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No Birthday Gifts This Year and What We’re Doing Instead

I know, I know. Are you thinking, “No birthday gifts, WHAAAAAAAT?!” Don’t worry. I am not depriving my children of love. I’m actually doing quite the opposite. I am still giving my children gifts, but they are a bit different then tangible items wrapped in shiny paper with bows.  

No Birthday Gifts This Year and What We're Doing InsteadBefore I get into the nitty gritty, let me explain why I decided to change the way I give gifts. It started with the holidays last year when I almost had a mental breakdown preparing for all of the holiday gifts that were about to arrive at our house. I felt as though my entire day consisted of tidying up and putting things away. Everywhere I looked, there were toys, clothes, and things that were bringing no joy to my family. How could I possibly add more chaos to this mess?!

So, I decided to make a change and I started purging. 

I went through every room in our house and got rid of items that we were no longer using. Things that were broken, too small, not age appropriate, etc. This took a very long time and the results were life changing. Seriously. Not being bogged down with clutter is an incredible feeling. I see my kids using their imagination and playing together more because they are not overwhelmed by too many toys. As a family, we are watching less t.v. and are able to enjoy each other more. This is an amazing feeling! 

Now, when a gift-giving opportunity comes around, the last thing I want to do is bring more gifts in the house and get back the cluttered-stressful state we were in before. However, I do get joy out of giving gifts. It’s such a good feeling to find the perfect gift for someone you love. You know, the kind of gift they won’t get themselves and you see the joy on their faces when they finally get it? 

I have had to rethink how I can still give & receive gifts while not adding clutter to my home, or the homes of my loved ones.

Helpful hints for avoiding the clutter

  • No Birthday Gifts This Year and What We're Doing InsteadBirthdays
    • For my husband, we like to give each other experiences. This can be date nights, getting a hotel, etc.
    • For the kids, we are going to start the four gifts rule (a gift they want, a gift they need, one to wear, and one to read). 
  • Birthday Parties:
    • Ask for donations to a local charity. I am going to present three different local organizations that my daughter can choose from, and that will be the organization that we will ask for donations, instead of gifts. This gives my daughter control by picking the organization and guests can fulfill that gift-giving need. (I’m thinking an orphanage, animal shelter, etc.)
      • If you get invited to a birthday party and the invitation asks for no gifts, they may truly not want any gifts. I never knew what do to in this situation. Are they serious.. no gift at all? Do I still bring a gift? What if everyone else brings a gift and I’m the only one who doesn’t? Does this sound familiar to you? We live in a society where we feel obligated to bring a gift to a party, but if the host requests no gift, I think it is totally fine to not bring a gift. Why add stress to your life? Go with the flow of the invitation and enjoy yourself! 
  • Gifts from family members:
    • This can be a hard one, but I ask for things that the kids truly need. Money towards college, daycare, ballet, soccer, or any other activities that they are in. 
    • You can always make a list online of items that your family members can choose from. Then, they get to make the decision of which gift to give. 
    • Experiences are such a wonderful gift, and I believe they provide much longer lasting memories than a toy. You could start a tradition like a holiday show, how special is that
    • Charleston has amazing children-friendly events and organizations that you can join.  We also have a variety of ballets, plays, and other shows that kids of all ages can enjoy. 
    • 1 in, 1 out rule: This simply means that for every gift coming in, one has to go out. We haven’t really had an opportunity to exercise this rule yet, but with my daughter’s birthday coming up, we will get our chance. This is not to be mean, but it is a way for your children to only keep the things that they actually play with, rather than making piles of unused stuff (AKA clutter). Explain that the toys will be going to children who do not have as much. This has helped my daughter be able to let go of toys much easier. 
    • Vacations! Maybe this year, you will celebrate with a vacation! You can have so much fun with this. The entire family can plan activities, countdown together, etc. This is another way to make a great memory without adding the clutter to your house. 

There you have it folks! Giving and receiving gifts can be such a fun and exciting experience. It should be something we look forward to, not dread. I hope that this list has helped you with some creative ideas to celebrate with your loved ones, without adding the stress of stuff!  

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