Christmas time can be a challenge for minimalists like myself. I’ve never been big on getting a bunch of material things – less stuff is better as far as I’m concerned – so when family and friends start asking me what I’d like for Christmas I struggle coming up with ideas for them. This Christmas is even more of a challenge because people are not only asking me what myself and my husband want for Christmas, but they also want to know what my 1-1/2-year-old son would like. (Frankly, just wrap up a plastic kitchen cup or Tupperware container and he will be entertained for hours!)
Our family doesn’t really “need” anything since we have already been given so much from many wonderful people in our lives consisting of true necessities for the baby, toys, and so much more. Many of the items we have gotten have been hand-me-downs but we don’t care. This isn’t to say that there aren’t things that I need or want – like the new iPhone for instance, which I want very badly – but the things I find that make me the happiest are usually not material things but rather experiences or trips.
I’m a firm believer of reusing items. There is so much out there already; why buy new when you can pass on a perfectly good used item that is sitting idle in your own house. I told my in-laws to not feel bad at all about wrapping up my niece’s old magnetic doodle board and alphabet magnets that she no longer uses and give them to my son as Christmas presents. Seriously, why not? They’d save money; they’d help the environment by recycling; and my son would love them. It’s a win, win, win as far as I’m concerned.
I encourage others to not be ashamed to do the same if you also have items in your house that you think other people might get usage out of. It will help you get rid of things you no longer need and save you money in a tough economy. I’ve devised a list of courtesies to abide by if you do take my advise and choose to pass on items to others this holiday season:
- Don’t try to pass your gift off as being new if it was ever used before – that makes you look cheap, and it’s tacky. Tell them it’s a gift that is being passed on from you with love. (One exception to this is if the gift is a regift that was never even taken out of the box and is indeed new.)
- Clean up the item thoroughly before giving it to someone else. Nobody appreciates getting a dirty gift – plus it’s unsanitary.
- If the gift is a toy or an electronic item make sure it works. If it’s broken don’t give it as a gift; recycle it when possible or throw it in the trash instead.
- Present it nicely. One thing I learned in art school is that presentation is everything. If giving as a gift, wrap it in a nice box or bag with tissue around it and a pretty ribbon and it’s every bit as fun and special as a brand new gift.
Don’t let someone make you feel bad about giving someone something used that you think they might have a use for. Remember, your intention is a good one – there is absolutely no shame in that.