Why This Momma Has Stopped Giving Gifts (Almost)

I’m done giving gifts. Well, kind of. I should clarify, I’m done giving stuff as gifts.

This new strategy started with my Mom and Dad. I love my parents more than anything. But, there are things about them that make me crazy (and I’m sure that one works both ways!) One of those things? Their tendency to keep anything and everything under the sun. I love, love, love that they recycle, that they reuse, but there are things that just aren’t recyclable! And they have tons of it…

Which makes gift giving very difficult. And I’m a gift giver. My love language? Gifts. I love finding that one thing thing that brings sheer joy to the face of the recipient. But with my mom and dad, I just can’t do it anymore.

Which is why my sister suggested, and we instituted, the “No Crap Initiative.” The idea? Give them a gift, but it can’t be something that adds to the amount of stuff in their house. So, a massage? Great! Gift card to a nice restaurant? Good one. Tickets to join the grand kids at the Harlem Globetrotters? Nailed it!

The result? Happy parents but even better, we’re racking up experiences with them.

You’ve probably seen articles recently about the power of experiences over material goods. How creating those memories trumps all of that stuff. How experiencing life is the best gift you can give.

I absolutely love it!

When I think back to my childhood there are very few, if any, gifts I remember. But I can tell you, I remember my kite flying birthday party; I remember the family Santa Claus parties; and I remember the surprise party for my 13th birthday!

Speaking of Christmas, we’ve stopped giving our friends gifts at the holiday. Instead? We host our annual Christmas party. Talk about memories! 

But I draw the line with the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love creating memories with them – just ask them about zip lining in Costa Rica, sleeping in the hanging tent, going to the Broncos games, or the heart-stopping, floor-dropping water “slide” at Water Country USA.

But the reality is they still want stuff – and I’m going to give it to them.

I know, I know, it sounds hypocritical, maybe it is, but I’m drawing a line.

I know those gifts won’t simplify our lives, and they may not be remembered next year, but have you ever watched a kid rip into a present? The sheer joy is amazing and that little bit of short term happiness is worth it to me.

After all, rules are meant to be broken, right?

But that’s an exception, not a rule. My new rule? Whenever I can, I’m going to find a way to create and give an experience as a gift. Because the one thing you can never have too many of is memories. And  the thing about memories, they don’t take up space, they last a lifetime and they provide that little dose of happiness over and over and over again.

And that sounds like the ideal gift to me.


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9 Responses

  1. Kris says:

    I love this concept!! I am going to join your moratorium on gift giving and try to focus on experiences. I think this summer was a great start with our amazing trip to the Blue and all the amazing experiences along the way. I would add to your resolution that pictures must be taken, shared and published! I would also add that sharing those experiences with friends and loved is a must…. lots of loved ones if possible!! New Half Year Resolution

  2. Kellie says:

    I’ve been thinking about this for a while. There’s a lot going on. On the one hand, I want to move away from the stuff and material goods. On the other hand, you’re absolutely right–kids want physical gifts. And I think they need them, too, in a sense, because they are much more immediate and don’t understand waiting for something like an experience.
    I think focusing on experiences will get easier as they get older.

    I say that, but receiving gifts is one of my love languages, so I still love a physical gift!

  3. Cindy says:

    What a great idea! I would love to have less stuff, and often I receive gifts that are given in love, but are not something I really want or will use. But I always end up keeping these gifts because I feel guilty! An experience gift would be so great. Thanks!

  4. Debrah McCabe says:

    Terrific idea! So much better to give experiences than stuff! That stuff will just end up on a yard sale table one day! But those memories are forever.

  5. This is a super approach – you’re right, memories will last forever, the “things” we give our families not so much. It’s sometimes possible to still do this with kids, though. We go on a family vacation to see faraway family instead of throwing our kids expensive birthday parties (and explain to them that we’re choosing to spend that money on their plane ticket instead), and one of my daughter’s classmates went on a family trip to Disney for a solid week last December in lieu of traditional Christmas gifts – the kids were all THRILLED with the idea.

  6. Ashley says:

    Memories are priceless, I’ve been a “memory” giver for a while due to always being broke as a joke so everything has to come from the heart LOL. It`s more meaningful this way, and also tends to not make people seem like a show off when they buy an expensive gift while someone else gives them just a card or something.

  7. Heather says:

    Yes, yes, yes! I remember very few “stuff” presents from my childhood, but I remember every single experience gift. My MIL just payed for our family’s hotel rooms at the beach as my husband’s and my birthday gifts for the year and it was GREAT. So much better than anything she could have bought for us.

  8. This is a beautiful post and is so spot one I am in awe! Great job and thank you for sharing!

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