Simplifying Christmas Part 3 - The minefield of gift-giving

In the past, I was right into gift giving.  And, to be honest, even more into early teenage diaries that are going to be shredded when I get home to Sydney next time are FULL of lists of stuff that I wanted.  My full-on materialistic avaricious mindset makes me cringe.

However, these days,  I am becoming more and more over it.  I might bust out point form to explain why - goddamn it if I don't LOVE a bullet point.  I am talking about material gifts in these instances;

1) It causes stress.  We have all rushed around at some point looking for a gift for someone, not knowing quite what to get and ending up with something...not quite right...or spending more than we really have just because we think that we HAVE to give a gift because it's Christmas or a birthday or whatever.  We don't.

2) It causes a feeling of being "beholden."  In an ideal world a gift is a gift and should have no...strings attached.  However, it turns out that often it's not like that.  Perhaps the giver thinks that they should receive something in return. Perhaps the giver thinks that we should focus on the thing rather than the thought and keep the gift forever.  Perhaps the giver thinks that in a way they still kind of "own" the gift and that they have a say in what happens to it.   Think of the time when we have been given gifts and we haven't got a gift for the person and the feeling of guilt that overwhelms us and we feel that when we are given something, we OWE something to that person.  We don't.
Of course, we shouldn't just be takers, but we also should give 100 percent freely.

3) It causes feelings of inadequacy.  Perhaps the gift that we have given is not as expensive as the gift we have received or the gifts that other people have given the same people.  We can feel inadequate or that somehow, we need to give MORE stuff.  We don't.

4) It causes clutter.  How many things in our houses do we hold on to because someone gave it to us and we feel that we shouldn't get rid of it because it was a gift?  We feel that instead of focussing on the thought that the person had for us or the feelings we have for that person, we should hang on to this thing, which in itself is....meaningless - an object.  We feel that if we give it away, then we are disregarding the person's thoughts.  We aren't.  And that maybe they will think we love them less or whatever.  We don't.

5) It causes too much emphasis to be placed on material items.  Money doesn't need to be spent on stuff.  Stuff is not important.  Stuff is certainly not important when we use it to try to buy love or as a substitute for our time or our caring.

For me, it just gets too involved and dangerous - too many ways to cause offence and to cause negative feelings.  Having a child has also taught me a lot about it.  Little Miss O couldn't give a rat's arse if she got any presents or not.  Recently, I have talked to some people I usually give gifts to at Christmas, and we have decided that instead of prezzies, we are going to go for spending quality time or drinking very nice wine or eating very good food....or something.  Just no gifts.  Please!


  1. Purleaseeeee... if you cared remotely about causing offense and hurting people's feelings you wouldn't post a picture of a wedding present a friend gave you that you were chucking out in your laughable 'decluttering'. Chuck out everything you own for all anyone cares but perhaps for the sake of the feelings of others you might refrain from posting pictures of presents people have put thought into buying for you, who cared enough to find something they thought you would love. I'm sure this comment will not get posted here for very long if at all but seriously you need a wake up call!!

    1. Hi Katy,
      Thanks for your input. No, I am not going to delete this comment - it doesn't phase me at all, actually. Hopefully, it will open a discussion about how people imbue stuff with meaning that it doesn't actually have. As I have already mentioned to the person in question, I apologise for the anguish that it has caused, but not having the thing that I was given in my house anymore has no impact on the appreciation I felt for the thought and the effort or for the person involved. Those remain with me as do the lovely card and the words in them that I have kept.
      Hope all is going well in your new home.

  2. Hm - that should be fazed not phased. Oops.


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