I know all about organizing and am pretty good at taking care of my home. I’ve read Marie Kondo and tried to get rid of everything that didn’t “spark joy” but there is one problem I simply can’t solve. I don’t know how to throw away gifts from friends and family. I know I can re-gift but I’m fearful of giving something to the person that gave it to me. Keeping a list so I don’t make that mistake seems sort of cynical. I have a huge family and lots of generous friends. I resist having parties because I don’t want any more hostess gifts. Help!
I hear you. At Done and Done we come across this problem all the time. Many of our clients have a closet full of gifts that they don’t want, don’t want to re-gift, and don’t want to throw in the trash. Sound familiar?
Maybe it’s because we live in a time when it’s so easy to get the things we want that gift giving is almost too much. We can also easily get gifts for others by going online and ordering something so perhaps not as much time, thought, or money goes into giving gifts as it once did.
I’m not sure of the cause but I do know it’s a real problem.
I believe the gift once given belongs to the recipient. By thanking the person for the gift you have done your part. You are under no obligation to keep, wear, display, bathe in or use anything you don’t like or don’t want.
Here’s what I do – donate the item while it’s still good. Somehow people have gotten confused about donating and feel things have to worn out or out of style before they can be donated. I simply keep a bag in my closet for items I don’t want that have made their way into my home.
Brand new candle from a friend but I don’t love the scent? In the bag. A couple of books that someone gave me and I did enjoy but I know I’m never going to read again? In the bag. A beautiful scarf in a color I don’t wear? In the bag.
I’ve gotten to the point where I feel great about the things I donate. Somebody really will want them and maybe they’ll sell for a good price at Good Will. I’m helping create jobs there, helping someone else afford something that might have been out of their reach if it was full retail price and putting a pretty, clean, new something out in the world for someone else to enjoy.
And as far as gift giving? The Done and Done philosophy remains “Burn it. Eat it. Spend it.” That means candles, food and wine or gift cards and things that get used up in time. I’ve recently come across www.goldbelly.com which has food from all different regions of the USA. I wouldn’t be disappointed if somebody sent me the Chicago style hotdog kit! That isn’t going to end up in a closet. It would barely make it out to my brother’s house in NJ where we would show his sons what they missed out on by not growing up within walking distance of Little Louie’s. (www.little-louies.com)
You can always give tickets to an event or a class but in that case I’d ask the person if they’re interested. Just because I’d love to go to another cooking class doesn’t mean they would and believe it or not, musical theatre is not for everybody.
See what I did here? You asked about receiving and somehow I made it about giving. Maybe if we all got better at giving – like a pretty bouquet that can be thrown out without guilt next week – the problem would take care of itself.
Keep the questions coming to firstname.lastname@example.org!