Posted by: Ellen Hankes | January 16, 2011

Is It a Gift….Or Clutter?

  • Gifts–sweet tokens of love or a space-taking burden? We love to give something to others to demonstrate how much we care for them. It is fun to give a gift…and receive a gift.

Did you know gift giving can lead to clutter for some people? Consumer goods can have a short life. While useful at first, a gift may no longer work, fit or make sense. A decorative candle, once burned, doesn’t look so pretty any more. The shirt wears out. Warm thoughts of the gift-giver may keep a person from getting rid of the used candle or worn shirt.

Passing on furniture, toys and other items may be a burden on the recipient. A young couple I recently worked with shared how difficult it was to tell older family members that they didn’t want hand-me-downs. While they truly appreciated the generosity and thoughtfulness, there was simply not room in their small home for more stuff.

Remember, gift-giving involves a Transfer of Ownership. When you give Joe a book, it becomes his book. He is free to read the book or not read the book. He may keep it for years or he may donate it to a Ronald McDonald House. Likewise, when you receive a gift from Sophia, you may choose to do what you want with the gift. You also may refuse a gift. When your cousin thinks you need her collection of 100 margarine tubs complete with lids, you can say, “I appreciate your thinking of me, but I have no room for them.”

If clutter is a problem for you, focus this year on gifts of experience and togetherness, rather than gifts of stuff. For example, consumable items such as food, postage stamps or movie tickets are sure to be appreciated and won’t compound the clutter.


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