According to the National Retail Federation, the average shopper in America will spend $1,047.83 during the winter holiday season (mainly Christmas) on gifts and other seasonal items.
Keep in mind, this is not the only time of year we receive gifts. Most of us receive several presents for our birthdays as well. Not to mention, all the other gift-giving occasions throughout the year: Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s and Father’s Days, wedding anniversaries, baby showers, housewarming, graduation, recovery from sickness or surgery, thank-you’s, baptism, confirmation, other special occasions, and sometimes “just because.”
That’s a lot of stuff coming into our homes from well-meaning friends and family. Multiply those occasions by the number of people in your family and you’ve got a formula for a whole lot of stuff entering your home!
Now, I think gift giving can be a beautiful thing. And I would never want to hurt anybody’s feelings, if it could be helped. But if you’re determined to avoid over-accumulation of physical possessions in your home, then you’re going to have to manage both sides of the gift-giving traffic in your home.
Here are a few ideas:
1. Tell your friends you don’t need a gift.
If you let them know you’d rather get together in person, that’s better than getting yet another decorative candle or coffee mug you don’t need. Change the gift-giving expectation.
2. Request quality over quantity.
If requesting no gifts is going to be a tough sell with some people in your life, encourage them to purchase quality over quantity. This is especially helpful when influencing gifts given to your children. Two $25 gifts are usually less clutter than five $10 gifts.
3. Ask for consumables instead of non-consumables and experiences instead of material goods.
A fruit basket, a gift certificate to a restaurant, movie passes, a bouquet of flowers, show tickets—these are great gifts that don’t burden your home with new possessions.
4. Suggest donations to charities on your behalf.
It feels great to know that the money that could have gone toward a new sweater you don’t need instead went to a school scholarship that changed the life of a child.
5. Let people know what you actually need.
Even after minimizing, you may have some genuine need for new items in your home, such as a coffeemaker to replace the one that died last week. Let people know ahead of time what your real needs are; be specific. Gift lists can be particularly helpful for out-of-town family members, especially when ever-growing and changing kids are involved.
6. Purge guilt free.
As the value of the gifts you receive begin to reveal themselves, eliminate the unwanted ones without feeling guilty about it. You’ve expressed your appreciation for the sentiment—you’re not obligated to hold on to the object forever. Nobody wants to burden you with a gift.