Minimalism and gift-giving

The manner of giving is worth more than the gift.
~Pierre Corneille

But first, a word from my cat Zoe: “;l” She must be feeling very concise today.

Anyway. As I’ve mentioned before, I like to avoid foisting my lifestyle upon others. But in the area of gift-giving, it can be a little trying. One person thinks “Oh, I need this and this and that and those and…” and I think “Wow, you’ve got a lot of crap…there is not a damn thing I could get you that I’d feel good about purchasing.” Gift-giving can be a drag, sometimes.

My biggest problem with gift-giving isn’t the fact that everyone I know has plenty of stuff and doesn’t really need anymore, it’s the fact that it’s often a social obligation that must be fulfilled by a certain date. I hate feeling under pressure. I’d much rather just randomly gift someone something because I saw it and thought they’d like it. Feeling that I need to get everyone a gift by Christmas is a downer. Of course, I could get around this by Christmas shopping all year, but that never seems to work out for me.

I’ve learned, though, that the people around me are often just fine with my showing up, gift or not. If I can’t find anything, don’t think they need anything, or can’t afford anything, I don’t worry about it. Slap a bow on my head and I’m a present. I’ve never had anyone get offended by my appearing sans gift.

Giving food or booze is always a good idea. I gave my niece a cookie the size of her head for her first birthday. Truffles make for very popular Christmas gifts, and if you know what kind of alcohol a person likes, that’s always appreciated.

I’ve been to a couple weddings where I was able to help pay for the honeymoon instead of giving a typical gift. I prefer that to any number of registries, practical or no. For Christmas last year my two friends got a day trip to a local brewery and the movies and general running around. I had fun, too, so it was a present for all of us.

If I have to give a “regular” gift, I try for something practical. My family does a white elephant gift exchange, and a number of the gifts are tools, kitchen implements, or other nifty things (along with more booze). Useful things tend to stick around more often than kitschy home decor or novelty items. I’ve still got the car air compressor I got last year…I would have gotten a multi-purpose wrench, but my cousin claimed that one from me.

Children are a special case. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to deal with my niece once she gets old enough to want stuff. Right now she’s happy with anything you give her, head-sized cookies included. Her last gift, a big tin of Lincoln Logs, went over extremely well until my sister took it away from her since she was making enough noise to wake the neighbors. But too soon she’ll be old enough to want iPods and Tamagochis or whatever other gizmo is in that year. Who knows what I’ll do then. I’ll figure something out. Until then she can keep banging on that Lincoln Log tin.

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One Response to “Minimalism and gift-giving”

  1. I got my cousin’s little girl some Tinker Toys last xmas. She apparently has been having as much of a blast with them as I did my set when I was her age (and much older… :D)
    I’m a big fan of abstract construction/creation/art gifts for kids. More often than not they’ll get some real use out of them, and it’s much more brain stimulating than an action figure or makeup-case-looking-thing-with-a-tiny-girl-and-swing-set-inside or video game or something.

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