For me one of the biggest challenges around the holidays is how to come away from it without feeling like I need to take a shower and then take a garbage bag to the house to collect all the unnecessary excess of stuff that's been brought into my household by well-meaning family and friends. I'm going to make a short list (I think I might be a compulsive list maker, sorry!) of things that I get way too much of and then a short list of things I like to get (if I have to get anything from people) if people really have to buy me things.
Things I get too much of and really hate:
1. Bath stuff... if I had a nickel for every "luxury" bath item that went to the landfill and/or to Goodwill, I'd be much, much richer than I am now. I swear I have to go through bath stuff way too often for a minimalist, but it seems like people who don't know what to get me, get me bath stuff. Do I stink? What gives? It's just an easy thing when people feel obligated to give, and even though I say "no, please don't", so many people don't actually mean what they say when they say that, so my pleas are ignored in favor of bath stuff.... or candles.
2. Candles... same as before. It's nice to have a few in case of emergencies, but really? I literally just got rid of twenty candles from last year... donated on Freecycle.
3. Useless knicknacks. These are the worst. They are the kind of gift that says, "I really like you and I want to be better friends, so I am giving you a gift (that is something I hope you will like, but since we don't know each other very well just yet is generic enough to be good for almost anyone) in the hope that you reciprocate my friendship with a gift." Ugh. Yes, I like you too... but can we please just skip all that and go out for drinks or lunch and actually get to know each other better instead of buying into the consumerism of the holidays just for the sake of it? Pleeeeeze? Pretty please?
Things I would love if people really have to get me something:
1. Time. A meal or a coffee or just hanging out with friends or family would be an awesome gift. I'm not on Facebook and have no desire to be, but as a result I feel less connected (as an aside, I have a "not on Facebook tribe" here too because FB makes me feel so falsely connected anyway), so it would be nice to actually spend some real Face Time, instead of Facebook time. You know?
2. Food gifts. Although I am sort of picky about my food more and more these days, a thoughtful... I remembered that you really like pears, so I ordered some fancy ones from Harry & David, or I know you love my grandmother's pumpkin pie and while I can't divulge the secret family recipe you keep asking for, I've brought you a pie. (But please don't bring me another one of that horrid casserole that you brought me when I was pregnant, and I said I liked because I was being polite). That's a tough one.
3. Experiential gifts. Spa days, tickets or gift certificates for things to do (especially with the giver as an activity partner) would be nice too.
How about you ladies? Some families are very opposed to "directing" gift givers and feel that it's very rude and that you should just accept a gift as given and be grateful. Period.
This year, I am getting the picture that while I am not going to get any gifts (I've finally gotten through to them), that my new two month old son will be receiving a bajillion little things that I will have to put in my suitcase and likely pay to check an extra bag to bring home on the flight. Bleh...