Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Present Dilemma

Late April to Late June are chock full of celebrations for the Cluttered Family. Starting in late April, we have the following birthdays/celebrations approximately every 1-2 weeks:
  • my birthday
  • Mother's Day
  • Little Man's Birthday
  • Diesel's Birthday
  • Father's Day
  • our anniversary
This year we also add to the mix the baby "sprinkle" for Maverick at the beginning of May and his arrival in late May/early June.

With space at a premium in our home and now that we're really trying to be intentional about what we allow to take up this space, I'm finding myself struggling with how to convey to friends & family that while we appreciate gifts for such occasions, they really don't need to buy us gifts for these occasions-- or how to convey that IF they feel they want to give us something, to ask what it is we really need or want.

Of course, some of these occasions, like Mother's and Father's Day and our anniversary are ones that will just be celebrated by the 3 (and eventually 4) people in our family, so there is more "control" there. For the past few years we've done nothing for Mother's and Father's Day, and will probably continue with this until the boys start bringing home macaroni adorned crafts and handmade cards from school. Our anniversary also goes by without gifts and fanfare. We usually try to go out to dinner and last year, being a milestone anniversary, we took a trip, but we don't give each other gifts and dinner is usually something non-extravagant.

But how to deal with the well-intentioned gift givers who give us things we don't need or have space for? I don't mean to sound ungrateful. Quite the opposite, I'm very grateful that there are people who love us and are so very generous with us. It just creates a new layer of how to de-stuff our home and life-- and how to convey that to the people we know an love in a non-offensive way.


  1. Wow - that's a hard one. My first grandchild was born 6 mos. ago - as Christmas approached I was informed I was allowed to give 1 gift and 1 stocking stuffer. I asked if in addition would I be allowed to give a savings bond (for Henry for college) and yes, that was allowed! They are trying to keep "stuff" down, too. There's no way to stop some people - all I can say is make sure your wishes are known and be gracious when they are ignored. Quietly do returns or donations as appropriate. Some people are just going to ignore what you say and there isn't much you can do about that. I'm really impressed with what you're doing. Best wishes as you await your little addition!

  2. Sue-- it is great that your kids are able to tell you something like that and have you heed it. I know some people who if given those parameters, ESPECIALLY if said parameters were regarding their grandchild, would buy something large or over-buy just out of spite. I love the idea of doing a savings bond and a small gift. My dad is good about giving gift cards, but this year I think I'm going to ask that whatever money he'd put towards a gift card for Little Man be put in LM's 529 instead. We haven't spent all the $ on the gift card he sent for Christmas, so we can still make sure that LM has a (small) gift to open from his Pops.
    And thank you for the best wishes on our soon-to-be new addition!

  3. Maybe you could suggest that what you really want is more family time and activities. So instead of toys or more stuff people could get you gift certificates/tickets/memberships to family friendly places like children's museums or the zoo or whatever you have down there. It is tough when people don't understand and follow your wishes when it comes to gifts. I feel really lucky that for the most part both sets of grandparents get that we don't need every toy available. I'm sure I'll have to remind them of that several times as the kids get older, but they seem receptive. Hopefully over time your gift givers will start to see what you are trying to do and get on board the simplicity train with you.

  4. This is a tough one! I feel like I will offend people if I even make a request like this. My parents get the kids whatever, they always love it, and eventually if it something that doesn't fit our home or lifestyle it gets donated, or put in the one tub of "rainy day" toys in the garage that I pull out when we need a change of pace. I love that you are being intentional about things, though. One friend of ours just says, "no gifts please" for birthdays. I try to find out what people want or need. There is always the Amazon wish list you can steer loved ones to, as well.


Your comments make my day-- seriously. Thank you for taking the time to comment on my posts. I will do my best to respond!