Friday, July 1, 2011

Gift Giving

One thing about having your own blog that it is not dedicated to any particular subject, means that I can write about anything; religion, politics, the environment, my chooks, climate change, peak oil, my chooks, gardening, the weather and anything that crosses my mind at 2 o’clock in the morning :)

So today I am going to write about gift giving. It has come up recently so I have been thinking about it, and it is only 6months til Christmas, so if you think that is a long way away, think again.

I believe that a lot of people give gifts out of obligation rather than because they want to say “I care and am thinking about you”. This isn’t everyone, and I don’t even think this is the majority of people, but I still think it is true to a certain degree.

The thing I really don’t like about gift giving is the consumerism of it all. We are bombarded with advertising every Christmas, Easter, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, end of financial year, telling us we must buy all this stuff. It is shoved down our throats and people feel entitled to receive.

Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t have stuff, our much loved things (like my books) are the things that are a part of us and make our house a home, make life comfortable and enjoyable. I just think we have too much and we want it all now. I am including myself in this category so I am not just pointing fingers here.

So when it comes to gift giving, it is very difficult as we already have it all. Kids have toys coming out their ears, we have DVD’s and CD’s as they are cheap to buy so we get them when we see them. And that is the other point in all this, everything is cheap. Which also means that a lot of things also break in five minutes.

So because we have it all, because it is so cheap that we just buy it whenever we have the impulse and also because finance is easy to get (how many credit cards do you really need? Probably none) how can we appreciate anything that is given to us as a gift because someone has thought about us and wanted to give us something that says I care?

However, despite the fact that every year I have an internal (and sometimes external) rant about Christmas, and the fact that it is often about how much we get (I think about Harry Potter here where his cousin counts how many gifts he receives and it must be more than the year before) and how I hate consumerism, and we have way too many things and all that, I still give gifts. I try not to give useless crap, try not to give anything that will break in five minutes, try not to give dust collectors and try not to give anything that is ugly (plenty of ugly things out there).

So here are some gift ideas, usually coming to me in the middle of the night,, not all are exciting but hopefully useful or wanted and not expensive. Though I must say for myself, my favourites are handmade things that are useful (or pretty like a child’s drawing) and anything I can eat or drink.


Beach towels
Colouring pencils and pencil case
Bed sheets
Sack of crap (my personal favourite, a reusable bag full of the stuff they aren’t normally allowed to eat, lollies, chips etc)
Wooden toys (not plastic, these will last longer and if you choose carefully aren’t full of toxins)
Water bottle


ITunes card
Sack of crap (this really is a big hit)
Tools (for their developing tool box, this is for boys and girls)
Gift card
Magazine subscription
Movie Voucher
Cool water bottle


Magazine subscription
Chocolates (and other yummy food)
Movie vouchers
Handmade useful things like: Crochet/Knitted dishcloths
Crochet topped towels
Coat hangers (so many people use
plastic coat hangers, Yuk)
Homemade edible goodies
Water bottle (everyone carries their own now)
Stuff for the garden – seeds, gardening gloves
Gift card

Donate to a charity on someone’s behalf, there are ones that will send out cards to let them know that you have bought them a gift of school supplies, or chooks or garden seeds or whatever you choose, which is helping people in this world who need it. This is a personal favourite of mine, let them know beforehand this is what you are doing, they may have a favourite charity.

You can always go the way of not giving gifts, but you can have a party/BBQ instead, at a park or at home (not my choice prefer these things away from home as then there is less cleaning up) and celebrate that way, with good company. Giving the gift of time instead of spending money you may not have.

There are lot of people struggling financially and we really need to think of other ways to celebrate these occasions, to not overindulge, to feel obligated to spend huge amounts of money that we may not have. We also need to be appreciative when people do give us gifts, that someone has been thinking about us and taken the time to purchase or make us a gift.

We live in such a throwaway society that we barely think about it when giving or receiving gifts, we just do. I would love to see us go back to homemade gifts (though a lot of people laugh at this) and small things like hankies (I love pretty hankies) or pretty stationary to write letters on (though I am an email person myself). We need to think about these things more, be mindful of our gifts, giving and receiving, not mindless.


  1. That is a subject close to my heart. All my family know not to give me something on a "hallmark holiday" Red roses forced to bloom on valentines day don't last for five minutes, but cost a fortune. An impromptu card or call any other day of the year means more to me than a call on mothers day. At Christmas time we put our names in a hat and then just buy one present, but we are not allowed to spend more than 50.00. Grandkids are exempt from this practice. Some of my most memorable Christmas memories are when we had no money and all the gifts were handmade.

  2. I agree. Personally I love consumable and practical gifts; lovely lotion, yummy treats, garden gloves, a new scarf, etc. I already have lots of stuff to dust...

    We try and listen through the year for the 'one of these days' statements from our kids. One year everyone got Sonic-Care tooth brushes. Our daughter-in-law said "One of these days, I'm going to buy those for us." I wrote it down and the 'day' was Christmas. Or for the kids that go to the coffee shop for fancy and costly coffee we bought an espresso machine. It has saved them $100.00's.

  3. It is really important to listen to people, and then you can give them something they will use, otherwise it is a waste of your time and money.

    I have a friend who was telling me that they didn't have many coat hangers and they were all plastic so I made them some covered ones. They loved them.

    I have a friend who has told people that unless she can eat it or drink it, don't bother :) Pass the chocolates this way :D

  4. Thanks for these great ideas KJ. In my current situation, and 6 months of Christmas, I've been thinking about obligatory vs. truly giving gifting.