I have a dear funny, sweet and kind friend who has a collection of elephants.
She doesn’t actually collect elephants. She has nothing against them, but has never actively collected them.
They are all gifts from one person. Who insists on buying them for her whenever they spot one.
Being an immensely kind and warmhearted person, Rena has never been able to say thank you, but no.
From the very first surprised delight at being given a gift (an elephant) she had created her future. A future involving elephants at every turn. Every nook and cranny.
You get the picture. She’s running out of places to put elephants in her house.
Elephants she doesn’t even want…
What would you have done in her place?
How do we avoid getting unwanted gifts in the first place?
They are one of the most troublesome types of Things to deal with when trying to declutter your life and your home. Especially if the giver expects to see them when ever they visit.
So what can we do?
You could explain you’re a Less-Stuff-Less-Stress born again minimalist.
Or crown yourself the Declutter King or Queen!
Unfortunately some people have other ideas. You know your friends and family, you know the person who races out at the last minute and buys something weird so they don’t arrive empty handed isn’t going to be the problem.
It’s the kind hearted loving soul who took the time to buy you something they think is perfect for you. Or the (slightly scary) bossy generous wonderful giving person who really believes you should have this thing.
Before the round of Christmas present giving starts, let it be widely known you no longer do presents – you only give and receive experiences, consumables or charitable donations and keep present giving to your immediate family. Use Facebook, Christmas card mail-outs, family newsletters, what ever it takes.
Give them specific ideas for gift types that are suitable. If you find that makes you feel squeamish, think about your priorities. If you’re happy with the way things are, fantastic! If you’d rather not have to find a space for another Thing that you never use and don’t like, you are going to have to take action now.
But what about the stubborn ones? Those who arrive with Things regardless of your wishes? You know it’s all about them right? How they feel about what they give you and the pleasure they receive from giving a traditional Thing.
Regardless of whether they had or hadn’t received your no-presents communications you can deal with them the same way.
You might choose to accept their gift graciously and donate it. And you could have a loving conversation about your new priorities and less-stress lifestyle, reinforcing how much you appreciate their thoughtfulness, but all you really want is their company. Let them know they can take the gift back for a refund or know that you will be passing it on to those in need. If necessary give them alternatives for future gift giving.
Prepare now for the seasonal onslaught of Things, with love, kindness and generosity.
But do it soon, Christmas will be upon us before we know it!
Have a happy, stress-free holiday!