say no, refuse

I love giving presentations to groups and learning about their organizing “pain points”. One frustration that keeps coming up is receiving gifts that you don’t want to keep. Oh the awkwardness! What to do with the rainbow afghan lovingly made by an elder relative, the larger than life teddy bear given to your newborn, the wedding gifts chosen so carefully but not from the registry, that gentle attempt at steering people towards the wholly practical yet less personal gift?

How about a pro-active approach with these perhaps radical, if not outrageous, yet effective ideas:

Instead of a registry, what if newly-weds created a gift un-registry with criteria helping friends know what they don’t like. Blue for example, or glasses over 5″ tall. Plastic. Serving platters wider than 16″.

How about parents establishing a “parcel check” at the front door of their kids birthday party. Rather than “thank you, I’ll put the gift over here”, rather a “please place your parcel in this basket”, something like at an airline check in for carry on bags, and a “sorry if it doesn’t fit in this container, it will not be allowed on board”.

For folks that have moved or newly renovated? What about suggesting house-warming gifts with dimensions smaller than 10″x 10″x 8″.  Or better yet, suggesting a donation in their name. Now you’re talking.

It is often suggested to gift experiences rather than things. I like the idea, but in reality calendars are just as over-committed as our cupboards. Memberships go unused and theatre seasons end before gift certificates are cashed in.  Perhaps we need to simply celebrate being together in the moment without the need to gift.

Does this seem ungrateful, even heartless, extremely pragmatic? With almost every client I witness the struggle to store items or make time for things out of a sense of obligation. Perhaps that’s one more thing to let go of.

Related Posts