2.1.15

Not Gift Free

Confession time, I'm not gift free yet. This Christmas these lovely gifts came into my life:

Vouchers to spend on clothes and eating out
Books including: The Goldfinch - Donna Tart, The Body Book - Cameron Diaz and Walden -Thoreau
Running shoes
Diary  
Calendar 
Mug
Fairy Lights 
Food and drink treats
Bath and shower treats
Scarf 

I feel very lucky to have received such delightful things and touched by the thoughtfulness and generosity that lay behind this gift giving. And despite my general anti-consumerism it's exciting to have something new. I like to think of these gifts as tools which will add value and pleasure to my life whether that's to teach me new things, to improve my fitness or to indulge my senses. But they are more than that, they represent that someone in the gift giving cares about me. Someone cares enough to buy me a surprise (Thoreau), something I need (replacing my worn-out running shoes) or something I've talked about (fairy lights). OK, so saying I couldn't justify buying myself a strand of mood enhancing luminous orbs was a bit of a gambit. 

So, with all this abounding generosity I want to fully appreciate each gift, savour it and get good use out of it. The chocolates and biscuits will be eked out to give pleasure over the next few months, the books will be read and possibly re-read and new clothes will be purchased after careful consideration (I'm thinking of saving my vouchers for summer items). I'll enjoy the simple pleasure of reading and of learning. I should get fitter, I might will get more organised. I'll certainly relax with my bath bomb and my body scrub. I'll have new clothes to wear and calming lights to create ambience in the evenings. I'll feel pampered, educated and well dressed. A couple of gifts will be donated to charity as I know they won't be used. More giving – win, win!

We have scaled down our gift giving over recent years and present buying in our family has become more grounded but Christmas still leaves me feeling over consumerised. I've realised we have more work to do in buying less and in feeling comfortable with that and with other people's generosity (which we have less control over). There is value in gift giving though, I think, especially when the gifts are a perfect match. It helps us to connect to those we care about, make the effort to think of their needs and then spend unhurried time with them (the best bit) when we exchange gifts. It feels good to give, to receive and to say thank you. 

How about you? Were you happy with your gift giving this year? Could it be improved? I'd love to hear from you.



26 comments :

  1. Sounds like you got the balance just about right. We cut down greatly on what we give each other for Christmas this year, just buying a couple of smaller gifts, and it was definitely a success. I felt just as treated and cared for, and had the anticipation of looking forward to the items I had asked for, lovely soap to enjoy over the coming months and some new paints for my art hobby. With the added bonus that it was easy to put away and I can actually remember what I received this year! I made a lot of my gifts for friends which were very well received. I am working on cutting down and more decluttering is needed, but less is coming in, and the simpler Christmas will definitely be staying. Jane

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  2. I received an embarrassing amount of gifts, each one suited to me and all will be cherished. I have enough chocolate to last the year out and will probably share that with friends. My family have to a man asked for quilts next year, and even better they all said Scrappy and Bright. My 2 favourite words when it comes to sewing. Think of the joy in sewing 9 scrappy quilts, I have ordered the wadding and just have to find room to store it.

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    1. How wonderful to receive just what you wanted.

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  3. Hubby and I didn't buy each other gifts this year but I got some lovely stuff like scented candles, which I love, and some chocolate which I adore but simply MUST share before I regret eating it all! My best friend and I agreed on a token £5 gift for each of us and our hubbies. I got some much needed new slippers (£5...really?) and hubby got a bottle of wine (he can share that too...lol...) I set a budget for DD and her family (4 of them) and stuck to it. They all loved their new PJ's (the adults) and dressing gowns (kiddies). Throughout the year I snapped up little bargain buys too so that they had lots of gifts to open. Father in Law at the age of 92 was the hardest to buy for but new braces for his trousers, some tiny jams arranged in a cello bag and 2 new mugs went down well! I will definitely plan and buy early again for 2015

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    1. Yes, I do think planning is needed to buy thoughtfully.

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  4. Even though I said not to, naughty people bought me gifts too - a calendar, salty caramel treats, a lovely scented calendar and a fluffy blanket in case I'm cold living in a motorhome. I am not but it's still lovely to have!

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    1. Sounds like some very thoughtful gifts - enjoy!

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  5. Me and my husband only spend a small amount on each other, this year it was the most as I asked him for a fob watch as I've changed jobs and can't wear one on my wrist and I treated him to membership to a club for his hobby. All the gifts I received are so appreciated and were perfect.

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    1. I think there's a lot of joy to be found in really appreciating a new gift.

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  6. I had a simpler Christmas too this year. Receiving a few things you know you need or have wanted is better than receiving things you know you won't read or don't need. I've blogged about what I received for Christmas, and I'm sticking with your want, wear, need and read for birthdays and Christmas. Thank you so much Claire for your inspiring blog, I look forward to see what 2015 brings you. Happy New Year! Xx

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    1. Thank you for your lovely words and happy 2015 to you too xo

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  7. How lovely, you sound very contented!
    We also had the smoothest, quietest Christmas and New Year ever, I think. After 30 years of wrapping masses of presents, even after reducing a lot, this year, I wrapped 5 small parcels! (4 more small gifts that I sent abroad were sent directly wrapped.). We spent lots of time in candlelight! The grandkids inherited their mum's and aunts' Playmobil in two big tubs, their parents got a family pass for the zoo for a whole year and the other gifts were small and practical and covered a "need". I was very pleased to receive small gifts I can use or use up - my favourite English chocolate, bath goodies, chocolates, home-made lip and hand balm, hand-sewn needle holder for my knitting… and my husband added to my charm bracelet with a very thoughtful trinket. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with the two sides of our family and otherwise had a very peaceful time. I was lucky enough to get new ski boots (my old ones were 15 years old) when we picked my daughter's snowboard up from its service, so that was special - we've had the most beautiful snow since the 27th, which has been the prettiest gift of all for the whole week!! There has been zero stress or madness and very little consumerism around - it feels as if everyone around here has put the brakes on a bit, but that may just be my perception. It certainly seems quieter than in past years. The year started equally peacefully and will get off to a "working" start on the 5th, so a couple more days to go, yet!

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    1. Enjoy the peace - sounds like a very calming Christmas. Lovely to hear from you and happy 2015 xo

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  8. You seem to have done well in reducing your gifts Claire and consumables, vouchers and books are what our family regards as perfect gifts.
    Claire I hope you will enjoy "Walden". I read it at sixteen and have tried to follow his wise words (with varying degrees of success!) all my life. I have a hard copy and one on my Kindle so it is always available to dip into for inspiration.

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    1. Yes, don't know why I haven't read this before, I know so many of his quotes so will be great to read the whole text!

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  9. Consumables (whether food or smellies/ candles or experiences) are my preferred presents - and I received some lovely consumable ones this year :) I would rather have temporary clutter of, say, an excess of bath products which will be used throughout the year than another ornament or similar. I did get an ipod from my husband, though (not an itouch, I don't need that) - as my last one died and I've been missing the portability of them for music here there and everywhere :) I also received a Kilner jam pan (was on my wish list) from my mum, which will get much use (I currently use a large stock pot, but it's not heavy weight enough for the long slow cook required, really) I have to confess that a couple of presents throughout the family were unsuitable and returned for credit vouchers (yeay for gift receipts!) and these will be spent on required items throughout the year x

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    1. I agree. Temporary clutter is OK and being clutter adverse does make you use up those consumables.

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  10. I didn't receive many gifts this year...a delicate silver chain necklace that I immediately put on, a paper back book that can be passed on when I've finished, some chocolate & a few other things. What I found wonderful is that I cut down on what I gave so shopping & wrapping took hardly any time at all. I was able to sit back, relax & enjoy the season. One of my best Christmases ever.

    I'm looking forward to another year of Just a Little Less...both your blog & the lack of things in my life.

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    1. Lovely to hear from you. Getting through some good reads and chocs here too!

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  11. We all decided against gift giving this year, but as usual we all caved in and gave gifts to each other, knowing that my Mum just couldn't turn up empty handed (lovely Mum that she is), but they were small gifts and it was a good swap of things we like. Food and drink items mostly and my lovely son came with two bags of chopped kindling wood for our log burner, a thoughtful gift and something that with his lack of funds cost him only time and effort (he gets the wood free from work).

    All very appreciated, and it made for a non-commercial Christmas, which in my mind is the best kind.

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  12. Hey Claire,
    This year I asked family and friends not to buy for me and my family, as I wanted to donate to the NSPCC instead. I had seen a documentary on child poverty in the UK and it moved me so much that I felt I had to say 'enough of the stuff.' I explained that my boys would get gifts from us, and they understood and supported my wishes that we didn't receive from others.
    In the end, my Mum did buy me a Kindle. It was appreciated, but leaves me with another dilemma as I was going to try my best to only buy second hand books this year.....
    I have been so very inspired by your blog on trying to achieve a more mindful and simpler way of living. I love the honesty of acknowledging the difficulties you sometimes face. I have started this year with some personal goals for paring back. Perhaps one book a month on the Kindle and the rest from the library or second hand?
    Leanne xx

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  13. Those are some lovely gifts! I'm slowly trying to consume less, but around the holidays I tend to get way too caught up in the joy of giving... I will try to do better next year!

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  14. We have tried to scale down our gifts over the year. We try and give consumable presents although I always have a book on my Christmas list! Sarah x

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  16. What lovely fairy lights! Do you know where they're from?
    How are you enjoying The Body Book? I was so intrigued when I heard she was writing a book!
    These are all humble, joy-sparking gifts. I think Marie Kondo would be proud. :)

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Thanks for reading and leaving your comments. Keep in touch xo