Ask Unclutterer: Receiving unwanted gifts

Reader Wendy submitted the following to Ask Unclutterer:

What do you do when you come from a culture where gifting is part of etiquette? For example, when my daughter turned one recently, my mother who happened to be visiting from our home country brought back TONS of clothing (whether the right size or not) and toys for my daughter. It was overwhelming. Most of the items are either not usable in the near future, or my daughter has no interest. I don’t have a problem going through and donating or re-gifting, but it takes so much of my time! Should I just talk to my mother although she may get upset? Thanks!

I know it can be frustrating to be bombarded with stuff you don’t need. And, the smaller your space, the larger that frustration can feel. As frustrated as you’re feeling, though, the last thing you should do is tell your mother that she can’t give your daughter gifts.

Showering grandchildren with gifts is one of the joys of being a grandparent. It is clear that your mother is thrilled to have your daughter in her life, and one of the ways she is expressing that is by giving her as many wonderful things as she can. As much as it feels to you like a burden, her generosity is a blessing. Not all kids have grandparents who show interest in them or give gifts or are alive.

Remember that it’s the act of gift giving that is important, not the gift itself. Tell your mother thank you for being so generous with your daughter. Accept the gifts, write her a note of appreciation (have your daughter do this when she learns to write), and then decide what you want to do with the items after your mom has returned home.

Keep the things your daughter wants or that you think she can use in the near future. Donate to charity clothing that won’t ever work for your daughter. Re-gift toys that weren’t a hit with her. If your mother purchased items in the states, see if you can return the unwanted items for ones your daughter can use. It does take time, but not more than a few hours, and it won’t damage your relationship with your mother.

Although you can’t tell your mother what to buy for her granddaughter, you can suggest to her what your daughter needs and wants. Two months before the next gift-giving holiday, let it slip into conversation if your daughter needs or wants specific items like a new bed or new shoes (and what size) or a membership to the local zoo or dance lessons. If she’s computer savvy, create an Amazon wishlist and let her know about it to help her brainstorm gift ideas.

Don’t pressure your mom into buying things your daughter needs or wants. Don’t give her a guilt trip or hint in any way that you have been disappointed with gifts she has given in the past. Just let her know what your daughter could use, and then let it go. Whatever your mother decides to give is up to her, and her act of gift giving should be sincerely appreciated — irrespective of if you keep the gift or not.

As a final note, I want to point out that some of my son’s favorite things are gifts generous friends and family members gave to him that I never would have purchased or thought my son would have loved. Conversely, some things we put on his wishlist that we thought he would love, turned out to be total duds.

Thank you, Wendy, for submitting your question for our Ask Unclutterer column.

Do you have a question relating to organizing, cleaning, home and office projects, productivity, or any problems you think the Unclutterer team could help you solve? To submit your questions to Ask Unclutterer, go to our contact page and type your question in the content field. Please list the subject of your e-mail as “Ask Unclutterer.” If you feel comfortable sharing images of the spaces that trouble you, let us know about them. The more information we have about your specific issue, the better.

70 Comments for “Ask Unclutterer: Receiving unwanted gifts”

  1. posted by Laden with crap on

    I’m all for promoting good relationships with family; even if they do clutter up your house but there is a limit.

    When I went to my family for Christmas I was given loads of presents I didn’t want. I had made amazon lists in advance and said that I didn’t want a lot but instead of buying me one gift from the list I got several from everyone plus some huge books and kitchenware that I was expected to take home hundreds of miles on public transport. It was all very stressful and in the end I did have to leave some gifts behind because I physically couldn’t carry them.

    In my experience being subtle hasn’t worked. One year my family agreed to no presents only to go behind my back and buy me lots when I didn’t give any back which was very upsetting. I have now realised that they are unable to let festivals pass without buying stuff but is it too much to ask them to keep it to a minimum?

    To me what my family did was to disrespect my wishes and not think about how their gifts would affect me (both emotionally and physically). I haven’t told them they aren’t allowed to give me gifts but surely a compromise is reasonable.

    In regards to the question above; giving your grandchild (actually her parent) more stuff than she needs is fulfilling a selfish need. Yes the poster should be grateful but her mother should also resect her wishes. But good luck with stopping her.

  2. posted by Angela on

    Great advice! I am always AMAZED and saddened when people are annoyed or bothered by gifts (@Laden with Crap). Allow grandparents to do their thing and pray that you will live long enough and have the means to one day shower your grandchildren with gifts.

  3. posted by irishbell on

    I totally agree with erin. think of all the people who only WISH they had parents/grandparents that bought them too much!

    it simply isn’t right to tell your family what gifts to buy for you-unless-they ASK YOU- then by all means tell them what you’d like.
    whether the reasons behind the gift giving are selfish or not, doesn’t matter.

    i’ve had this same issue with my mom my whole life(54 years)and while most of the gifts went to goodwill and i got extremely frustrated (and even angry) at times, I knew it would break her heart if i told her nobody used or wanted all the gifts she spent her time and money on. at one point i suggested gift cards, it did not go over well. she would no more look at an amazon wish list than she would ride a horse naked like Lady Godiva.
    i don’t see anything wrong with diplomatically suggesting LESS gifts, however.

    if you truly value your relationship with the gift giver, just be happy they are in your life and that they enjoy doing things for you.

    as far as not being able to get everything home with you, suggest what you cannot fit in your luggage be sent to you (at the givers expense).

    a gift is exactly that – a gift.

  4. posted by Frances on

    This reminds me of holidays with my family. I fear the day we have kids for them to pamper as well. I’ve tried everything you recommended but my mom and grandmother have always felt the need to stack the tree with gifts. It takes hours to open all our presents and that’s even when we do it as fast as possible. Mostly this is because my family has a shopping addiction. They like getting us Christmas knickknacks and kitchen unitaskers. We always thank them profusely because every once in a blue moon they also bestow us with something we’ve really been admiring. When we get home we pick out the one or two things that we truly appreciated and everything else goes to charity before the dust settles. When they come to visit and ask about a gift I’ve not displayed I am honest about it “it didn’t fit”. I have mentioned frequently how much I admire my husband’s family for their one gift policy. Maybe someday it will sink in.

  5. posted by Jen on

    Gifts must be the hardest category of clutter to deal with. Emotions are involved. For instance, my grown daughter keeps things I gave her that I now see are useless clutter in her life, and she admits she doesn’t like or need thse things, but has kept them because I gave them to her. I gave her permission to let them go, even encouraged her to do so, but she can’t, because of the emotional attachment.

    Now, I look for gifts that don’t take up physical space, like dinner out, donations to our local animal shelter, etc. I went to Africa recently and brought my daughter a wonderful gift: she is now fostering a baby elephant from http://www.sheldrickwildlifetrust.org. They send her regular emails about her elephant. She was thrilled with this gift!

  6. posted by Marcie Lovett on

    I disagree with the premise that you can’t ask people to stop buying gifts. You can tell people that you appreciate their generosity and you love that they think of you and your children; however, you live in a small space and can’t accomodate more stuff.

    Instead, suggest that what you really want is to spend time with them. Giving them alternatives to physical gifts, like going to a show, children’s museum or the zoo, allows them to do something with you and keeps you from having more stuff.

    For someone like Wendy, whose family has to travel to visit, you might say that you don’t want her burdened with packing so much stuff, that you can shop when she gets here. That allows you to suggest more appropriate gifts.

    If none of these ideas works, then you have to accept that the gift-giver is not going to change and you can give away the gifts after you have gracefully accepted them.

  7. posted by Lynsey on

    I’ve seen similar things happen in my family. One of my aunts eventually spoke to her mother-in-law about the overgifting and simply said, “We’re so grateful for your generosity, but we simply can’t handle the volume of toys and clothes you’ve given to our children.” They then had a conversation about how her mother-in-law could still be generous without burdening my aunt and uncle, who had four daughters and a work-at-home-office in a three bedroom house.

  8. posted by Carrie Bean on

    Great advice, Erin.

    I agree you shouldn’t deprive grandparents the joy of being generous with their grandchildren. If the gifts are truly given from the heart, let them. It’s not worth it to prioritize your own desire to lead an uncluttered lifestyle ABOVE your (and your child’s) good relationship with your parent.

    With my 11-month old daughter being far away from all her grandparents, I’ve found it a good idea to take pictures of my daughter opening/enjoying her gift and sending that photo to the giver of the gift (or post on Facebook and tag the giver). If it’s something that really can’t be used, re-gift or donate it after that photo is taken. The memory of the gift will live on.

  9. posted by CDG on

    This is great advice – people are more important than things. If it’s not a relationship problem, don’t make it one! :P I understand the frustration. Of course, go ahead and try to make your desires known as much as your relationship with the person allows, but then thank them profusely and do what you have to do with what they give.

  10. posted by momoboys on

    Wow. I experience this “problem” often, but I figure it goes with the territory of child-rearing. Um…isn’t the most *uncluttered* path the path of graciousness? I’m with Erin. You can’t really expect others to meet your standards, even if you do think the volume of gifts is excessive or the quality questionable.

    I’ve had carseats given to me for use with my children (dirty, old, bought *used*–um, no thanks), strollers, bedding, tons of clothes and toys and stuffed animals…many things we’d never consider, but many odd and wonderful things the kids loved, too. I take a cue from my kids here…they just appreciate these things b/c they love their grandma and grandpa. Soon my children will be teenagers, and, I suppose, only want money or electronics for Christmas and barely pay any attention to the elders in their life.

    PS My local crisis nursery/annual church rummage sale/transitional housing charities are THRILLED with our castaways. So what if it costs me time to launder these items, drive them to the drop-off, etc?

  11. posted by lisa on

    Maybe you could suggest to her that instead of spending money on gifts, she could spend it on airfare, and come and visit more often, as that’s what you and your daughter would really love and appreciate. Or she could spend it on a laptop with a webcam in it, and could learn to Skype, so she and your daughter could talk to each other frequently, and she could “be there’ for family events. We recently had a family birthday, comlete with candle blowing and happy birthday singing via Skype with out of town family. It was lots of fun.

    On the other hand, she may be getting a great deal on what she buys. My late father-in-law bought boxes of clothing for my daughters, most of which didn’t fit. But, there were enough good items in there that my daughters still remember getting from him that they don’t remember the rejects. Knowing he was buying things for very little money made me less concerned, and I passed along all the clothing that wasn’t right to others who needed it.

  12. posted by Leslie on

    I’m with Laden with crap. I’ve even been asked to create a wish list, but then the giver buys everything on the list, which causes problems for others trying to shop off the list. While I do try to appreciate the generosity, the subsequent months the giver spends struggling to pay bills and buy food because she over spent on gifts completely spoils it for me. For gifts bought locally, I will sometimes ask for the receipt to exchange because something doesn’t fit. I then have the item credited back to her credit card and it’s months before she ever notices and by then, the emotional attachment to gift giving has waned. Sometimes being sneaky works.

  13. posted by Amanda on

    Great post and thanks for including the part about sometimes the items on the parent-created list were duds, while friend/family gifts turned out spectacular. Sometimes insight comes from the least expected sources.

  14. posted by Abby on

    It is easy to say that Wendy should just accept her mom’s gifts with a grateful heart, but I’m in Wendy’s shoes. Generosity can become toxic.

    In our family, gifts have strings. They are cataloged and inquired after. It is expected that every gift will be treasured and valued, no matter what. Obviously, there’s more at play here than just a love of making their grandchildren happy.

    The excess is frustrating – our younger child has three coats waiting for next fall, and one more the next size up. Our firstborn is six, and it hasn’t slowed down.

    And yet, I’ve found that Unclutterer’s answer is the right one. I twitch a little when I see the big ol’ suitcases at baggage claim. But we just do our best to pick out what we can use and pass on the rest quietly. It’s still a crazy-making waste – of money, of time, of stuff – but it is better than damaging our relationship. And yes, some of the things I would never have picked do prove to be our kids’ favorites.

  15. posted by Allison on

    I do think that there’s a balance to be struck. If you have a good relationship with your family members then I think it’s perfectly reasonable to be honest about the space you have and what you (or your children) need/want. I think most people would rather know that they’re giving a gift that’s truly appreciated. That said, regardless of what you receive, I think you should always thank the giver, even if you’re not that enthused about they ended up choosing.

  16. posted by SarahM on

    Reading all the comments has been interesting… but I guess I’d have to say I’m on the fence on this subject. Whereas I generally agree that the wisest and kindest course of action is to accept gifts graciously and then quietly do with them what you will (keep it, donate it, etc.), sometimes generosity might not be motivated entirely out of unselfishness, but instead is used as a way to manipulate others and/or bully them emotionally. Still, putting a firm morotorium on gifts that fall even in the latter camp might prove tricky and would probably just make the situation worse, so I would probably just continue quietly sending things to charity.

    Each Christmas, my husband and I get at least one gift from extended family that we either do not like or do not use, but it is kind of them to think of us and we always thank them appropriately. However, after the thank-you cards are mailed, the gift ends up at Goodwill. And we feel absolutely no guilt over it. I once read a great piece of advice in a “clear your clutter” book: when we give a gift to someone we should also give them the freedom to do whatever they wish with it (even if it means they give it away or donate it) – and conversely, we should allow ourselves the same freedom. And it goes both ways – if anyone decides to give away or donate a gift I gave to them, I bear them no ill will. It’s the thought that counts, not where the object ultimately ends up.

    And in all the years my husband and I have been giving away gifts we don’t want, no one has ever asked about them. If someone ever did ask about what happened to their gift, I would be honest and tell them we appreciated the thought but did not have the space – and if they got insulted or tried to lay down a guilt trip, that is their own issue to deal with. Being polite and gracious does not mean being a doormat and allowing other people’s wishes to dictate what you and your immediate family choose to have in your own personal space – just as neither my husband nor I would be so presumptuous as to dictate what people do with our gifts in return.

  17. posted by Sarah on

    Another vote for Laden with Crap.

    Gift-giving is a much bigger deal for my husband’s family than it ever was for mine, so packing the car to return from Christmas with them can get ridiculous. To their credit, many of them are very thorough about soliciting for and shopping from wish lists, so that although you might get a lot more of something than you intended (ask for a sweater, get three), you rarely get something way off the mark.

    You’ll note I said “many of them,” not “all of them.”

    Now, my own father would occasionally give me gifts–especially when I was in high school and college, and entirely inscrutable–that I had no use for, BUT it was clear he had put thought into them: I was able to genuinely say thanks, I see where you’re coming from and that was very thoughtful, but this is what I need more right now. And we’d return the first gift and go shopping.

    But the off-list gifts we get from the in-laws are way off the map: ask for ladder, get hammock; ask for board game, get waffle iron. In fact, ask for “please no kitchen gadgets,” get waffle iron. We graciously accepted the hammock, and the waffle iron…and over the years, we got used to the idea that a goodly chunk of the carload was going to go directly to Goodwill, do not pass go.

    This past Christmas, there was one item we just couldn’t accept–and if they’re reading this, they’ve already identified me, so I might as well just say it–a huge, floor-standing globe covered in semi-precious stones. It was impossible to say “I see where you’re coming from and that was very thoughtful” with that one. We literally lay awake on Christmas night, wondering what to do about it: it absolutely wouldn’t fit in the car, there was nowhere to put it in the house, and…we didn’t like it. At all. And I don’t imagine it was cheap, either; it’d be one of those gifts they check up on: so…where’s the globe?

    After days of trying to figure out the best approach, my husband had a very short conversation with his father, who (we’re told) had a long and emotional conversation with his wife, and although breakfast the next morning was a little chilly, eventually I got the sense that my husband wasn’t going to be The Bad Son for too long. Not for this, anyway.

    I’m on plenty of antidepressants, but I can still see the act of giving an unwanted gift to be just as selfish and offensive as trying to return it. Every time I ask for a charitable donation in my name and get a nativity set instead, it tells me that my opinion doesn’t matter. It tells me I’m not worth putting any thought into shopping for. It tells me the giver doesn’t care about what I want or need.

    I’ve said any number of times that I would happily accept nothing as a gift. That’s what my husband got me for Valentine’s Day. Fine by me! I don’t have to dust it or find a use for it or anything. And it’s just my size.

  18. posted by writing all the time on

    The bottom line is that we can not control what other people do. We can give them information, we can ask, but we can not make them be any one other than themselves. And we all have to live with other people’s decisions, just as other people have to live with ours.

    I’ve had family members send me gifts that I couldn’t stand having in the house – they got thrown in the trash at the post office or dropped off at GoodWill on the way home. The gift giving issue was only one of many in my family, and to me, was really just a symptom of some profound differences in communication styles and belief systems.

    My rule of thumb about these types of issues is: Saying something once is giving information, saying it twice is reminding, saying it three times is nagging. Nagging is an awful thing to take part in, and I do my best to never, ever, ever nag.

    So, I get to make my decisions regarding someone else’s decisions. Keep something I don’t want, and have my resentment fueled every time I see it, or get rid of the item and move on, whatever that looks like.

  19. posted by Lynn on

    This is really great advice. I believe that relationships with those we love are the most important. If you feel you can talk to the giver about your preferences in a kind, nonblaming, gracious, appreciative way then that’s fine. But it is not worth damaging the relationship over. My thoughts are that there should be no pressure -in either direction- when it comes to gifts. You don’t dictate to people what they give you as a gift. And as you stated, after they give it to you, it is yours to do with as you wish. A lot less drama that way.

  20. posted by Kat on

    Not having grandparents growing up, I can’t see the ladies issue with her mom spoiling her daughter. It seems very nice.

    I think something to remember here is; for some people gifts = love. They can not separate the two. So while it annoys you(and Laden with crap), think if this is the only way they can show their love and then be happy they are.

  21. posted by Anne on

    I think this is an awkward issue. I lived overseas for a while, and every time I came home for Christmas my family would buy me bulky, heavy gifts which I couldn’t possibly fit in my suitcase for my return journey. What’s more, I remember telling my mother before I went away that I’d bought a battery operated Sonicare toothbrush after my old rechargeable one broke and that I loved it since it didn’t require any cables or a charger so it was perfect for travelling. So guess what she bought me the following Christmas on a brief visit to my home country: a brand-new Sonicare with a bulky charger (sigh). Nevertheless, I felt very guilty for feeling resentment at my family’s generous, loving gifts.

    I also know how it feels to know that a friend has got rid of your gift: lousy. I bought my best friend some very carefully chosen presents (only on appropriate occasions such as Christmas and birthdays) that I knew she’d love, that were practical, not bulky and often consumable. When I visited her home some time later, she suddenly realised that she’d have to own up to having given away a lot of my gifts (since otherwise they would have been present in her home) and then even proceeded to admit she’d distributed most of the consumables among her colleagues. I felt hurt and resentful, but then felt bad that I could think negatively of my friend. Was it bad of me to feel resentful in that situation?

  22. posted by flightless on

    Wonderful advice. I like Miss Manners’ advice too, that all gifts may be treated like fresh flowers. Thank the giver, but do not feel obligated to keep them forever!

  23. posted by Ann on

    Some of the answers here are so awful. Please be gracious, people.

  24. posted by flightless on

    @ Anne – I think it’s only human to feel a bit stung; maybe it means that you didn’t know your friend’s tastes as perfectly as you thought you did? But maybe your friend is just (like many of us who read the Unclutterer) faced with having way more STUFF than she can steward! And she knows that you, in person, are present in her life, so she doesn’t need to keep Things from you as she might if you weren’t vividly present in person.

  25. posted by Nicole on

    One thing that has not been addressed is the point of view/care of the child or children in question. What happens when your child opens gift after gift and sees it as mean or rude to give away a gift that grandma gave them? (So she ends up with 35 tchokes lined up on her dresser.) Or what if he truly wants to have three winter coats, but you have no place to store them? Or, what if he just doesn’t want to give away that toy gun that grandpa bought, even though toy guns are not allowed in the house? Gift giving can be much more complex than a yes or no. These are issues that have to be addressed within each family on a case by case basis, with the children at the heart of the question.

    Wendy has every right to ask, politely, to limit the number or kind of gifts that come into her home. Our children were fortunate enough to have four sets of grandparents and two sets of great-grandparents, and all but one set lived in town. We wrote a letter to all of the grandparents when our two kids were very little. (For some reason, the toys seems to be bigger when the kids are smaller!) We asked each grandparent to limit their gifts to one piece of clothing or book, and one toy if they liked. We encouraged gifts like zoo memberships, etc. This still meant that each child received 8 items just from grandparents and great-grandparents. In 1,000 square foot house, that was plenty.

    Some of the relatives found this offensive, some understood. Oh well, their drama, not mine. I encouraged them all to open accounts for educational savings if they really felt the need to spend. Not a one has taken up that challenge.

    Until we begin to re-evaluate our notions of propriety and generosity, we won’t be able to bring ourselves down from the mountain of consumerism any time soon. (That’s my little soapbox comment for the day!)

  26. posted by henave on

    Our elementary school holds a bingo night in January. They send home a note to collect items for prizes urging you to send in the unwanted items received during the holidays. I always have a lot to give them!

  27. posted by L. on

    I am on the fence with this too. My MIL seems to be something of a compulsive shopper and cluttered liver, and she LOVES the yard sales, so every visit brings a mound of the latest yard sale finds. The used clothes weren’t an issue by themselves–I buy most of the kids’ clothing at consignment stores–but usually very little of it can be worn because it’s the wrong size for the wrong season. (If my daughter turns 18 months in the middle of our loooong winter, she’ll never get to wear those shorts in the 18M size.) Then a lot of stuff was stained, pilled, or just plain uncomfortable or ugly (and I am really not picky, I swear). Fortunately the influx of clothing has decreased since my husband got concerned about bedbugs and put a stern kibosh on most used stuff, but there are still other books and toys that seem like they were bought more because they were there than because they were actually appropriate; or that, if the GPs had thought to ask, they would know we already had at least one of the item… etc. etc. Overall, my husband asked them to stop bringing so many things, saying “you are all the gift we need”–it worked for one visit.

    I am on the fence, though, because I do appreciate that they’re kind, loving, and involved grandparents, and that there is no ill intent. I just wish that we didn’t have to start off so many visits with a mound of stuff that sets my teeth on edge.

    My husband says my MIL acts from a sort of passive-aggressive place in doing this. He is her son, so he knows best, but I do honestly wonder if she is not able to help herself.

    First-world problems, right?

  28. posted by SarahM on

    @ Anne – I went through a similar situation when I was in high school and gave my favorite teachers a carnation… and then later heard from a friend she passed it on to one of her students. At first, I was upset and hurt, but upon thinking about it, I realized it didn’t really matter – she had appreciated the thought and thanked me warmly, and that’s what counted. And who knows why she chose to give it to one of her students? Perhaps the student was having a tough time, and she thought it would brighten their day. Or perhaps she was allergic to carnations or didn’t really like them. Who knows? But it was her gift to do with as she pleased, and once I was able to let go of the emotional need for her keep it and cherish it always, I felt a lot better.

  29. posted by SarahM on

    Also, in general response to other comments – having experienced both the absence of significant relatives (my maternal grandfather died when I was a baby, so unfortunately I never got to know him) and toxic relatives (which I will not elaborate even in general terms), I would personally rather have no relatives than relatives who bring you down. It is fairly easy to limit contact with toxic acquaintances, but when it is your family, it’s a lot more complicated. Ambivalence about a relative’s over-generosity is just as valid a viewpoint as gratitude borne from yearning to have relatives. But those are just my two cents. :)

  30. Profile photo of

    posted by themusiclivez on

    @Nicole – You were able to put into words everything that I was thinking. I agree with you, 100%.

  31. posted by Laura on

    I have a 6-year-old and have struggled for years with this. We are fortunate enough to have extended family that are able to lavish us with gifts. However, usually the clothes would be 2 sizes too big, the wrong season, ill-fitting etc. My daughter is super slim, has trouble with jeans, etc. An older sibling had already laid down the law about toys so our families had been trained to buy practical gifts only. Every year they ask for wish lists only to buy clothes of their choice. I’ve tried to balance this through the years because I truly believe it is a blessing…but my extended family was following an older sibling’s rule. So this year I spoke up and said NO MORE CLOTHES. I wasn’t brutal, but simply explained (at my expense) that our closets were embarrassingly stuffed at this point and that I was working hard to mend the situation. Then I said that my daughter will only be little for so long and would get such a thrill over a special toy from her list and the giver would be such a HERO! (sorry..that’s just how it works!) By simply explaining it a way that made them feel like it wasn’t them, it was a huge sucess!!! The extended family loves buying things for my daughter that she truly wants.

  32. posted by jbeany on

    irishbell, in my experience, both personal and observed, a gift is not always just a gift. It can be an attempt to control (I bought you expensive jewelry, roses and dinner. Now I expect you to….), or an attempt to pressure you into changing your behavior (Gee, MIL, thanks for the diet cookbook and the floor mop.), or a competition (I got the kids a better gift than you did. I’m the better parent now!) or a heaping serving of guilt (It was a family heirloom. You have to keep it FOREVER – doesn’t matter if you like it, want it, need it, ore even have space for it.) I have learned to do exactly what Erin is suggesting – smile and say thank you, regardless of the giver’s real intentions. Then I do with the gift as I please, but it was a hard fought battle to learn that lesson.
    On the bright side, it’s made me a better gift giver. I try hard to find the right gift, but never expect anyone to keep, use or love anything I’ve given them.

  33. posted by jbeany on

    Huh, Not my day for computer cooperation.

    I didn’t mean to make it look like I was singling you out, irishbelle. When I opened my webpage, yours was the last comment listed. When I posted my answer, 20 plus other answers showed up!

  34. posted by jbeany on

    And now that I’ve read them….

    @Anne with the friend who immediately regifted your gifts to her- is it possible she regifted your consumable gifts because it was the only way she could afford gifts for all the people on her list? (I’ve been on that budget. I always asked for gift cards for my mid-November birthday from the worst over-spender in my life. Then I bought holiday gifts with them because otherwise, no one would have gotten anything from me.)

  35. posted by Anne on

    @L You are so right: wouldn’t so many people living outside the first world love to have our problems.

    And thanks for the feedback regarding my friend. I get the impression that after owning up to ditching some of my gifts, she then felt she was on a roll so she told me about regifting all the consumables. I think she realised I was a bit upset but I decided to let it pass. I realised that she doesn’t really attach much importance to any physical things (a little TOO uncluttered for me), and that her delight at my choice of gift for her was just an initial faddy burst of delight. So I didn’t take it personally and decided not to waste too much time and money on gifts for her in the future, not in a petty attempt to punish her, but just because the effort I spent on thinking of presents for her that she wouldn’t appreciate was cluttering up my life.

  36. posted by Alyssa on

    I do agree that you shouldn’t come out and tell the person that the gifts are unwanted. But I do believe that you should be honest if they ever ask “Do you like it? Have you used it?” or some other similar question. And of course, that can lead to some of the same problems.

    Time, energy and money are all spent on gifts – trying to think of what that person might like, purchasing or making it and then finally giving. Often, it feels that not enough time is spent on trying to think of what that person may like. That category doesn’t just include what they may enjoy, but also space considerations for where they live, whether it’s the correct size (for clothing and similar) and how much usage it will actually receive.

    I’ve found that the best gifts are those that relieve some of the burden of the giver. Especially if it’s a more expensive gift, my parents will often say “I’m getting you THIS for a gift. We’ll go to the store together and you can pick out the specific item.” Not only do I get to spend some quality time with them (as we often make it an outing), but they are relieved the stress of trying to pick out that perfect gift. They get the benefit of knowing that I enjoy it and will use it. Does it take away some of the joy of gift giving? Yes, a bit. But we’ve found that the security of KNOWING that it’s a good gift more than makes up for it.

    I will also say that just because a person doesn’t like the gift itself DOESNT mean that they are ungrateful. I’m a hard to shop for person. I know this is mainly due to my practical tendencies and the fact that I do a lot of product research (especially when it comes to my baby) and know exactly what I want. So while I know that I will never use the gift or that it will be going back to the store post haste, I’m deeply appreciative of the effort and of the love it signifies.

    Gift giving is (or should be) all about expressing your love for a person – as long as that is recognized by both the giver and the receiver, then it doesn’t matter as much if the receiver is less than enamored with the gift itself.

  37. posted by Jane on

    Thank you Jen! I just fostered an elephant in my sister’s name for her birthday. I know that she will love it.

  38. posted by Wendy on

    Not the Wendy from the question, but I feel like I could be. We have tried and failed to get ‘less stuff’, and dealt with it through Goodwill and returns. My problem, now, is when they call and ask about the gifts- they don’t want to take our kids’ personalities (or our lifestyle) into consideration when buying gifts, but then they get really mad when the gifts are left unused and then given away.

  39. posted by Pat on

    While I agree with Erin that those gifted should appreciate the act of giving, I have another suggestion. I think that Wendy should talk to her mother and tell her how much she appreciates her generosity. BUT, especially since it seems that grandmother and granddaughter don’t live in the same country, she can tell her mother that it would probably mean more to the granddaughter to do things with her grandmother. The gift money might be better spent on experiences that the child will remember forever. A trip to the circus or a show or going out to tea. Right now, of course, she is too young. In a year or two, however, there will be many activities that will be appropriate. And the more specific Wendy can be about the types of things her daughter would enjoy doing, the more likely that her mother will take the suggestion.

  40. posted by DairyStateMom on

    What good advice from Erin! And what difficult experiences some folks have had, and how sad that is, for all concerned.

    Erin’s advice recognizes that even though we think we understand others’ motives, we often just can’t, and in the end, we can’t control what others do — only what we do.

    My family has slowly come around to “less stuff, more experiences or consumables” but we still have a holdout. We just let her be. She gives gifts, she likes it when we fuss over them and thank her, and we love her anyway. We give her consumables and experiences, and it all works out fine.

    One other thing that maybe some commenters missed is that Wendy herself classifies her mother’s behavior as CULTURAL, not PERSONAL, and that’s important. It’s not about controlling, or manipulating, or any of that other stuff — it’s just “this is what grandparents do.”

  41. posted by Jen on

    Jane- you are welcome! It’s a gift that makes the world a better place. What could be better than that?

    Happy birthday to your sister!

  42. posted by Jo@simplybeingmum on

    I took the bull by the horns and asked family to stop buying. Very politely of course. I explained that we didn’t desire the gifts (and that actually it was detrimental), and that I would rather they spend their cash on things for themselves. I have even offered gifts back immediately after unwrapping and suggested they regift. Sometimes complete honesty is the best policy!

  43. posted by Jo@simplybeingmum on

    Gosh – just re-read my comment – I sound awful! All done very politely I must emphasise!

  44. posted by Jenni on

    This is not your situation, but I must say that if someone finds themselves dealing with a hoarder who won’t listen to family wishes and foists tons of crap on you, it’s a totally different ballgame.

    In that case, having a gentle and polite but direct conversation (sometimes many conversations!) about needs, wants, limits, experiences-vs-things, etc. can be vital to maintaining your sanity.

    Everyone’s circumstances are different and sometimes a more difficult path is called for.

  45. posted by Myra on

    Erin
    I thought your suggestions were wonderful. Having the only grandchild in the family with a birthday close to Christmas we were always bombarded by gifts in December. I always insisted my child be openly thankful for all the gifts she received. We also gave suggestions for gifts- which were often completely ignored (we would just happily thank them and inwardly groan). Some things were enjoyed immediately, some were given away, and some were saved till summer. It did take some time and effort to process all the gifts, but in the end everyone was happy. Now that she’s a teen, gift cards are the rage & I couldn’t be happier.

  46. posted by Nica on

    Don’t have any kids, & otherwise few family members, but I do have several friends & acquaintances who sometimes shower me with items they do not want themselves, or with gifts that they know I won’t/can’t use.

    Clothes are the worst offenders, some used & some still w/ tags. Hey, I’ll buy stuff myself from a thrift shop & enjoy the good deal, & I’m certainly am not offended by being offered an admittedly used piece. But if you leave me with stuff that I can’t or won’t wear, I do resent having to find new homes for it. We have no donation drop-off inside of 1-hr away, & I have a small house that I’m trying to declutter of my own goods.

    Another offender for me includes knick-knacks / dust collectors. Everyone’s taste is unique. One of my friends knows that I don’t like artificial flowers, for instance, yet she has created arrangements for me. Honestly, I consider that gift to be more about pleasing herself than me. But then I’m stuck w/ it, or need to donate it somewhere.

    I’m not ungrateful, & do appreciate good intentions of most folks. But as I gain more control of the clutter I’ve inherited & myself collected, I don’t want to be guilted out by misdirected kindness of those who know better. Okay, got that one off my chest!

  47. posted by Kara on

    I have REALLY struggled with this. Gift giving occasions with my in-laws were always painful. As we had kids, it definitly got worse.

    But the relationship is really more important. Our relationship is fragile anyway, and I realized I didn’t want to make it worse anymore. Sure, there are “toxic” people and that’s a different scenario but most people are simple dense about gift giving, sadly misguided or dealing with their own baggage in gift giving.

    My attitude change when I read this article.
    http://simplemom.net/how-to-av.....occasions/
    It’s along the same vein as Erins.

  48. posted by E~ on

    I do wish my mum was still here to give me a gift – but mostly i would like a gift of her TIME – a gift of DOING something with her – her HELP in my life somehow

    experiences are a GIFT

  49. posted by GingerR on

    The writer’s daughter is only one year old. It’s a little early for her to be writing thank-yous.

    As grandchildren get older and Grandma/Grandpa start getting feedback from the child, rather than the parents, their gifting will change. Sometimes getting them onto a theme will help — it’s easy for a kid who loves Legos to get more, and once you’ve got a way of storing and managing them it’s not such a burden.

    Soon enough your child will be a surly teen, Grandma/Grandpa will be older and eventually won’t be able to manage buying gifts for them.

    Don’t let dismay over a few things ruin your family holidays now while the kids are small and Grandparents are still young. Once they’re gone pack the unwanted stuff up, and do with it what you will.

  50. posted by Mletta on

    Very interesting to read the comments here. Especially the ones where it’s clear that there are control issues involved here (“laden with crap” seems perhaps as disturbed by someone ignoring his preferences and dictates as he does about the actual stuff).

    I can see all the various perspectives and can appreciate what is behind them all, whether the struggle to be gracious and accommodating or the frustration from those whose relatives either don’t hear them or ignore their wishes and concern.

    Part of me wishes I had had these kind of gift-giving folks when I grew up (I did not.) Part of me understands about over-giving. (I’ve got one nephew. I honor his parents directives but I could easily go crazy with gift giving for him.)

    Mostly, I remember that real gifts are freely given, with nothing expected (other than a “thank you” and acknowledgement). If only it were that simple with relatives.

    I think all those frustrated with too much stuff or stuff they don’t like need to just accept that some folks won’t listen and let it go.

    The place where it gets very very tricky is when the kids are old enough to manipulate the gift-givers, especially when it is for something parents have either forbidden or do not want them to have.

    I can think of a situation where my niece and nephews started lusting after some sort of branded merchandise for a sports team. My brother, frugal but also wise about stuff, told them: No way. When you’re an adult you can spend all the money you want on whatever. But you are 12 and 14 and no way are you gonna have that stuff (he did not believe in succumbing to pressure for “what every one else has.”

    As the only grandkids with very generous grandparents, they started a campaign. My brother, who was wise to them, specifically told the grandparents: No X.

    One set adhered to it. The other did not. My brother was furious and did take the gifts away from the kids.

    It really created problems in the issue with HIS parents, who ignored his requests and pooh-poohed his reasoning.

    The issues here are often not the type and amount of gifts per se, but that there is some other stuff going on between the folks who give (especially grandparents but even aunts and uncles). All gift-giving is NOT created equally. Some folks DO have an agenda, conscious or unconscious. (Taking kids to fast-food restaurants when parents have expressly forbidden? What is that telling you about those gift-givers?)

    It’s hard not to get carried away at times, but it’s always important to put gifts in context.

    In some cases, the only solution may be NO gift giving. (One of our friends asked that gifts stop when it became very clear that one set of very well-off grandparents were constantly grandstanding while the much less well-off other set of grandparents gave one modest give for various occasions. To say that the kids developed a different relationship based on those gifts is to put it mildly. Kids do care about stuff, no matter how young. And let’s be clear, some relatives are indeed trying to “buy” your kids’s affection, which is, I think what many are really reacting to.)

    For all of us, the fact that so many seem to have such a problem is just amazing given the economic climate.

    I’d rather see some of that abundance directed towards those who need it more (which it is when those gifts are given to charities, others who can use, etc.)

    and I agree, spend the money on spending time together or sharing special experiences.

    Such affluence to have such a problem. If I shared this post with friends around the globe, they’d be horrified.

  51. posted by Natalie in West Oz on

    i think the key in all these posts is that talking to the offender works **IF** you have a GOOD relationship. If you dont, welcome to my world! My husband knows not to buy me flowers (hayfever) and that cleaning something (that was probably his mess in the first place) means more to me in my busy busy world than something else I have to try to find a home for. But his mother wont listen, and nor will my sister. My mother kind of listened and stopped buying me birthday and Christmas presents, but then started buying me ” I saw it and knew you’d like it” gifts of things I wish she’d never seen.

    I’ve tried explaining it from my point of view (my house is full, its hard for me to give things away so please understand that and make it easier by not giving, I’m trying not to be so materialistic, please give me a photo of you so I can indulge in my fave hobby which is scrapbooking). But in my family and extended family, its about THEM not me. My sister admits she just cant NOT buy a present because SHE loves buying, my MIL sees it as a competition. Even when GReat Gran was too old to even think of presents, MIL pushed her and pushed her to come up with presents for every grandchild and great grandchild. We’d have preferred a phone call or a letter.

    SO, all my gifts come with heaps of emotional clutter and none of it is about what the recipient might actually want or need. My MIL, despite being told to please give me nothing but a photo, STILL asks me if I liked the present. I let my husband answer because I refuse to keep lying! (no, telling the truth wont work – read first comment re good relationships).

    I do regift, I do throw out or recycle and my new best friend is Freecycle! There’s always someone out there that wants what I dont.

  52. posted by Tabatha on

    I don’t seem to have this problem anymore. I’ve become pretty minimalist and made such a big deal out of it about how happy I am with less stuff people seem to be catching on and just not going out of there way to buy me something unless they know I need or want that specific item. like for my last birthday, i got a few small gifts but mostly i just wanted to go out with friends and that’s what I did, people know me well enough to know I don’t want more stuff.

  53. posted by Ed Decatur on

    Fascinating topic! I wasn’t until I read these comments that I recognized the connection between overgifting and shopping addiction. It seems so obvious now.

    It seems that one thing to consider is whether you want a closer relationship to the giver or not. If so, the communication about excess may very well bring you closer. One key that someone mentioned is making it clear that the overstuffed house is your own problem, not that the giver is doing something wrong.

    It might help to answer, “How are you?” or, “What are you up to?” with details about closet cleaning, lack of space, trips to charity, etc. You could make comments along the lines of, “So many people have taken an interest in Junior, and they have been so generous, it breaks my heart to have to give away items he has hardly used.”

    These kind of conversations between special occasions could then be segued into more specifics as the holidays approach. “We are constantly struggling with lack of storage, so it would help us out a lot to receive less this year.”

    On the other hand, if your relationship is already as close as you want, or you don’t have confidence that you can express your desires without offence, then the advice to say, “Thank you,” and quietly regift is probably best.

  54. posted by Thankful on

    First world problems, eh?

  55. posted by C on

    I ended up focusing more on the first sentence – “What do you do when you come from a culture where gifting is part of etiquette?” – than anything else, so I’m going to focus on that instead of the specific tricky issue of “gifts from grandparents.”

    In a lot of Asian countries, gift giving is a KEY social skill. Not giving a gift when you visit someone reflects really badly on you, and image is terribly important. I was raised in the US with a Japanese mother and I give gifts anytime I visit someone’s house, attend a party, someone isn’t feeling well, etc. In Japan, you’re expected to bring back omiyage from every trip you take. Hungry for Words: Mostly Japanese has a really good article about that here: http://maki.typepad.com/justhu.....iyage.html

    The first rule she lists is “The best omiyage is something that can be consumed” and this is the main rule I follow. (I don’t really follow the others, unless I’m gifting a Japanese person.) For really close friends, I’ll make cookies or cupcakes that I know they really like, even if the recipe is a lot of work. For business dinner parties, a bottle of wine for the hosts and a bottle of wine to be consumed at the party. For those who don’t drink, if I know their food habits, I’ll substitute a food gift basket (pastas and sauces in a colander for the pasta lover, gourmet spices for the cook, tea for the tea lover, coffee, etc.) Harry & David and Williams-Sonoma are great places to pick up gourmet foods. (If you’re looking to not spend so much, H&D items regularly go on clearance in store and you can pick up still-good gourmet foods at places like Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshalls – although, keep in mind you’ll want to look them over to pick items with non-damaged packaging.) I very rarely stray from giving consumable gifts and I’ll have people telling me for weeks afterward how delicious the X was.

    On the flipside… I suppose the trick to the grandparent gifting might be to say, “It’s nice of you to give little Suzy the socks – she won’t need any more for a long time. By the way, she really loved the apple juice/strawberry drops/whatever-food you brought.” Maybe this will encourage less Stuff-gifting and more Food-gifting

  56. posted by ninakk on

    Thankful mentions the concept of ‘first-world problems’ and it is very true, but the feelings above are as true so it won’t do to just raise an eyebrow and feel superior because one has got one’s priorities straight or something similar. Frustrations can cause many problems, as can be seen from many comments and I’d like to remind everyone to please be as considerate while gifting as you are gracious while receiving. Both are true art forms.

    I would never ever ask about something I gave on a previous occasion, because it might mean that the person I gave something to could lose his/her face. There’s no reason to cause such an embarrassing moment. Nowadays I only gift an object that a person has mentioned in a sentence where ‘would like to have’ also appeared or the item is a consumable of some kind or it is an experience. My closest friends don’t have that many kids yet, but once they grow I think I’ll consult the parents before purchasing anything. I’ve also begun to ‘let go’ of anything I give, meaning as soon as I’ve gifted it the new owner is free to do with it whatever they want.

  57. posted by Christina on

    I see both sides of the situation. It does seem like you shouldn’t look a gift horse in the mouth, and be grateful that there are people in your life who want to shower you with gifts. You should accept the gifts, but you also shouldn’t feel obligated to keep them (or even transport them) if you don’t want them and they place a burden on you to store, display, care for, or otherwise be the steward of such a possession. As a gift giver, you should give freely and not make someone feel obligated to keep something just because you were the one who gave it to them. You shouldn’t ask someone after you have given them a gift what they did with it–but if you do, the recipient should be tactfully honest with you that they gave it away or returned it b/c the gift didn’t fit their life. As a gift giver, I’d much rather give someone a gift I know they’ll use and enjoy, then to assume I know what they want and then get upset when they don’t appreciate the gift like I thought they “should.” And as a gift recipient, I feel it is best to be honest with people if they inquire after the gifts they’ve given you, so that the gift giver can change their gift-giving strategy if they don’t like the way the recipient has dealt with the gift (even if that strategy is to simply stop giving me gifts). This is slightly different when children are involved, but I like Erin’s solution of going through the gifts with your child and letting them decide, too.
    There is a way to be a gracious gift recipient, but there is a way to be a gracious gift giver as well–and that means caring more that the recipient will actually derive enjoyment from the gift than you might have enjoyed giving it to them.

  58. posted by Mauro on

    For all you unclutteres, let’s see who wins:

    Messy v/s Tidy
    http://www.lifescoreboard.com/scoreboards/2084

  59. posted by Suzanne on

    Excellent Post!
    I wanted to let you know that I liked it so much I linked you on my blog
    http://delightfullyorganized.b.....posts.html

  60. posted by Jenni on

    I have a follow up question to this: What about presents for older kids?

    My mother-in-law has yet to grow out of this phase and it’s getting a bit frustrating. The toys she buys do not fit with our lifestyle and the values we would like to instill. We originally decided to allow (most of) these items while de-emphasizing them and encouraging other toys. Over time, storage has become an issue. We instituted a new policy that all toys have to fit in the existing storage system. If there are too many toys, some stuff must go to goodwill until they all fit. Our son recently turned 8 and got almost enough toys to completely refill his room. I expect him to be able to perform a reasonable amount of de-cluttering and purging, but I just feel that she’s making it extremely difficult on him. We plan to talk to her and ask her to limit her presents to 3 items and absolutely no candy, but I would love to hear any suggestions.

  61. posted by Laden with Crap on

    I’m glad to see I’m not the only one who struggles here. I do generally have a good relationship with my family except for the gifts. It is precisely because I love my sister (who is unemployed) that I was upset when she bought so many gifts for me as I know she’s been switching off the heat at home to save money.

    But I agree with what has been said in that we can’t control other people’s behaviour. It is her choice not mine; I don’t need to feel guilty about it.

    Thanks everyone for the comments; I think the next family occasion will be easier.

  62. posted by Milk Donor Mama on

    One year, my inlaws gave me several gifts that I just had no use for- knickknacks, mostly. After I asked for a gift receipt for exchange (one item was missing a part), which didn’t go down well… they stopped buying “stuff” and switched over to buying us a zoo membership and science museum membership (this also coincided with the birth of our daughter). This is so much better. Could you suggest experience gifts over “stuff” gifts?

  63. Profile photo of

    posted by Charity on

    Having a gift-showering MIL (who constantly checks up on what has been done with her gifts and throws tanrums if the kids are not dressed head to toe in items she gave them) is really not easy. If people here think I’m ungrateful, so be it, but I really wish she would abide by our direct requests not to give any more. It is very sad that my 6 year old says “I have a Grandma who plays with me and another Grandma who gives me stuff”.

  64. posted by Elaine on

    Oh, come on you people! The first poster had to take PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION HUNDREDS OF MILES to get home. How was she supposed to get all the huge things home?

    Years ago, I learned a valuable lesson. Give a person what THEY want, not what YOU want. You didn’t have much as a child, so you over-give to your grandchildren? If you need to give give give, how about savings bonds? Gift cards? Cash? A charitable donation in the person’s name (I would like that!)?

    Giving what you want makes it all about you. Giving what they want makes it about them. Gifts can be small tokens instead of burdens.

  65. posted by Delores on

    Some photos of the daughter in clothes that were a hit or with a favorite new toy would let the mother know her actions are appreciated and might reinforce what the girl really likes for future gifting. “All of the clothes were delightful, but Mary looks so good in red I just had to send you a photo of her in this wonderful outfit”. “Mary likes all her toys but she lives, sleeps, and eats with this one.”

  66. posted by Melissa A. on

    Personally I think if someone can’t be more thoughtful when giving gifts, then they shouldn’t give them. Just giving for the sake of giving is not thoughtful. Put some thought into the gifts you give and listen to your loved ones and there shouldn’t be a problem.

  67. posted by TerriAnn on

    This is an emotional subject for people, and always interesting to read.

    We do an Amazon.com wishlist for our children and send the link to family, hoping it will be used. Sometimes it is and sometimes it is not. If someone doesn’t use the list, then it is clear that the gift giving is all about them and not what the child needs or wants. Why wouldn’t they want to know what would be needed and used.

    Telling family to not give gifts, decrease gifts or follow a wish list shouldn’t be a problem for them unless they have a selfish need to fulfill by not respecting what the parents or child requests.

    As someone else stated, grandstanding or gift giving with a passive aggressive agenda needs to be stopped immediately!

    My husband’s family was a bit over the top with gift giving. There was a lot of pressure to buy the “perfect” expensive gift for all holidays, Christmas, birthday, Mother and Father’s Days, even Easter. It was overwhelming to me as my family was never like that. This was fueled my MIL, who becomes passive-aggressive if the correct gift is not received. While we were getting out of debt, we told my husbands siblings that we would not be buying them gifts for Christmas. We felt we needed to reset the bar. I would like to stop giving his siblings gifts altogether, they are in their 30s and 40s, why do they need a gift from us. But now we only give gift cards and I feel we are taking baby steps to no gifts. We have already discussed next Christmas and we think we will give Dinner at Our House coupons instead of buying a gift card to a restaurant. The birthday and Easter gifts have stopped between siblings.

    Now we are working on Easter. We have two girls and get and Easter basket from 4 people for each girl. So excessive and wasteful. It all goes to the Salvation Army. I am hoping this year the message will get through. We are the only ones with children in his family, so we are the ones setting the gift giving mood for the future.

  68. posted by Jennifer on

    I disagree with the idea that you should lie to your family and let them think that you appreciate the plastic toys (when you asked for only wooden toys), Chinese made items (when you gave them a list – at their request – of locally made goods), dozens of battery operated geegaws (when you’ve told them that you’re trying to reduce your use of powered items), and dozens more toys that make noise (when you’ve asked multiple times – and even told them that they get “broken” – for toys that are for quiet time) even the books they give have made noise, and when you tell them the size clothes your child is wearing or the style of clothes he will or will not wear they go out and buy a size too small (never too big, sadly) and in a style he refuses to even try on.

    I agree that many people don’t have grandparents who like to shower them or their kids with gifts. But when gifts end up generating bad feelings EVERY time you receive a package from them, this is just as bad for family relations as never getting anything does.

    Why should the daughter be grateful that her mother is teaching her daughter to value “stuff?” Why should the daughter be grateful that her mother is teaching her daughter that respecting people’s wishes is not important?

    Personally, I love getting and giving gifts. But I have also learned that not everyone feels the way I do. I hope to teach my son that giving a gift should be about who you’re giving it to, not just the thing that you’re giving. Giving is supposed to be an act of unselfishness, not glorying in your ability to “shower” someone with presents they neither want nor need. When you do that your gift becomes about you, not the act of giving.

    My son’s birthday is in 4 weeks, and I’ve been telling everyone that gift certificates to movies or memberships to museums zoos and science centers will be much more appreciated than more loud, battery-operated Chinese plastic toys. But I know that that will be ignored. I’m trying to collect my calm right now and the boxes to take to Goodwill the day after they leave. The boxes are easy, the calm not so much.

  69. posted by JJ on

    Very good advice, and sensible as well. Sometimes the greatest joy for some is in giving.

  70. posted by Chris Smith on

    This is a great post. It’s tough dealing with unwanted gifts from family members, or good friends. I’m on a tight budget, so when a gift comes along that I don’t like, I usually exchange it, regift it or sell it – quietly, of course. My latest method of selling children’s clothes, toys, etc, is to open a “store” at StorkBrokers. This way, you can list it with no fees and, if someone else likes it, they will buy it and you can ship it off. Here is the link:http://www.storkbrokers.com/sell-baby-stuff/

Comments are closed.