How to Deal with Unwanted Christmas Gifts

How to Deal with Unwanted Christmas Gifts

Did you or your children receive unwanted gifts this Christmas? Are you not sure how to go about getting rid of them without feeling like a heartless and unappreciative person? I hope this post helps.

First of, let’s make something clear. When I say “unwanted gift” I mean that before we received that gift we didn’t have any desire or need to own it. I am not saying that receiving that gift was an unwanted experience. For most of us, whether we need something or not, it is a great joy to receive a gift from someone.

I have received unwanted gifts for myself and my daughter on several occasions: a stuffed animal, an electronic toy, a blouse, or a decorative item. The issue was that for someone who lives in a small space and who has put a lot of effort to pair stuff down, having unnecessary things just doesn’t work.

My space is designed to serve me and my family everyday. Many of the things we own have a specific purpose in our daily routines and activities. I don’t have much space (physically and mentally) for things that I don’t use. I have to be very intentional about what I keep and what I discard. If I kept everything that I ever received, my apartment would turn into a storage unit and that’s no fun to live in.

If we received an unwanted gift and wonder whether we should keep it or not we must face a difficult question: do I want to have this item around all the time just in case someone who gave it to me comes over?

Most of the time my personal answer is that I don’t. I need to be willing to take the risk of having a difficult or awkward conversation with a friend as the cost of living in a space that makes me happy, in a space where I feel like I can exercise some sort of control and in a space that’s not filled with stuff I’m not using. As much as I hate to think that I could offend or hurt someone’s feelings, I get rid of stuff for practical reasons not personal.

My advice for dealing with unwanted gifts without ruining your friendship is this:

  1. Keep in mind what a gift symbolizes. People want to show their care and love through gift-giving.
  2. Consider the monetary value. Don’t treat a stuffed animal or a set of shampoos like an iPad or Tiffany’s ring.
  3. Remember the value of your friend’s gesture. Focus on showing your appreciation for the thought and effort to give you a gift.
  4. Look at the gift objectively. If you can use it, have space for it, like it, by all means, keep it. But if you don’t, find a new place for it. You can donate it, think of someone who really needs it, or maybe even sell it (I know that one sounds pretty heartless).

As you deal with unwanted gifts, continue investing in your relationships and deepen them. Devote time to your friends and find ways to show them your care in ways that you find appropriate. Relationships are more than stuff so focus more on how you treat your friendship, not the stuff.

Reflecting on 2018 – How I Learned to Handle Change

Silicon Valley Minimalists - Reflecting on 2018 - How I Learned to Handle Change

Christmas is over and I am counting down the days till New Year’s. As this year comes to an end, it’s nice to think back on the past twelve months.

2018 was a year of change. This was most visible through my husband because he was no longer working in tech and pursued working from home doing photo and video work. It was also a transitional year for me because I completed my undergraduate studies and was no longer a student (a title/identity I had become very accustomed to over the past 5 years).

Sometimes I feel like my whole life is transitional. Things never seem to stay the same for too long. Whether it’s work, school, family, housing there is always something new that comes up. Something new to figure out and embrace.

2018 was a year in which I learned to appreciate change. But don’t be deceived. I don’t usually handle change easily. When I enter a new season of life it takes me a lot of time, prayer, and effort to feel comfortable. Most of the time I am restless, confused, and my mind can’t take a break until I finally come to peace that this is how things will be from now on.

The most challenging change in my life was the birth of my daughter in 2016. I went from being very independent, driven, and focused to tired, scattered, and needed by another person almost all the time. For a long time, I felt lost. Everything that I was familiar with was gone. The way I was operating on a day-to-day basis was so different that I needed a lot of God’s help to remind me of who I was regardless of how I spent my time. It took me a long time to finally accept my role as a mom and find myself in it.

Then in 2018, there was another big change in my life. Graduating from college left me with a lot of questions about my career and dreams. At 25 I already felt behind most young people in Silicon Valley. In my mind, people around me had work figured out and were happily pursuing their careers. I, on the other hand, was raising my daughter and had no idea what the first career step would be for me. Being a student felt known and comfortable. Being done with school felt terrifying. What was I going to do with my life now? How would I use my days to contribute to society and my family? How would I pay bills and how would I put everything I had been learning into practice?

When change comes there are tons of questions we need to wrestle with and find answers to. This year I realized that change, like giving birth to my daughter, graduating from school, or even buying a new bookshelf, is just a normal part of life. We should expect something new in our lives all the time. We should not fear the new but be prepared for it by building a strong foundation in Christ that will keep us strong when everything else is being shaken.

This year, putting my personal faith and trust in God in the midst of change became crucial to me. When I walk through a terrain that’s constantly evolving, reshaping, redirecting it’s comforting to know that God doesn’t change. He remains strong, loving, and clear. He’s not confused about my life decisions and about the circumstances that appear.

No matter how unclear our life may seem, God is consistent. He’s consistent with His love towards us and with His vision for our lives.

In 2018 God has been teaching me that life is not about focusing on and dissecting the changes in our life but about remembering our calling. Which to me means not holding on tightly to what we have on Earth and what we are used to but to be attentive only to Him; to His bigger ideas of our participation in the Kingdom that go beyond our job title or where we live.

Matthew 16:24

‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.’

I hope for each one of you facing transition in 2019 that you will embrace change and confidently lean on Jesus. Remember that things, family, friends, jobs, homes, clothes, furniture come and go. Cherish them when they are near but let go when the time is right. Hold on to Jesus forever.

Getting Christmas Priorities Right

Silicon Valley Minimalists Taking Pressure Of Christmas Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year
With the
kids jingle belling
And everyone telling you
be of good cheer
It’s the most wonderful time of the year

It’s the hap-happiest season of all
With those holiday greetings and gay happy meetings
When friends come to call
It’s the hap-happiest season of all

Andy Williams

When I was anticipating Christmas as a little kid, the last thing I thought about was pressure. I helped my parents prepare the house and I shopped for a few gifts but I was completely unaware of a huge load of work Christmas can be for the adults.

There is a lot of pressure to plan, to clean, to bake, to decorate, and the biggest one, to shop. Starting with Black Friday, we are off to a four-week of the craziest spending time. According to the Gallup reportAmericans predict spending $885 on gifts this holiday season.

While gift-giving is a beautiful gesture, it’s important to consider if buying gifts and spending extra time at the store or online shopping is really needed to experience Christmas. Especially considering that 53.1% of people report to receiving unwanted gifts during Christmas” and “$16 billion is wasted on unwanted gifts every year.

One of my favorite Christmas songs is Andy Williams’ hit It’s The Most Wonderful Time Of The Year. Just like Andy Williams, I also believe that Christmas “It’s the hap-happiest season of all.” Unfortunately, these days it’s a lot easier to feel like Christmas is the most stressful time of the year, not the happiest.

So this year I asked myself: What can I change in my approach to Christmas that would take off the pressure? What can I do to truly make this season happiest of all?

The first thing that came to my mind was to really remember what the Christmas season is all about: Christmas is about spending time together, making joyful memories, and singing praises to the Lord.

It is not about shopping, rushing from store to store, making extra to-do lists, eating extra cookies, and stressing out in the midst of all of it.

If we really want to take the pressure of Christmas season we need to ask ourselves what we want this Christmas to be about – and then stop wasting time on things that don’t matter to us and start doing things that do.

We need to choose. We need to trade off.

Personally, given the above-mentioned data and the simplest fact that most of us just don’t really need much more stuff in our lives, I have given up on purchasing gifts. Instead, I decided to host friends more frequently this month and spend more time with my family. I also gave up on the perfect Instagram and Pinterest decor and opted in for a handful of pieces of Christmas decor in my apartment. And lastly, I decided to spend my evenings listening to Christmas music, reading a book, studying the Bible and talking to my spouse.

Getting my Christmas priorities straight has really helped me to feel the happiness, the joy and the peace that I have been singing about. I hope that you’ll be able to find your own ways to take the pressure of the Christmas season and truly enjoy the beauty of it.

Here are some ideas on how we can spend time during Christmas that’s not shopping 🙂

  • Host a potluck for your friends
  • Invite your family over for a meal
  • Commit to reading one book by Christmas Eve
  • Go for a long walk and call a friend or family member
  • Journal about your experiences this year and hopes for the new year
  • Watch a Christmas movie
  • Organize your space and declutter <3
  • Write letters to your family and friends and include a gift card instead of a store-bought gift
  • Bake or cook something special that makes you happy

I Stopped Bringing My Child to Stores

Silicon Valley Minimalists Christmas Tip- I Stopped Brining My Child to the Stores

As a stay-at-home mom, I am very lucky to be able to go to the stores during somewhat quiet weekday hours. Not needing to shop on the weekend when stores are crowded helps me be more efficient and calm.

However, during Christmas season stores seem to be crazy anytime I go.

A few years ago my strategy for grocery shopping was to do it as early on a Saturday morning as possible. I literally would set my alarm for 6 AM, wake up, grab a snack and my shopping list, and head out to the store in my PJs. An hour later I was back with groceries for the whole week. No fuss and no lines.

Now… I don’t do that anymore. I have other things going on. But there is something else I came up with for the Christmas season that still helps me to be more calm and efficient: stop bringing my child to the stores.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday or a weekend, I decided to limit how often I bring my toddler with me. One reason is so that I can take my time and be focus on navigating busy stores. Another reason is to not limit my daughter’s involvement in the consumeristic part of Christmas.

I’d like to raise her in a way that she won’t necessarily associate Christmas with shopping but with music, cooking, moderate gifts, and friends and family. Taking her to the stores at an age when she can’t quite understand yet why there are so many things and people around would not help with that goal.

So I shop by myself.

Efficiently.

Calmly.

Patiently.

Joyfully – I’m seriously so thankful that God provides for us!

When?

I do a kid swap with a friend of mine once a week. She watches my daughter for a few hours and then I watch her daughter. It’s a great opportunity for me to take a break and read, write, or simply go shopping.

If I don’t go shopping during the week, then I will go during the weekend, which is much busier but I know I can go by myself since my husband is available to be with our daughter.

I’m also considering asking my husband to do the shopping this month so that I can forget about it altogether.

Having supportive friends and a spouse is such a blessing. It’s not just because of the bigger overall feeling of having support and community. What makes it amazing is actually the small little opportunities like being able to go shop by myself or clean the apartment, or just nap.

If you have friends and family around, this Christmas can be a great opportunity to work together and help each other out. If the idea of not needing to take your children to the store sounds good to you, think about the times and people that you have available to make it happen. I’d love to hear how it works for you.

Should I Buy Christmas Gifts For My Toddler?

Silicon Valley Minimalists Should I Buy Christmas Gifts For My Toddler?

I have a two and a half-year-old daughter and this year is the first Christmas I have been rethinking the idea of gifts. The past two Christmases, my daughter was too little to really notice the holiday and what’s it all about.

This year, she’s noticing the Christmas decorations, Christmas music, and Christmas trees. And I wonder… should I buy her Christmas gifts?

Continue reading “Should I Buy Christmas Gifts For My Toddler?”