Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Day 29, No More STUFF!!!! (93...Free!)

The other day, a good friend and I were talking about "stuff." You know, the unwanted items you receive...for birthdays, for shower party favors, for Christmas; everywhere we go, we are handed more stuff. It fills our cabinets, our kids' rooms, our garages, our junk drawers. Today I made a quick stop at a local store and was overwhelmed by the amount of stuff that retailers are thrusting at us, begging us to buy in early November...with CHRISTMAS MUSIC in the background to put us in the mood for holiday buying.

In our family, we're trying to minimize "holiday gift stuff" by setting a $20 limit per person. That really helps. But even with a $20 limit, it's still sometimes hard to know what to give people who really have everything they need.

A few years ago, I turned to the idea of consumables. If I give/receive gifts that can be consumed, we end up with a lot less stuff...and with some pretty fun/creative gifts. Here are a few examples:

1. For one exchange I bought a sheet of cartoon stamps which ended up being one of the most popular items...it was "stolen" several times during the exchange game. Everyone can use stamps and there are a lot of fun ones out there.

2. Kid stocking stuffers
  • character bandaids
  • TicTacs
  • gum
  • TAPE (yes, scotch tape! My young kids LOVED tape and wanted to use it all the time. When they received their own, they could use it whenever they wanted.)
  • art supplies-paper, pens, glitter glue
3. Other "big kid" gifts:
  • Pringles potato chips
  • Other special chips or treats--my husband got SunChips one year and everyone was jealous. I've also bought kids their own boxes of sugar cereal or packs of character "fruit" gummies.
  • Sparkling Cider or other sparkling juices
  • Starbucks bottled drinks (teen gift)
  • scrapbooking supplies
  • camera film
  • stamps (Star Wars and other characters)
  • special hot drink mix (my kids love Russian tea)
  • decadent chocolate
  • lotions
  • bubble bath
As you might imagine, the items I listed are NOT purchased in our household any other time during the year; it wouldn't have nearly the same effect if these items were part of our daily life. But since my kids are "deprived" :) the rest of the year, this stuff is pretty interesting to them.

If you have other ideas, I'd love to add to my lists. :)


Jennifer said...

Hey, it's not really a gift idea, but a stocking system we tried out last year and found fun....our family members each had a 5 dollar limit/person and a category. Gift cards, drinks, magazines, books, stationary items, toothbrushes, etc. So we found one of each of these categories in our stockings.....it was fun. The magazines got passed around, the books were excellent goodwill finds, the itunes gift cards were enjoyed, and the drinks...it was a good time and we plan to repeat it.

One year we changed up our traditional Christmas too much work to prepare breakfast......instead each family member bought a box of cereal (cold or hot) and wrapped it. We took turns opening them and guessing who brought what. Then we served up a wonderfully simple breakfast. In some cases we enjoyed things we never ever would have tried otherwise. And some cold cereals became favorites for years to come. A couple years later we're totally good with a pot of oatmeal on Christmas morning. Fun stuff. Thanks for writing on this topic.

richmomma said...

Awesome ideas, Jennifer! Thanks!!!

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