It is so hard to be gracious about holiday gifts when trying to banish clutter! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 116 Old 12-19-2006, 07:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This holiday season happens to be the first when I'm really conscious of deliberately choosing what "stuff" we keep...of how much decluttering I've done (and how much I have left to go)...of how I really don't want to acquire anything that isn't needed or "exactly right"...

...and then I feel like a twit because someone I love dearly just told me they're sending me a gift, and I'm afraid it might be one of those things I just can't justify keeping around. And the giver is the kind of person who is so sweet and loving, and worries terribly about whether gifts she chooses for other people will be wanted.

I *am* grateful for her love, and her thoughtfulness, and maybe it will really be something I will love and cherish, but the odds seem to be against that.

Argh. : I was hoping someone here would understand.

I'm trying so hard not to bring excess stuff into my life, and I feel kind of "lucky" in a sense that nearly everyone who gives gifts to us at Christmas either "gets" it or is so distant/inactive in our lives that their gifts can be enjoyed temporarily and then given to someone else to enjoy (if they don't fit into our life/space). But that isn't always the case.

Why can't we all just radically redefine how the holiday season is celebrated,. starting right this minute?

I'm trying to talk myself into being thrilled when this person's gift arrives. Maybe I will love it; for her sake, I sincerely hope I will! Because I'm going to feel really guilty doing anything but keeping it. I hope I don't sound callous because I really don't mean to be that way.

Please tell me you understand....

Amanda, mom to Everest (12), Alden (10-1/2), Ellery (7-1/2), & Avery (6)
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#2 of 116 Old 12-19-2006, 07:16 PM
 
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Yeah I feel this way sometimes. I guess I tend to enjoy it for awhile then take it away for other to enjoy. DH and I were talking about this last night b/c MIL always gets us tons of stuff. I am so grateful for the stuff and most of the time she'll get us things that we ask for and really need but sometimes it does feel like she gets us things just to be getting us something. For example every year in our stockings we get body wash, body poof things, and chocolate. Every year we give this stuff to goodwill.

Someone said here once that once the gift is in my house I can do with it what I want. I try to remember that when I want to get rid of something given to me and the guilt sets in. I'll use what I can but if the gift brings you stress then the gift giver probably wouldn't want that either. Maybe before next Christmas you have a deal with your close friends that you don't exchange gifts. We only get gifts from our parents but all our friends know we don't need anything and we know they don't need anything.

Anyhow you're not alone, enjoy that they thought of you, send a thank you card and if it's not something you can use get rid of it and don't let it weigh you down.

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#3 of 116 Old 12-19-2006, 07:34 PM
 
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I often feel a lot of guilt over gifts. And not just because of decluttering, I hate getting gifts I don't like - not because I'm greedy but because I feel so guilty that I don't like it and I feel so bad that the person wasted their money and I am a sincere person, which means it feels very weird for me to pretend to like something I don't. I'd rather get nothing at all than something I don't like, I just feel so bad about it.

My mother used to be the worst, I'm her only daughter and she would buy me all sorts of clothes. But I'm a tomboy and I'm the type that can pick 20 shirts I think I like off the shelves and not like a single one on me. So I just felt awful everytime she bought me clothes, or I made her feel bad by telling her I don't like it or not telling her but not wearing it, etc. She's gotten it now, she no longer buys me clothes.

I have found in past years I also have found that even things I put on my wishlist after I got them I really didn't use them or whatnot. So I thought really hard before I put anything on my wishlist about whether it would fulfill my life, whether it was useful, etc. As a result I have a lot of 'useful' items on my list, like trash cans and sweepers and stuff, so I don't know whether folks will abandon the list alltogether just because it isn't fun enough.

The things I get from close family usually are just fine, its peripheral friends who give us stuff we just end up throwing in the 'get rid of box' but then they never know either, so oh well!

Mightymoo - Mom to DD (6) and DS (4)
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#4 of 116 Old 12-19-2006, 07:56 PM
 
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...Someone said here once that once the gift is in my house I can do with it what I want. I try to remember that when I want to get rid of something given to me and the guilt sets in.

DH and I are completely mercenary about this with NO GUILT. You have to put your well being above everything, especially when it comes to your home. Now if I see I can't use it I try and find a home for it immediately. I don't feel bad, I just feel like "well, someone will surely be happy to get this". I just received something, that as I was taking it out of it's gift bag I thought "and this will be immediately regifted or sent on it's way". No guilt. I just totally give myself a free pass on the guilt in situations like this. A complete pardon!!
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#5 of 116 Old 12-19-2006, 09:34 PM
 
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Even in light of moving in the new year, some things (especially gifts from mom) are so hard to know what to do with... my mom loves to give me all kinds of breakable "hostess" kinds of gifts, never asks what I could actually use.... so last year she gives me this long, breakable tray with snow men on it, cute but ... uh.... I sure don't need it. I don't really have a place for it.... yet I know she will ask aobut it so I will have to make sure to use it at Christmas.... Other then my mom tho I am ruthless.... I consign or donalte a lot...

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#6 of 116 Old 12-19-2006, 11:21 PM
 
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I am so with you guys! But I can't get over the guilt either. I usually end up just putting whatever it is in the attic! DH gets mad at me if I give it away or take it back, he thinks its disrespectful.

Mama to (DS 7) and (DD 5), wife to DH

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#7 of 116 Old 12-19-2006, 11:51 PM
 
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I was just hoping today I wouldn't get much for Christmas. I would much rather have knitting yarn and book certificates. I can make the yarn into useful items and once I'm done with the books I send them to our small public library. My MIL gave me an early bday present (mine bd is Dec 24) and it was this organizer basket holder. I loved it because it now holds all my potatoes, onions, bread, apples, etc. SO actually that was a positive addition.
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#8 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 01:56 AM
 
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So I thought really hard before I put anything on my wishlist about whether it would fulfill my life, whether it was useful, etc. As a result I have a lot of 'useful' items on my list, like trash cans and sweepers and stuff, so I don't know whether folks will abandon the list alltogether just because it isn't fun enough.

Yup! Both of my parents and my brother told me that they didn't like my list because they wanted to buy me something "special" that was just for me (not a household item). But they are not getting the point that all that "me" stuff just clutters up my house! I want a Swiffer WetJet and some kitchen towels -- THAT would be a great Christmas for me!
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#9 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 02:27 AM
 
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I want a Swiffer WetJet and some kitchen towels -- THAT would be a great Christmas for me!
MIL always wants to buy me clothes. I don't need any clothes I already have way too many clothes. Plus I haven't really evened out from my pregnancy so I'm kinda off on sizes right now (will this mushy belly every go away???). DH told her at least four times not to get me clothes. I got two nightgowns (frumpy ones too) and two sweatshirts.

Vixenmama-- You made me blush :

Lori, mom to Elise 6/06, Ivy 4/08 and pos.gif 12/11
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#10 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 12:50 PM
 
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I'm pretty good about decluttering...actually, ruthless at times. Even with gifts (especially those stuffed singing things that MIL sends DD for every holiday). However, I carry this incredible (to me...who barely ever feels this way) guilt about my gift from MIL/FIL last year. They got me a beautiful, purple (my fav color), especially made for me, etched glass salad bowl. Its absolutely gorgeous. But I already have a wood salad bowl that I love. And I'm afraid of breaking this one. Secretly, I wish that the cats would knock it over.
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#11 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 01:00 PM
 
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Maybe we should brainstorm a list of responses for where something is when someone later says 'What happened to the X I gave you?' (If you don't mind a little fib to save hurt feelings of course)

"Oh, I had it out DS/DD bumped it and smashed it"
"I didn't realize it wasn't dishwasher safe"
"DH/I meant well, but he/I just doesn't know how to do laundry, he shrunk it / washed it with a red shirt / forgot it should have been dry cleaned."
"The cat/dog/parakeet got to it while we were out"
and of course if it was a cheap item, you could just say 'Oh, it was too bad it looked so good but it broke the first time I tried to use it!'
'I lent it to a friend'


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#12 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 04:00 PM
 
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amyamanda-

I understand completely. Gifts are tough. I think our culture is really screwed up on this point. (Ever seen Peter Walsh on "Clean Sweep"? "This is not your mum...This is not your love for your mum...This is not your mum's love for you...Out it goes!")

I had so many knicknacks that people had gotten me...it never even occured to me until I was 25 years old that I don't LIKE knicknacks. Even now, I look around my house, and even after a three year purge, virtually everything I don't like or have no use for I received as a gift.

I think that we should re-think the holidays, too. My dream Christmas would be to take a trip somewhere. What we DON'T need is more junk. What we DO need is more time together.

Spending more on something that you are buying as a gift is known in economic terms as a "deadweight loss". I find this term to be both insightful and depressing.

A great aunt of mine used to give the boys a year's supply of razor blades for Christmas. I think this is a spectacular idea.

I think I'm going to start giving a year's supply of laundry detergent (that is, a 5 gallon pail full of powder) or a year's supply of aluminum foil (one of those giant boxes from a restaurant supply store) as gifts.

Is this tacky or useful?

Or am I just blinded like everyone else, thinking that what I would like is a good gift for everyone?

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#13 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 04:34 PM
 
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amyamanda-... we DON'T need is more junk. What we DO need is more time together....I think I'm going to start giving a year's supply of laundry detergent (that is, a 5 gallon pail full of powder) or a year's supply of aluminum foil (one of those giant boxes from a restaurant supply store) as gifts.

Is this tacky or useful?
I would LOVE laundry detergent, right now what I really want is a really nice ironing board from Target.

I drew the line last year on "neighbor gifts" and decided I would prepare a nice meal for my favorite neighbors after the holiday, sort of like a "new year" gift.


Our family's gift giving needs an overhaul. We've tried to spearhead this many times but we've never come up with a solution.


I just came back from Sears (for vacuum bags) and Marshall's (unnecessary stop) and boy oh boy, is it wicked out there. Especially the cashiers. Oy oi oi.
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#14 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 04:59 PM
 
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Vixenmama, Leta-- I couldn't agree more.

We agreed to not exchange gifts with Dh's family this year, except for buying for the kids.

I fully expect ds will get some junky cheap plastic toys and we will let him play with them for a few weeks and then they will go bless someone else . . .

Not sure how to broach the subject with my mom's family, am still thinking about that one. My younger siblings often make us homemade gifts which is the sweetest thing, but sometimes I get things that just do not bless my life.

As for gifts for other adults we know, we tried to give people fun food items so that we wouldn't be giving more "stuff", and we only gifted to immediate family.

I'd love it if the whole gift-giving part of the holidays went back to being just one SMALL gift for each immediate family member. That would be so great . . . I definitely feel like an anomaly in this material world.

♥ blogger astrologer mom to three cool kiddos, and trying to figure out this divorce thing-- Blossom and Glow ♥

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#15 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 05:19 PM
 
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I felt that way when MIL and FIL were here, they don't get it exactly. I tell them what is acceptable and they'll get some of that, then other stuff. Sigh. Interesting enough, in the past we've gotten them non-cluttering things, but this year I gave them stuff actually. So, oh well...they sort of got it back in a way. I regifted stuff to them : , it was nice stuff though!

DH's aunt also included gifts for the kids and hers were all junk toys (except for two crayon sets, which they are using). Oh well, one of the toys has already been broken!

HUGS

Christy

Perpetually breastfeeding or pregnant ENFP mom to a lot of kids...wife to a midwestern nice guy...living in tropical paradise...pink cats and homebirths rock!

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#16 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 05:27 PM
 
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Yeah, as far as spearheading gift giving changes...

DH have promised each other that we are not buying gifts for ANY adults anymore, and that we are only giving homemade stuff. DH is a chef, so this works pretty well for us.

This year, we've been giving people a big loaf of homemade bread with a pint of homemade jam, and it's been going over well. Last year we did salsa and pickles.

It's hard for kids, too, though...

I won't go into the material frenzy that colored my Christmases as a child, but I hate what this season does for children. Most kids I know, my own absolutely included, have WAY TOO MUCH. I view this as a big problem. True happiness lies between not enough and too much, and I feel like all the kid oriented gift giving does is sow the seeds for future materialism, hoarding problems, and lives filled with clutter.

Thanks so much for the feedback on useful gifts! I will forge on, unafraid! (I mean, EVERYONE needs laundry soap, right?) And if people think I'm tacky, screw 'em! I think plastic yard reindeer are tacky, and everyone has those, so it all evens out, right?

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#17 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 06:36 PM
 
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...but sometimes I get things that just do not bless my life....
This is hilarious. Very nicely expressed.

We do full-on gifting with Dh's family, which means we buy for 3 adults...and of course, sil isn't married and she ends up buying for 3 adults and 2 kids on a very limited income, so we buy her a lot of gifts to make up and oh jeez, it's a drama and a headache....dh (who refuses to do any pre-meditated shopping) drew the line at 1 giftcard for her (??? much better than stuff in my book and minimal shopping). I'm starting to rage. I'm going to TOA to do a pre-holiday rant.....see ya later.
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#18 of 116 Old 12-20-2006, 07:55 PM
 
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I often feel a lot of guilt over gifts. And not just because of decluttering, I hate getting gifts I don't like - not because I'm greedy but because I feel so guilty that I don't like it and I feel so bad that the person wasted their money and I am a sincere person, which means it feels very weird for me to pretend to like something I don't. I'd rather get nothing at all than something I don't like, I just feel so bad about it.
That's pretty much how I feel. Also, money is so tight right now that I wish people would just get me a gc to a grocery store. It's so hard for me to feel grateful for charity given in my name or $2 worth of beans (soup mix) that cost $10 to ship. It just makes me feel bad.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#19 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 05:48 AM
 
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As a result I have a lot of 'useful' items on my list, like trash cans and sweepers and stuff, so I don't know whether folks will abandon the list alltogether just because it isn't fun enough.

The things I get from close family usually are just fine, its peripheral friends who give us stuff we just end up throwing in the 'get rid of box' but then they never know either, so oh well!
I have ALWAYS been the useful gift person. I gave my mom can openers and Pyrex dishes over the years for Christmas gifts. This year I gave her some "read from the top view" measuring cups that she wanted. Useful stuff that shouldn't end up as "clutter."
Ah yesh, all my mom's friends who came out of the woodwork to give us wedding gifts some that I am giving to goodwill soon. Oh well.
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#20 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 10:52 AM
 
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As I read this thread, there is about 5-10 assortments of goody gifts dh and I have received in the last week or so. I am a Sunday school teacher and he is a pt who sees patients. I have 4 candles I will not burn- have 2 small kids and they are full of scents and God knows what that will put in the air,2 packages of flavored coffee, two mugs, I could go on and on.

I could re gift them tomorrow at a party so they are no on someone else's counter for them to take care of or just toss them. I try to remember when we are getting something that is useless and we toss it, goodwill it, regift whatever- I am not regifting the giver or throwing out the givier.

Its sort of like that fruit cake that Johnny Carson used to say is circulating the globe for years- Someone takes it to a party and the receiver takes it somewhere else....IF you dont know who Johnny Carson is or dont remember him-- I am REALLY Dating myself!!

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#21 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 12:04 PM
 
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I just got the gifts from my inlaws last night for the girls. And since I could tell by the packaging it wasn't anywhere near what I had told them was on the acceptable list, i peaked. Yes, and I am ashamed to say that both of the girls saw me But the first thing which wasn't wrapped was two toy lanterns that have candy attached and the first thing that my oldest said was "We can't eat that candy can we?" We feingold, they, inlaws, know this, and no they can't eat the candy: And then it looks like they both got hats and scarfs. That would be fine, I know it says I am in the bitter cold, but that is just compared to what I am used to. My girls have adjusted to our weather, i just haven't They don't wear hats and scarfs, they are wearing a light jacket and that is all. AND I bought them two pairs of hats and scarfs, one inside and one for the car when we got here. THEY HAVE NO NEED for more!!!! And I mentioned something to them, a really cute sweet purse that folds out with a fairy. http://www.motherhues.com/id73.htm that. I wanted something they could bring to my midwife apt and I have braces and they come to those apts with me also. Well, they got my older dd a art desk thingie, which again would be fine if she didn't already have a full desk, they have seen this desk, and the got my youngest a magnetic alphabet/numbers desk thingie. I really think they were trying to get something that they could bring, but the thing with the purse small, lightweight, not many pieces, and THEY carry it. There is no way they could carry either of these things. And we are trying to get rid of all plastic cheap toys. The magnetic thing says 99 pieces!!! I am sorry, but how does anyone think that 99 pieces is a good thing? I am sure it probably says something on there about not for under 3, my dd is 2, and we are having a baby. You don't get choking hazards for kids with babies coming. If they ask me, or tell me that they got those to take to the apts, i am flat out saying that they are too big and too heavy for the girls to carry. It is a rule that they can bring what they want as long as they can carry it. I am not changing it because of these gifts. Sorry, i am very angry and I couldn't vent to my dh last night, he had to work, so ya'll get it Sorry again. I just don't understand why they couldn't see the list and say, oh, they want this this and this and just get it. My husband actually just told his mom, like a month ago, that I was decluttering and had taken like 4 boxes to goodwill and 2 bags of garbage out. And that it included a lot of the girls toys that they don't play with. I don't understand people, I really don't.
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#22 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 01:31 PM
 
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VnJW - My mom is awful about getting more of what my DD already has too. She has decided to get her another doll for christmas - my daughter has a bunch of various sizes, but mom's philosophy is she loves those so why not another just like them! I talked her into at least getting another bitty baby (a twin with hair, she has a regular one) rather than the other random doll, so at least DD's doll clothes and all the accessories she bought her before would fit on both.

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#23 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 04:18 PM
 
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I feel for you Amy. While I enjoy giving gifts and receiving them, I am also in a declutter phase in my life. Can you just keep the item for a while and get rid if it later? I also hate when people spend hard earned money on things that I just can't use. I feel bad,but I know there's someone out there that can use it and find solace in that.
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#24 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 04:29 PM
 
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OMG we are going through this now. I am spending so much time & effort banishing crap from the house, trying to get a little feng shui balance, & people won't take the hints about consumables, or services.

Karate lessons! zoo passes! movie tickets! ANYthing but more stuffed animals & plastic crap I have to toss or donate! The fil just got the kids a train set- their FOURTH crappy plastic train set- the other three are in bins in the attic. (All of it together might've afforded one good wooden one .)

Can we list some classic stuff?

A purselamp. (Is it a purse that looks like a lamp, or a lamp that looks like a purse?)

A hot cocoa maker; a big appliance just for making foamy hot cocoa from a mix!

Please, add in hopes we can smile graciously without screaming.
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#25 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 04:35 PM
 
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I just came back from Sears (for vacuum bags) and Marshall's (unnecessary stop) and boy oh boy, is it wicked out there. Especially the cashiers. Oy oi oi.
I hear you. You hear a lot from customer service folks about rude customers this time of year, but my God, I had some prizes behind the register last night. I BEG your pardon for troubling you AT YOUR JOB, sir. Don't take it out on me.
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#26 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 04:40 PM
 
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MIL always wants to buy me clothes. I don't need any clothes I already have way too many clothes. Plus I haven't really evened out from my pregnancy so I'm kinda off on sizes right now (will this mushy belly every go away???). DH told her at least four times not to get me clothes. I got two nightgowns (frumpy ones too) and two sweatshirts.
Yeah, stepdm ALWAYS gets me frumpy old lady clothes I hate. Funny how it's always for stores that aren't nearby to prevent exchange. Years of, "Oh, I'm hard to fit" hints just haven't taken.

This thread has me on a roll (I had to look all over for gift card stuff last night, & even the GIFT CARDS are always for places like The Disney Store or Kaybees.)
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#27 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 04:56 PM
 
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Originally Posted by chanibell View Post
I feel for you Amy. While I enjoy giving gifts and receiving them, I am also in a declutter phase in my life. Can you just keep the item for a while and get rid if it later? I also hate when people spend hard earned money on things that I just can't use. I feel bad,but I know there's someone out there that can use it and find solace in that.
See thats my issue- do I keep them for a while and get rid of later but how later?? When I first decluttered several years ago, 90% of what went out the door was given to us some way. Which leads me to believe, how much stuff did I spend my hard earned money on to be stuffed somewhere or held on to for a while?
I have the same feeling, I hate people spending money on stuff that is wasted- its basically like taking money and throwing it in the garbage so I opt out as much as possible in the gift exchange.

So, who would use the 4 scented candles and the 2 winter mugs??
DH put the coffee and cocoa at work.

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#28 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 06:25 PM
 
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Oh, man, I feel all you guys about this.

An example: Last year when we moved up here, we bought DS a new bed. The ILs knew this, because the headboard was FIL's when he was a lad, and we got it out of their barn. The headboard (and new mattress and box spring) are a a full. With me?

Well, when the ILs came up for Xmas last year, they, of course, brought tons of stuff for DS, including bedding for his new bed. It was all SpongeBob. The comforter was a full size, but the sheets were twin.

When I pointed this out to MIL (I tried to be tactful- I wanted to know where she got them so I could exchange them for the right size) she said, "Yeah, I know, but they didn't have SpongeBob sheets in full."

So could you maybe have gotten him blue sheets instead!?! He only had one set of sheets at the time, so an extra (useable) set would have been nice.

We do not have a twin bed anywhere in our house. At all. They know this.

When ILs were leaving, DH said to his mom, "Maybe you should take these home and we can use them on Dane's bed at the cabin."

MIL looked at DH funny and said, "But I got those for Dane."
Can you please explain to me how sheets that you cannot use are gift?

So guess what's on eBay right now? SpongeBob sheets. NIP!

Trying to turn hearts and minds toward universal healthcare, one post at a time.
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#29 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 08:28 PM
 
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The frumpy clothes reminds me of when I was about 39 weeks pregnt with dd1 (never made it that long w dd2). It was around mothers day and my MIL handed me a plastic bag. I always repeat always get nervous when she is holding one of those plastic bags from the grocery store and saying- I have something for you.....

It was this humungous ugly t shirt with a illustration saying M O M in the iron on. I looked at her like WTF?? She said- its perfect to wear home from the hospital because you are so big. DH said, yes she is with the baby in there but if we are leaving the hospital, the baby wont be in there!
I am not a t shirt kind of woman to be diplomatic. Anything w a weird iron on and huge would not be something that I would wear.

A few weeks before that her sister (dh's aunt) gave me at my shower a baseball sort of cap with all these sayings of Mom written all over it. She was pushing my SIL and sister to have me open it first. she kept saying to my SIL "its a hat its a hat, she needs to open it first!" My SIL was like- why? She didnt realize, she wanted me to wear the flippen hat while I opened up my gifts!! SIL told me later, she knew that there was no way I was going to wear something like that!

So the hat and ugly tee went out the door asap...

"The true joy of life is the trip. The station is only a dream. It constantly out distances us."
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#30 of 116 Old 12-22-2006, 09:18 PM
 
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Oh, boy! When I left work today, I had a COPY PAPER BOX just FULL: of crappy stuff from coworkers. The ONLY things I kept were the $15 Starbucks gift card and the $25 Visa gift card (these were from my supervisor & dept. head). Oh, I did keep the $200 Christmas bonus, too! (It was prorated to that amount after only being there since 11/7!).

It was stupid Christmas decorations, some stand up things, ornaments and I don't have a tree (place too small) and too ugly anyhow. Several tea-light candle and holder sets. I try to ONLY burn pure beeswax.

When I got home from work, I took the box, contents and all and dumped it into the trashcans in the alley! I feel so light now!

lady.gif
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