Decluttering has turned me into a Scrooge:)

joann23456October 25, 2010

My birthday is coming up in a few days, and tonight, my sister gave me a very nice set of nesting mixing bowls with pouring spouts and handles. And the only thing I could think was, "Oh, no. Where will I put them?"

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trancegemini_wa

me, I'd use it as an opportunity to toss something else from the kitchen to find a spot for the nice new bowls. :)

    Bookmark   October 25, 2010 at 11:15PM
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joann23456

I tossed everything I didn't want last year, when we remodeled the kitchen. And I almost never use mixing bowls - I use my KitchenAid.

I know, I said I was a Scrooge.:)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 8:27AM
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westvillager

I see a re-gifting moment in your future. Scrooge would do that instead of making an excuse to keep them me thinks.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:26AM
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gayle0000

I definitely understand your issue. I don't have excess. I work hard to not have excess.

It almost makes one feel bad when gifts don't WOW or excite anymore. It's not about the stuff.

I actually keep a running list of gifts I would love to receive, and cross them off when I am gifted or just go out and buy for myself.

Fortunately, my family are the type to ask what I want for BDay or other gifting occasions, so I'm always prepared with a list.

One standing item on my gift list is stamps. One time my mom gave me $50 in stamps, and it was AWESOME! She thought it was weird and impersonal, but to me it was the greatest thing ever. Ha!

Couple of my other standing giftlist items:
Coffee and no coffee accessories - gourmet me if you want, but a can of folgers is just perfect.

Giftcards: I have a list of stores where giftcards are most appreciated.

Gayle

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 5:41PM
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joann23456

I know, Gayle. I'm particularly conflicted when people give me food items in containers like a cute cup, or a nice basket or cannister. On the one hand, I so appreciate the thought, and I like the foods, but I don't want those containers! I make food every year for Christmas and I will only use plastic bags or plain cardboard boxes, so people don't feel bad recycling them.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 9:43PM
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ssnydercpa

and I thought I was alone when it came to cringing when opening ANOTHER clutter gift ;) I'm with you all...I so appreciate the thought...but I'm thinkin, great...somethin else to donate or re-gift.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:05PM
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talley_sue_nyc

I have that same reaction.

In my case, at one point it had ruined gift *giving* for me, bcs I just couldn't believe that anything I gave someone wasn't actually a burden.

And count me as someone who cringes when the container is clearly something you might be intended to keep (basket, jar, etc.)

    Bookmark   October 26, 2010 at 11:30PM
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jannie

I'd compare the set of bowls to the set I already own, keep the one you like better and give the other to charity.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 8:28AM
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Chemocurl zn5b/6a Indiana

Decluttering has turned me into a Scrooge:)
Good for you! You have inspired me to go through and just get rid of all the useless things gifted to me that I had just been keeping because they were gifts. No more...out they go! Boy, I'm feeling really liberated now.

Sue

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 2:39PM
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mustangs81

I here ya'. For years, well our whole long marriage, my DH has not given me gifts for BD, anniversary, Christmas. Only because he doesn't think about it. The last 15 years it has been a blessing. The routine now goes "here is what you bought me for XXX"; then at least I can respond to others who as "what did DH get you for Christmas".

I must be viewed as the toughest buy in the family as a few months ago I gathered up all the gift cards before the expired with the intent to send them in a two day shopping spree...27 cards! I had a real challenge using them and even brought in the 3 and 5 year old DGBs to cash in. I am so continuous when buying for the babies as I don't want to add to the clutter in my DD's small house.

So yes, I am a Scrooge too.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 6:23PM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

Cathy, my dh and I do not exchange gifts ever- our whole 15 year marriage. Well, I guess we did the first year, when he gave me Avon jewelry ( easy, at work the catalog is passed around) and I gave him a shirt he found garish and way too colorful. Sigh. He exchanged the shirt and enjoyed shopping with a gift credit at Dillards. More sighs. I never wore the jewelry.
That was it.
We both buy what we want and get big ticket items together when we need them, on sale.
I have very little clutter but still love to shop. It's fun looking at stuff and of course, the hunt.
Today I spent an hour at Marshalls/Homegoods and bought a new lemon press. The old one has severely chipped enamel and a new one was on the mental list.
I tried on lots of stuff, fondled casserole dishes and towels but was happy with my small purchase.
But I do need a silpat from Aldi as I don't have one!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2010 at 11:02PM
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western_pa_luann

"I'd compare the set of bowls to the set I already own, keep the one you like better and give the other to charity."

That's what I would do too!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 8:08AM
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karinl

This is all quite funny.

It hit me like a bolt of lightening some two years ago that I didn't have to keep items X, Y, and Z forever just because someone dear to me had given them to me. Honestly, I really thought I was stuck with these things as some sort of moral obligation forever, and have had some of them about that long. I finally realized that the items had performed their function the moment they were unwrapped, exclaimed over, and thanked for; after that, I don't expect others to be burdened by gifts I give, and vice versa.

I can love the people whether I keep their plastic elephant or not :-) But I do give it all a fair chance... I think 30 years is fair, and I'm starting to give some of those things away. Having made those decisions, now I can make decisions about new gifts much faster.

My mother actually went through a phase a couple of years ago where she gave back to people some of the gifts they had given her years (and I do mean years!) before.

KarinL

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 11:13AM
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joann23456

I was fortunate. My sister could see I was less than thrilled (I did try!), and she offered to return the bowls.

This is a perfect illustration why I think that magazine are wrong in their, "How to give the perfect gift" articles when they suggest that you give a gift connected with the recipient's hobbies. My sister knows I love to cook, but since *she* doesn't like to cook, she has no idea what I actually need or will use. (As I mentioned, I rarely use mixing bowls.)

Anyway, it all ended well.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 1:12PM
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Frankie_in_zone_7

Depending on your relationship with your sister, you might take the opportunity to say, hey sis, why don't we forget gifts of stuff and make plans for (birthday, Christmas) experiences --go to lunch, go get a manicure, movies, whatever.

I find it hard to do directed -gifting of stuff--as in, I want this but not that, or, tell me what I can buy for you. It seems easier (among adults and especially more established) to just try to get away from stuff altogether. The same could go for spending any money at all on each other--certainly would not want to substitute lunch or movie-going as yet another obligation for Christmas giving--
but more the idea of, what can we do that is a treat but does not leave a trail behind it?

That is why comestibles can still work well (if as noted, do not come in a container that pulls you into the wormhole of saving). I give my in-laws things like jars of pitted Greek olives, or pine nuts (what is life without pine nuts?) --things that as members of the frugal generation, they may not buy; or containers of home-made soup (they were "disposable" Glad containers, but they still returned them to me!). Same for being observant re: someone's favorite wine or spirits, fancy olive oil, whatever you can see they are actually consuming.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2010 at 6:00PM
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lazy_gardens

I finally realized that the items had performed their function the moment they were unwrapped, exclaimed over, and thanked for

I was at a large Buddhist funeral where much of the ceremony consisted of presenting flowers. You took the flowers from a table and laid them on the steps next to the big Buddha statue. I noticed a couple of monks bringing armloads of flowers from the steps back to the table to be re-offered.

They had fulfilled their purpose the instant they touched the steps.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 2:38PM
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jannie

It's a hard lesson to learn and stick to, but when anyone gives you a gift, it is yours to do with as you please. You can keep it, use it, display it, give it to charity, throw it out, or even pass it on (regift) to someone else.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2010 at 2:56PM
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iread06

A Cautionary Tale: Oh, definitely call me Scrooge. I've managed to ruin present giving and receiving for myself. I've seldom had a problem getting rid of unsuitable gifts, but I have a real problem with wasting $$ on useless items. It's true that many gifts can be passed along to someone who will use them, but perhaps the original giver doesn't have extra $$ to throw away. Every time I receive a gift, I feel guilty, and almost every time I give a gift I feel frustrated.

For a while my DSis & I exchanged lists of what our families wanted (including colors & page #'s in catalogs). Then, we began buying gifts for ourselves and our families, wrapping them, & opening them at family events. The person surprised was the person ostensibly giving the gift. "Oh, DS, thank you so much for this turtleneck; it's just what I wanted." For a few years we used this method, and exchanged $$ as needed. Then, we decided we'd buy presents for ourselves and our family members but not wrap them or exchange any $$. We'd just say, "Thanks for this turtleneck I have on. It's your Christmas present to me." Now, we do nothing---no presents for anyone. (Children are grown.)

Meanwhile, as my parents aged, I became the designed gift purchaser for them. One year I bought presents for my parents, presents for them to give my family, and a present for them to give each other. It was just too much!

My DH & I haven't exchanged presents for years. It's practical but not a lot of fun. I still have one friend who insists on exchanging birthday and Christmas gifts. She can't afford to spend what she does so I always feel guilty. No fun.
Pat

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 9:25AM
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jannie

My SIL gave me a good idea. She asked for only "experience" gifts from now on . (Like theatre tickets, movie passes, etc.) Last Christmas I gave her a gift certificate for Blockbuster (before they all closed) a big bowl and several packages of microwave popcorn.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 10:46AM
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jannie

This year I've told everyone "no gifts" at Christmas. DH and I are giving each other an electric stove that looks like a fireplace. (Yep, I picked it out. May not even bother plugging it in. I jusy want the "look" of a fireplace) I'll be making cookies and candies for family members. I like to go to Michaels and get fancy gift boxes. Last year they carried "Martha Stewart" boxes, doilies,etc. Festive and fun,and who doesn't like sweets? If someone is on a diet, they can always bring the goodies to work. Or toss them, I'll never know. It's the thought that counts, I've always been told.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 10:53AM
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lascatx

I have received gifts that weren't needed, didn't fit or just weren't my thing, but I will never stop giving gifts.

This year, I am already working on getting things for my sister, niece and nephew (BIL's yet to be determined). All they give or want is a gift card. They got one from me last year, but not this year. I'm preparing 3 gifts that sort of combine to be one experience gift. They will have an opportunity -- what they make of it is their choice, but I decided I'd rather take a chance on them experiencing something they wouldn't otherwise do -- or maybe not, rather than doing gift cards for each of them again and see the holidays reduced into a tit-for-tat swapping of gift cards. Why bother? And then we're right with Pat. I'm not going to do it! I won't be bah-humbugged out of my holiday joy or my joy any other time of year. In fact, I got a boost just yesterday with shopping for and giving a donation to Toys for Tots -- I had a blast! And I thank 2 cute young boys who became my consultants and their moms for sharing them. They added to my joy. :-)

Gift giving and receiving is a joy. I feel sad for those who have lost that. There is an art to letting people know we care and to taking time to show thoughtfulness and appreciation. So many of us seem to have gotten so busy that we forget that. It becomes a burden, an obligation or it becomes about the "stuff." Or we click and have a package sent to our door or binge at the mall for immediate gratification rather than waiting for the chance of something. No time to plan a special surprise and no anticipation in opening one. It is sad.

You know, when DH and I got married, we got a number of gifts, but I remember two that stood out. One was a candy dish from some very dear older relatives. It was a crystal candy dish that I never, ever would have picked out. The lid had a spike like a Kaiser helmet. We laughed about it. I couldn't part with it, but it didn't belong in my home. So DH and I took it into the office and it sat on his desk. It became a conversation piece --everyone who came into his office saw it, grew to know it and enjoy sharing its changing contents. It became a treasure when we put it in a different setting. Years later, it was broken, and I was truly sad that it was gone. Perspective is everything.

Pat, I challenge you, and anyone who feels as you do, to break away and find the joy again. Ebenezer did it -- you can too.

"I will honour Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future." - A Christmas Carol, Charles Dickens

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 1:08PM
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marti8a

I'm a member of the Scrooge club too. In fact, I think I know which mixing bowls she gave you. I looked at them, thought they were pretty, but my next thought was how much room in the cabinet those handles would take up.

Pat, you could have been telling my story. When my kids were preteens and both sets of grandparents thought it would be easier to send me the money to do their shopping, and I had to do dh's shopping for his parents, brother's family, etc, I nearly had a breakdown.

I don't mind giving gifts that may not be kept, though I do try to put a lot of thought into every gift. My problem are relatives who think they need to give quantity over quality and expect me to display every item. That really does take the joy out of receiving. I need to try to find the joy again too.

    Bookmark   October 30, 2010 at 11:54PM
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joann23456

Marti8a, I'll bet your right - the handles added at least 6" to the bowls!

    Bookmark   November 1, 2010 at 12:02AM
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talley_sue_nyc

ah, but Jannie--you gave her a BOWL!

I've become a fan of the edible gift. Expensive olive oil, truffle oil, gourmet olives,etc.

As for "buying something for their interest" idea: Miss Manners actually says, "Don't. Because they are the expert, they will have definite ideas, and unless you are really plugged in, you won't know what they need."

    Bookmark   November 5, 2010 at 5:27PM
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cefoster

Break away and find the joy in giving.....
I agree with that but only in the sense of what you are giving. Being a Friend and giving of your time, having a lunch together, sharing some laughs - that is what is "giving" to me. The whole "buying" thing has me ill as it is based on materialism - yuck!!! And the holidays and birthdays aren't about the material gifts....
Buying things for people do not fill any void in my life or make me joyful...in fact, it takes precious time away from the time I could acutally be spending with them. Just my thoughts. So I am also in the Scrooge club.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 8:15AM
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joann23456

Oh, Tally Sue, I had the same thought about the bowl! I make these incredible caramels (if I do say so myself) every Christmas. I used to put them in pretty little boxes and tins, but now I put them in pretty paper gift bags, so they can just be reused or recycled.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 11:25AM
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western_pa_luann

"Break away and find the joy in giving.....
I agree with that but only in the sense of what you are giving. Being a Friend and giving of your time, having a lunch together, sharing some laughs - that is what is "giving" to me. The whole "buying" thing has me ill as it is based on materialism - yuck!!! And the holidays and birthdays aren't about the material gifts.... "

I agree!

People - and relationships - are more important than 'stuff'.
Give me your time, not some knick knack.

Guess that makes me a Scrooge too!

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 11:44AM
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jannie

Just a few days after Christmas, we had a big snowstorm. My next door neighbor got out his snowblower and did our sidewalks and driveway. I went out to the store, bought a roll of slice-and-bake chocolate chip cookies, sprinkled them with red and green sugars, and baked 'em . I didn't have a gift box, so I layered some red tissue in a Christmas gift bag that had been been used for a gift already, then hung the bag of cookies on his mailbox. Perfect! My favorite kind of giving-spontaneous.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2010 at 3:56PM
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colorcrazy

Joann, you are not alone. We don't exchange gifts - we go out to dinner with each set of parents instead, at a place a step up from where we would normally go. There is only one child (7 yo) in the family, and of course she gets gifts for her bday and Christmas.

When we were dating, DH brought me a pair of bright purple boots because he knew I loved purple! After that, I said I would rather that we do something fun with the money.

My MIL was a hoarder and we didn't know how bad it was until we were helping her a few months before she died. It was awful - garbage bags of clothes with the tags still on shoved into closets, the attic, and the basement. The "public" areas of the house looked great, so she had us fooled for years.

I still have things that need to be given away, but it gets easier every year.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2010 at 3:56PM
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karinl

I am with lascatx on the joy of giving. I do appreciate edible and usable gifts, and I enjoy time spent, but the act of connecting with someone enough to be able to pick out something they will enjoy receiving is something I still value enough to do it. When someone has "decided to do cookies this year" then I am just one of many trays of cookies to them, not a moment of connection as they think of something that represents whatever it is we share as friends or relatives. They don't even care if I like those cookies or not. I don't care if they make it or buy it, or if it's lasting or fleeting, as long as it's for *me*, as what I do is for *them*. They do the cookies to make themselves feel good, not to make me feel good.

I once bought someone a package of garlic cloves because they reflected something we'd talked about it, and the memory of the laugh when she opened it still lingers ten years later. But I didn't go out saying I will only buy something perishable; I went out looking for the perfect gift.

I do admit I've had a problem with keeping things forever just because they were given to me - something I'm releasing myself from recently. Now, I figure the gift has done its job when it is received and responded to (in economic and personal terms), and I don't have to keep it; I can donate it right away. And then it can cycle through the economy again ...

KarinL

    Bookmark   November 17, 2010 at 1:00PM
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mommabird

I've asked my family to buy me toilet paper, paper towels, Soft Scrub and Scrubbing Bubbles this year for Xmas. It seems I am always out of those items! I use all of them every day and seem to buy them every time I go to the grocery.

Seriously, if someone gave me 6 cans of Scrubbing Bubbles I'd be overjoyed! My mom doesn't believe me, but I'm trying to convince her that I really do want a stock of TP and cleaning supplies.

One year I got XDH's grandma a roll of stamps for Xmas. She giggled like a school girl. She was so tickled to not have to go to the post office for a whole year! She was 90 at the time and any little errand wiped her out for the rest of the day.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2010 at 9:21AM
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talley_sue_nyc

In my ILs' family, we spend Christmas together, so-gifts.

But we don't always know one another really well. We try to be personalized, but it's not always something that work.

Then one year I opened a gift that was corn holders! I'd apparently said at Thanksgiving that I was nearly out, bcs they break, and I wanted GOOD ones. So one of the cousins ran out and got them for me. It was a HOOT! I felt very loved.

I think sometimes people get hung up on the idea that something should be a gift-type gift, and that they have to cost a lot of money. But the gifts I most strongly remember receiving were those corn holders; a package of Pearson's salted nut rolls (can't get them in NY); and a pizza cutter w/ a plastic cover (I'd admired my friend's).

Re: cookies-- One year I gave a cousin a loaf of my pumpkin bread. Because he raved about it so much at Thanksgiving. He was the only one who got one, too. It was very definitely a gift I gave to him alone. It may have been edible, but it was about him.

However, I agree that if someone is giving cookies to everyone, it really isn't that personal.

And mommabird, I do like the idea of "save me the stress!" gifts. I could totally imagine buying you an entire year's supply of toilet paper. (Now that you have room in the garage to put it, right?) Partly bcs then you don't have to remember to buy ig, and partly bcs it would just be funny.

(annual cost for a family of 4: $140 http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/organ/msg101959151401.html?31 )

Here is a link that might be useful: how much toilet paper one guy used in a year--42rolls

    Bookmark   November 20, 2010 at 10:03PM
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brendalyntc

I love the validation this thread is giving me. I've come to dislike the holidays. DH will probably buy me something with OUR money that I probably don't want. Hordes of people are buying crap they don't need and might not be able to afford, and goodies are everywhere that I'm trying to limit my intake of. I could go on and on, but that's Scroog-ish enough.

I do thank the posters who are more positive, because I do not like being this way. I need an intervention.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2010 at 2:51PM
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trilobite

One was a candy dish from some very dear older relatives. It was a crystal candy dish that I never, ever would have picked out. The lid had a spike like a Kaiser helmet.

Hee! My grandparents had that exact same candy dish. Spike like a Kaiser helmet indeed.

On the topic of this thread, a friend has gifted our baby daughter with a thingie that is supposed to be a baby item for now and something that she wears as part of her wedding regalia when she gets married. I have to admit, my first thought was, "Oh goody. Something we're supposed to hold onto for decades."

    Bookmark   December 12, 2010 at 12:18PM
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jannie

I've heard of that item,trilobite. It's a lace baby bonnet that turns intp a hanky a bride is supposed to carry as "something old". I wouldn't give it as a gift. I have tons of keepsakes from when my babies were little. Don't need to feel obligated to hang onto something fOR 20 plus years.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2010 at 8:58AM
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jannie

I had a cousin who was a nun (now deceased). Poverty, chastity, obedience, right? . She used to give me girly things for gifts, like doilies and handkerchiefs with tatted edging she made herself. Tatting is an old needle art, like crochet or lace making. I never knew what to get her, until another relative suggested postage stamps and nice stationery. Gift giving solved!

    Bookmark   December 14, 2010 at 3:43PM
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