Family of N

Simple Gifts

Posted in Uncategorized by Laura on April 21, 2009
Photo from Public Domain Pictures

The Family of N is moving next week. It’s been a good chance to assess how we’ve been doing at limiting what comes in our house to that which is truly beautiful and useful, a challenge that has gotten quite a bit harder since our little Savannah arrived. And you know what I’ve found? I think we (and our generous but thoughtful families!) have done a great job of saying “no” to clutter and “yes” to simplicity.

Gift-giving holidays are a challenge in this area for many of us. What should be a blessing — the generosity of others — can turn into a burden. You already have too much stuff, and now more is being added to the pile. And because people are so thoughtful, there really isn’t anything in the pile you don’t like. It’s just that you don’t need it, and that you do need to have less of it.

So what do you do to encourage simplicity without discouraging gift-givers? Small Notebook featured a great post yesterday with some great ideas of gifts that don’t add to the clutter. I’m following suit to list some favorite ideas I’ve seen suggested before. I’d love to hear how you handle this (or plan to handle this) as well.

  • Ask for consumable gifts (food, restaurant gift certificates, stickers, bubbles, chalk, crayons and coloring books, other craft materials, movie/concert/event tickets, museum membership). Magazine subscriptions can probably also go here, because after they’ve been read, they can be recycled or donated.
  • Ask for practical gifts (clothing, shoes, books, sippy cups or water bottles, lunch boxes)
  • Ask for the person to do plan a special day with the child — a trip to the zoo or museum, dinner and a movie, a time where they teach the child a craft, etc.
  • Specifically ask gift-givers to keep it simple.
  • Ask for toys that are inherently simple — blocks, heirloom quality dolls or wooden toys. Stress that if they want to spend a certain amount, one nice toy is better than five less expensive toys — and remind them that it’s not because of the price tag.
  • Ask for gifts to augment things the child already has. For instance, if the child has a doll, ask for a new outfit for the doll. Or if the child already has blocks, ask for colored blocks or blocks in other shapes.
  • Ask for gifts that could replace toys they already have — and then follow through with the one-in, one-out rule.
  • Send a box of toys home with the grandparents or someone else you visit often, so that the children can play with those toys there.
  • Teach the child about giving by having them go through their toys and choose something to donate.
  • Decide not to keep things that are broken.
  • Keep all but a few of the toys in a box in the closet where the child won’t get to them. Rotate the ones that you keep out so there’s some variety.
  • Ask for “virtual” gifts. My dad recorded himself reading a favorite children’s story for Savannah. She will always have that special memento, and it doesn’t take up any space.

What do you think of these ideas? Too directed? Tough to sell to doting family? Leave your thoughts in the comments!

2 Responses

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  1. Harmony said, on April 21, 2009 at 7:35 am

    No hard sells here. 😉

  2. Hampers said, on August 3, 2009 at 2:14 am

    I like to receive simple gift. Your blog looks perfect. Cheers 🙂

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