Gifting, gifting

I don’t know starting when, holiday becomes a gifting season.  People scratch their heads, and try to figure out what gifts they should buy.  It could be very stressful.

I’m not good at gifting.  I don’t like buying gifts, and don’t like receiving gifts either.  To me, a simple life is a good life.  But, sometimes, I do have to go through the gift selecting process. I have to admit, it is hard.

Gifting is one way to express love and caring.  But, I feel that, many times, gifting is wasting the money and time.  How do you know the person who is to receive the gift will really like it?

At the moment you present the gift, the person may tell you he/she likes it.  Right after you have left, the gift is probably moved to the basement, garage or the closet, and never sees the daylight again.  At the end, it may end up in the trash can, and later land-fill place.

How sad it is!  You spent so many hours thinking about what to buy, then went to the store and got it.  Then you wrapped it up using the beautiful paper.  Your dear and hard-earned money was gone.  But your gift may never ever be used.  It just becomes another item in the clutter.  Or it is either returned to the store, or re-gifted.

Do you remember The Toaster story in the comedy Everybody Loves Raymond?

GYM of Gen Y Money wrote a great article “8 Minimalist Gifts That Won’t Be Thrown Away“.

I hate to see stuff and money wasted.  Here are some forms of gifts I like personally:

  • Eat out together:

Who refuses eating out?  It’s a great time to sit down with family and friends, and relax.  No worry about cooking, and cleaning.  Select a good restaurant, let everyone order their own favorite food, and enjoy the meal and time together.

  • Gift cards:

Gift card is not a bad idea, if you know which stores or restaurants the person usually goes to.  Grocery store, department store, hardware store, coffee shop, bakery, etc.

  • Flowers:

I like to bring fresh flowers as gifts for ladies.  A pot of flowers would be great, as it can be watered, and last longer.  The flower boutique is fine, too.  It looks fresh and pretty.  The only drawback is that, it lasts less than one week.

  • Write a check:

I know I’m the dinosaur who still uses checks.  When gifting to parents or kids, can we write a check?  It’s the least time-consuming way.  Who doesn’t like money?  But, here is the question:  is money the proper gift for everyone?  I’m not sure.

What do you do when you receive a unwanted gift?

I’m sure each of us has faced this dilemma before.  After all, you are the passive recipient, not much choice there.  What can you do?  You can’t just directly say: “Sorry, but I really don’t need it (or like it).  Can you please bring it back?”  That would hurt.

Okay, the person has left, and the ugly gift is sitting in your living room.  You don’t want to have anything to do with it.  What should you do about it?  A big question.

Should you re-gift it?  Probably not, as re-gifting is not solving the problem, just transferring the problem to someone else.  Putting it in the storage room or trash can is not good either.  It triggers the guilty feeling.

I couldn’t find any perfect solution about unwanted gift, except one thought: Don’t send out unwanted gifts.  In another word, don’t spend your money and create the problem for someone else the first place.

Dear readers, what gifts do you usually buy?  What do you do when receiving the unwanted gifts?  Please share your smart gifting ideas with each of us.

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10 Responses

  1. Katrin says:

    We always have family over to our house on boxing day (Dec 26), and last year we asked everyone to only gift consumables. But we still ended up with some buying and gifting stuff that’s only sitting around in our basement cupboards since it’s things we didn’t need and actually don’t use.

    So this year we’ve asked everyone to only gift one piece of Christmas ornament to hang on the tree, and we plan to keep it at that for future Christmases as well. Everybody seemed quite happy with this, and I think it’s going to be nice to look at the different ornaments and think back of those days together in Christmases to come. (And I really hope that everyone actually sticks with what we agreed this year :-))

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Katrin, consumable gift is a great idea. Gifting one piece of Christmas ornament is also cool, so the decoration is a combination of different flavors. Yeah, you can also reuse those ornaments for the following Christmases. Those gifts are always reminders of the great time of being together. Thanks a lot for sharing your gifting ideas.

  2. Hi Helen, I love your quote….
    “I’m not good at gifting. I don’t like buying gifts, and don’t like receiving gifts either.”
    I am exactly the same. Some folks are really into gifting and that’s okay, but it’s just not part of my DNA.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Tom, yeah, gifting is a daunting task to me. Probably part of the reason is that, I don’t like shopping. Inside the mall, I can only tolerate max 30 minutes, start feel exhausted, and have to get out of there quickly. Grocery shopping is something I have to do weekly, but I try to wrap up as quickly as possible. Some of my female friends like shopping, and sometimes invite me to join them. My reply is always: no, thank you.

  3. Joe says:

    I like to buy gifts that help us spend time together. This year, I’m getting 2 board games for us. It should be a lot of fun. I’m also getting some Lego for our son. It’s much easier to buy gifts for kids. For older people, we rarely give gifts. It’s too hard to buy for other people. I told my wife to buy something herself this year.

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Joe, getting board games is a good idea. It is fun and family time, and also keeps the brain active. Yeah, kids love Lego, that’s really cool toy, with tons of possibilities. It is hard to buy gifts for adults. In my family, we usually eat out around Christmas, enjoy the holiday decorations, music and spirit. No gift exchanges.

  4. GYM says:

    Thanks for the mention Helen! We like the same gifts!

    My sister just got me a souvenir mug from Puerta Vallarta. It’s sitting on my table and I’m contemplating just giving it away. I feel bad… but like you said, it’s just sitting there! I’d much rather have consumables, like a snack from Mexico! My mom always gets me bookmarks when she goes away, but she’s gotten better lately.

    My mom loves collecting knick knacks/ loves hoarding, so when I travel I do get her a souvenir placemat (yes, she collects them/ uses them).

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi GYM, yeah, we do like the same gifts. Consumable gift is cool, like snacks, pies, etc. It must be fun collecting the souvenir placemats. When I visited China, usually I brought some Hershey’s chocolate. Just something to share with family and friends. Overall, I feel gifting is such a big task that consumes energy.

  5. Gaby says:

    I’m similar as I’ve increasingly grown wary of fighting crowds at the mall or stores, added to the fact that the people for whom I’m shopping for don’t actually NEED anything! That usually adds to the grumpiness which is not good for getting into the Christmas spirit, I admit.
    So now, our families do Amazon wish lists, because otherwise, we know we’ll be gifted with something unwanted and unnecessary. The first year we did it, I felt weird adding things to the list and sending them to people, but now we know that this is just how it works, otherwise my mother in law will get us junk:/

    • Retire Early Helen says:

      Hi Gaby, yeah, it is a dilemma. We want to buy something that is really needed or at least liked, but not sure what they like. It’s quite a guessing game. The wish lists sound a good idea, help to make shopping a little bit easier, and avoid wasting the money.

      Once a while, I saw the commercial, showing the husband bought a luxurious car for his wife as a surprise gift. I always wonder: how did he know that’s exactly the car and accessories she wanted? Did he use his own money or joint money? Ha ha, too many questions.

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