family and friends our thoughts before this gift giving season begins in earnest.
Giving experiences is a wonderful idea. Interestingly, there was a segment on the news recently about shopping malls and how storefront businesses are leaving and mall owners are replacing with entertainment activities, especially for kids. They mentioned a kid's museum, a trampoline filled spot, etc. How great that malls are including the opportunity to "purchase" experiences!
On the other hand, one has to be sensitive to expectations from other family members. I recall gifting a savings bond to a very young niece, and her parents had the most confused look on their face! I suspect they long ago lost the bond, *sigh*. Would have been a tidy sum of $ by now.
busybride busybride
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Re: Refusing Gifts from well-meaning friends and family

In reply to this post by morselbit
I am self-centered and selfish. You're right. I've asked my family repeatedly to not send me, my husband or my daughter (who cannot read!!) greeting cards, and they do it anyway. Multiple cards to each of on the same holidays, some we (as in our entire family) don't even celebrate. I'd rather get a phone call and talk to them, but they do what they want instead. Now they do neither. They do not see the benefit in a phone call, and I do not see the benefit in a card.

Her grandparents give her thoughtless presents that they cannot afford because they constantly shop instead of save for their retirement (nearly upon them). So no, I'm not grateful that everyone in our families seems to want to buy my two year old plastic crap she doesn't need that they can't afford. I also don't want her to expect gifts from people all the time. I want her to be excided because Grandpa is coming, not because of what Grandpa is bringing. To sugest that I throw these gifts in the garbage is thoughtless. For them never to have to buy it in the first place is ideal.

And I do dare tell people every day what to do. I'm that arrogant and right. Thanks for noticing.
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