Several of you have mentioned that you have received a few (or many, many several zillion) gifts from loved ones (or random co-workers/students/neighbors), and they’re just not your style (or you have absolutely no use for them).
To get rid of them would scream, “Ungrateful!” Or “busted,” as the case may be. “Whatever happened to that ice cream scoop warmer I bought you last Christmas? You still have it, don’t you?”
So what do we do about these things, you cry.
I don’t know.
But I have a few ideas. Let me tell you what I’ve done in the past, and then share some wisdom from a few of YOU.
First of all, if I receive something I don’t want/can’t use/think to be ugly, impractical, whatever, and I can return it to the store for money or credit, I’d do it (and have done it).
If that’s not possible, I try to find someone who would appreciate (even love) the gift and re-gift it. I can either be sly about it or just tell them the deal. Gifts like these are good for office party gift exchanges. Or even extended family ones. Gabe’s dad’s family celebrates Christmas before the 25th, and my dad’s fam after, so that worked.
Let me just say that I think there’s a time and place for keeping something awful that someone very special gave you (especially if it’s handmade). I don’t want to sound like a spoiled brat who’s super picky and doesn’t appreciate anything. Here’s what I hate: that someone I love spent their hard-earned money on something that isn’t going to be a blessing to me like they hoped.
A better plan is to get to the source of the problem. Lots and lots of gifts being given and received and not a lot of relationship-building and intangible gifts of time, love, and laughs.
Over the past few years, we’ve really started re-thinking Christmas gifts. Our kids were getting waaaaay too many (they were so overwhelmed they couldn’t really even enjoy them). And we were throwing all our money to the mega-stores to buy people things they didn’t even need (and they were doing the same for us).
Here’s what we’ve done in my immediate family (my parents and siblings) recently. We four sisters exchange names and make a handmade gift. Last year, my sister Bethany made me a quilt out of my girls’ baby/toddler clothes. One year, Steph made me jewelry and a painting. And one year Jess knitted me a scarf and gloves.
My brother, brothers-in-law, and Gabe exchange names and trade $25 gift cards or $25 in cash (pennies if you’re Stewart).
The cousins each have a name and buy a small gift.
And my mom and dad have done money for everyone since forever ago, and we love it. We parents will often take the money and buy what we know our kids want. This year all five of us are taking our money and running (to Cambodia).
Weaning our girls off a ton of gifts has been one of the best things we’ve ever done as parents. They appreciate each thing so much more now and find more joy in the other parts of the holidays–fellowship, game-playing, eating, laughing, giving to those in need.
Here are some great ideas a couple of you shared yesterday:
From Valerie (TX): I too have some gifts (expensive ones!) from well-intentioned family members – stuff I’ve had for years and NEVER used. It’s going on ebay to raise money for my mission trip next summer!
From Sharon: We no longer give gifts on birthdays (except to kids and the parents make a wish list, so they get what they are okay with bringing into their home). Instead, we get together once a year to celebrate all the adults birthdays. We go out to eat and pay for ourselves.
For Christmas it’s been a huge struggle to agree on anything as a family. For a while we did white elephant gifts, which I LOVED! Only buying (and receiving) one gift (well, plus a gift for each kid) was awesome. But some people wanted to buy for everyone.
So, last year everyone did what they wanted. We got some stuff that we won’t ever use and I just put some of the items in a pile of things to donate. My husband and I started a new tradition last year of giving money to a charity in our families name. I made little cards explaining what we are doing, based on the Advent Conspiracy.
We have sold high priced gifts from in-laws on Craigslist and I just pray when my sis-in-law visits that she doesn’t ask to use the electric hot water thing. Or the wine glasses. Lately she’s been sending us an Entertainment book each year – we LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this gift.
One lady I met at the zoo said she has the grandparents buy a zoo membership for her family as a gift each Christmas. I think that is a fantastic idea.
What other ideas (or fears) do you have about preventing/getting rid of unwanted gifts?