No Gifts Please

The other day I was talking to a parent and she mentioned that in their household they try not to buy things for their child unless it is a special occasion.  What a concept!  Our move into The Ashland House is still several (?) months away and I am realizing that we have so many items we don’t need.  Why do we have all this stuff?!

The timing of this conversation was no coincidence.  There is a very popular organizational book out right now about getting rid of the things that don’t bring joy to your life.

Secretly, I have been resistant to reading this book because it seems trendy to me.  Lots of people are talking about it.  I don’t want to jump on the bandwagon.  Or maybe my resistance is to mask the fact that I don’t want to tackle a major de-clutter?  Or maybe I am over-thinking things?  Oh please.  Of course I am over-thinking things! Have you ever had a conversation with me?  In fact, if I think about it, I am over thinking things right NOW.

This is the part where I rant about how we are brainwashed by marketers from the time we are babies in order to perpetuate our consumer society – all under the auspices of a “healthy” economy.  At the expense of humanity and the environment, of course.  No big deal. *sarcasm font on last sentence*

What it comes down to for me is this:  How can I encourage people to raise their children joyfully if I am not doing the same things for my family?

Here are the steps I’m starting to take now:

  1. I’m beginning the process of downsizing.  I am burdened with organizing and taking care of things that I don’t even use.  If I don’t get rid of them I will have to pack them up, move them and then organize them in our new home.  Ugh.  No thanks.
  2. I am not buying anything new that we don’t need.  Spending Freeze!
  3. No more gifts for me.  Please.  I don’t need anything.  Really.  If you want to do something nice for me you can write me a note from the heart.  Or you can spend time with me (FYI:  My love language is Quality Time).  Unless I don’t like you.  That was a joke. If you are reading this I like you.  If you feel compelled to give something because you have been conditioned to purchase something then make a donation to a cause close to your heart and think of me when you do it.

Finally, our son is having his birthday celebration this weekend.  We are organizing an Epic Nerf Gun Battle at a local park.  I might live to regret it.  Time will tell.  We want to hang out with his friends and their parents. On the invite we put “No Gifts Please.”

This request is difficult because when I go to a “No Gifts” party I feel deeply compelled to bring a gift.  I was raised that bringing a gift was the polite thing to do.  What do I tell my kind-hearted and generous friends to do when they ask what our son would like for a gift?  “If you feel compelled to bring something, please bring a non-perishable item for our local food bank.”

I didn’t consult The Kiddo before organizing the “No Gifts Please” portion of the party. Guess what?  He’s cool with it.  Even if he wasn’t I was prepared to deal with the fallout.  It’s important to me that he values people and not things.

If you made it to the end of this post congratulations!  Thank you ever so much for reading and have a Joyful Day!

xo Whitney

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  • 0 thoughts on “No Gifts Please

    1. Mauri

      You mirror my thoughts exactly – I have too much stuff and clutter. The stuff just makes me uptight! I call it trying to live “clean” 😁

    2. Marlton Trainer

      I’m with you here. I’m constantly fighting the urge to save things. But I feel so unburdened when I finally toss the extraneous stuff. My older daughter loves to help me throw clutter out. She didn’t inherit the “saving” gene and it helps to get another opinion on the value/non-value of it all.

      1. Whitney Parchman Post author

        I think you hit the nail on the head when you say you feel so unburdened after you toss the extraneous stuff. Also, it helps to have someone with you to keep you honest and on track about what to repurpose, toss, donate, etc. Thanks for your comment!

    3. Jellyfish Mama

      Decluttering is like therapy for the soul: you feel so much happier and saner with less ‘stuff’ around to worry about. If you don’t need it, get rid of it! I try to de litter every year or two and it really REALLY gives me a boost of happiness and feeling of general well being 🙂 Good luck with your decluttering!
      And kudos to you for raising such an amazing child who knows the value of ‘things’ vs people and is cool with a no gifts birthday!

      1. Whitney Parchman Post author

        I completely agree about the decluttering. I did a major declutter a few years back and felt absolute bliss afterward. I didn’t even realize that I was carrying around “psychic baggage”.

        And thanks for the kudos. I really can’t take too much credit for the kiddo. He is a great kid in spite of my parenting mistakes along the way. 😉 xo

    4. Juli Hoffman

      I read this “life-changing” magical, organizational book. I made my request to borrow it from my local library months ago, and they put me on a list! I was a little disappointed when my turn came up. It’s not a very big book. It only took me a couple of evenings to read it. So here’s her system: Pull EVERYTHING from the category you’re organizing all together in one place. (You need to see how much you have of any particular item.) Start with clothing jewelry, makeup, lotions, shampoos…stuff that belongs to you. Then work on Books, Papers, Misc Items that are disposable, and finally Personal items like knick-knacks, photos, etc. You’re supposed to only worry about one category at a time, personal/sentimental items are only organized once you’ve gone through everything else. If you love it. Keep it. If the item doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it. If you feel guilty, thank the item for bringing you joy when you received it and wish it well as you get rid of it, knowing it served its purpose. That’s pretty much it. It’s a good idea, but I haven’t gone through her plan yet. I did get rid of some clothes the other day.

        1. Whitney Parchman Post author

          Hmm. Interesting. I guess the thing that I am struggling with is if I take a “people not things approach” I don’t want to find joy from my things. Maybe she is referring to the joyful memory an object evokes?

          1. Juli Hoffman

            I don’t think it has to be an either/or decision when it comes to things bringing you joy. I have a painting in my bedroom, a painting of bunnies dressed in medieval gowns, with fairy wings, dancing. And yes, there is a unicorn is this picture. And a flying pig. I’ll have to post a pic of it if I haven’t already. Seriously, you can’t make this stuff up! LOL Anyway, it makes me smile every time I see it. It’s ridiculous, and elaborate, and it brings me joy because it’s so silly. I suppose not every item in your home can bring as much joy as fairy bunnies, but it might be nice to come home to a house with less clutter, where the objects kept in it make you smile. 🙂 xo

            1. Whitney Parchman Post author

              Sounds like a Joyful home! I have a friend and she only has the things she loves (not as much as her family, of course) around. It is one of the loveliest homes I have ever been in. Clutter-free too! Your point is well taken. xo

      1. Whitney Parchman Post author

        Okay, that sounds like a lot of work! Did she give a time frame for how long all of that would take?
        P.S. Excellent synopsis. You saved me a bunch of time. Thanks! 😉

    5. Lisa

      Whitney….I am a “no gifts” person too and also teach our kids the same thing to value people not things.

      1. Whitney Parchman Post author

        I commend you. It’s not easy to be a “no gifts” person in today’s culture. It seems all the important lessons have a bit of struggle to them, don’t they? Thanks for commenting. 🙂 xo

    6. Debbie L

      Interesting post. We’re carrying on a family tradition of not buying gifts for our grandsons. Instead, we’re putting money into their 529 education fund. Our daughter has asked all family members to do the same if they want to do anything for them. The boys don’t like toys! The first birthday party showed what a waste of money!
      We do buy their shoes and other odds and ends as needed.

    7. Arpita

      Reblogged this on It's Arpita's Life and commented:
      ‘No Gifts Please’ by Whitney could not have come at a better time! The Holiday season is almost knocking on our doors & it is the perfect time to remind ourselves of what’s truly important in our lives.

    8. Jo Ann

      That was one amazing post! Just found your blog today and have sat here and read the entire thing up to this point. I am at work reading it. Yea, it’s the day before Thanksgiving and things are slow.
      By the way, love your blog.

      1. Whitney Parchman Post author

        Hi Jo Ann! First of all thank you. I love that you love this blog! I especially appreciate you risking your employment to read it. Second of all you have given me the gift of readership which inspires me to write more. A most sincere and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family!
        xo Whitney