I love my mother dearly, truly I do. But do you know that Hallmark character Maxine? The cranky old(er) lady who complains about everything? My mother has grown to embody Maxine in her later years. I can only wonder if I will do likewise as my age creeps up…it’s not looking good folks. Anyhow, this ornery behavior is most apparent when people give my mother gifts.
This past winter, my mother hosted a small gathering. Our cousin Rosetta so generously brought her a hostess gift and upon giving it my mother, my sister-in-law and I looked on in horror. What was she going to do this time? I, myself, was jumping for joy inside when I saw a L’Occitane box. Oh the luscious products from that store! Would my mother appreciate this generous gift? Would she complain? She still hasn’t gotten the hang of “This is lovely, thank you so much for thinking of me,” while then passing the gift on to some lucky recipient (me) who won’t complain about it. Well, she proceeded to tell Rosetta that she didn’t think this kind of soap was good for her “hoo-ha.” Yes, you read this correctly. My sis-in-law and I had to once again school her, and tell her that at no time during a gift exchange should her “hoo-ha” ever enter the conversation. In fact, my mother’s 70+ year old nether regions should not even be spoken about in this blog, but a girl has got to make a point, no?
So what exactly is my point, other than the importance of being a gracious gift recipient? Rosetta hit the nail on the head here. From a professional organizer’s standpoint, and especially when giving a hostess gift, one of the best gifts you can give is the gift that goes away. Think about it. Often we are gifted items that we don’t want or don’t need. What I notice about many people who have clutter surrounding them is that they tend to keep all things that were given to them by loved ones and close friends, regardless of whether they need it, want it or even if they like it! The recipient feels, however, that this gift represents the giver’s love and appreciation, and therefore it must be kept. To compound the conundrum, “What am I going to do when this person comes over and they don’t see the item displayed!” often accompanies the fear of passing the gift on. Personalized items completely throw us for a loop, as well. This is how clutter accumulates and this is how we wind up surrounding ourselves with things that don’t bring us joy, or make our hearts sing, as my mom likes to say.
So what exactly is a gift that goes away? The big buck ones are always appreciated. They are the massage and facial gift cards that are much coveted. But what about some more reasonably priced items? Does the person you are gifting enjoy cooking? How about some nice olive oil, balsamic vinegar, or spices? Candlesbring joy and are also here to be enjoyed for a short while. Essential oilsare a fabulous gift and have so many uses. How about some budget friendly gift cards for experiences, like the movies or an ice-cream shop? A family then gets to enjoy some time together on an outing, or one may even have some stolen moments of blissful solitude. Soaps, lotions, shaving creams? Chocolate or alcohol?Do you know any of the person’s personal favorites? A magazine subscription?This is enjoyed for the month and then tossed in anticipation of the next month’s delight.
Now you might be thinking to yourself that you want your recipients to have something lasting, a gift they can look at to remember you or mark an event. I am a huge fan of pictures in order to document your precious memories and your beloved items. Did you give that home chef some spices? He or she can prepare a meal, thinking of you, and photograph him or herself enjoying the meal. Not only are you being thought of while this occurs, but the picture can easily go in a Snapfish album captioned, “Meal I made with Jenny’s gift of spices! Great evening.” This can be done for a night out at the movies. “Fun night out, thanks to Jen and Paul’s Christmas gift!” Not only do you have the memory of the fun time with your family, but you also recall the giver. To this point, a Snapfish gift card would even be a good gift idea. I gave my cousin one for her 40th birthday, so she would be able to document her year. Have you given someone body products? Another cousin gave me ginger scented lotion one year (one of my favorites) and every time I smell that scent, I think of her. Many of these gifts went away, but they keep on giving.
As you can see, this post is in the viewpoint of the giver and what we can do in order to bestow our love and appreciation on a dear one, without contributing to clutter. In a future post we will for sure discuss the perspective of the receiver. As for my mom, I feel I need to share that she is the most generous gift giver ever, not only of material things but of her time, love, and spirit, as well. One day perhaps, we can help her see the simple laws of the universe, that not only is important to give, but in order to keep things in balance and allow others the joy of giving, one must learn to receive too. We will just make sure we do it with wonderful gifts that go away.