Many of us simply don’t want more physical items in our homes. Perhaps we are simplifying, downsizing, and decluttering. Additionally, gifts from other seem to have their own added weight. Whether or not we want the item, we feel responsible for it because it is a gift. So, how do we let the people in our lives know that we really don’t want physical gifts? Moreover, is there a way to courteously ask for money instead of physical gifts?
Why Physical Gifts Are Problematic
Sure, it’s the thought that counts. Therefore, we want to be grateful and gracious when someone gives us a gift. But the fact of the matter is that it’s pretty rare for someone to give us an ideal gift that we actually want and will use. As a result, gift giving ends up creating quite a few problems for some of us.
They Take Up Space
Personally, I don’t enjoy having a lot of things in my physical space. I’m not a total minimalist. However, I have a small apartment and honestly the storage I do have is already packed to the gills. So, a lot of times people give me something I might like, but don’t want to deal with. Kitchen gadgets are a great example. People have given me some awesome kitchen supplies that are absolutely nice gifts. Nevertheless, storing them is more hassle than it’s worth.
Some People Have Trouble Getting Rid of Gifts They Don’t Want
I don’t have this problem at all. Honestly, I love to declutter my space. If someone gives me an amazing gift that I don’t want, that’s okay. I’ll re-gift it happily to someone who I know will use and enjoy it. Often I’ll ask people in my life if they want it. If I can’t find it a good home, then I’ll donate it. Whenever I do give gifts, I always say, “feel free to gift or donate it if you don’t want it.”
However, this isn’t as easy for a lot of people as it is for me. Many people feel like it’s rude to give away gifts. They attach sentimentality to it. Or they have people in their lives who will notice and ask, “hey what did you do with that thing I gave you?” Then they have to have an awkward conversation. And even for those of us who don’t have these issues, it still takes time and energy to get rid of the item.
It’s Awkward When You Don’t Like a Gift
All of us have likely experienced this at one time or another. We receive a gift. As soon as we open it, we know that we hate it. And yet we paste a smile on our faces and say thank you. It’s just awkward, regardless of whether or not you keep it.
How to Courteously Ask for Money Instead of Physical Gifts
So, receiving physical gifts can be a problem. What’s the solution? You can always let the people in your life know that you don’t want any gifts at all. However, what if what you really want / need is money? Most people have difficulties having conversations about money. Therefore it’s certainly uncomfortable to find a way to courteously ask for money instead of physical gifts. And yet, if that’s what you truly want, then most people who are gifting you things are probably going to be happy to know that. Heck, some will feel thrilled that they don’t have to deal with trying to find the right gift.
Gift Registry Options for Asking for Money
Recently, I attended a wedding. The gift registry online was very simple. The couple included just a handful of physical items that they wanted. However, right at the top, they had two options to just give money. One was a “honeymoon fund.” The other was “help us buy furniture.” In each, they explained how they planned to use the money.
This was probably the best example I’ve ever seen of how to courteously ask for money instead of physical gifts. Since it was all done online through a wedding registry, there weren’t any awkward conversations to be had. It was clear that the couple preferred money but they provided other options. If you are in the situation where a registry is appropriate, online technology now makes it super simple to courteously ask for money instead of physical gifts.
Potluck Approach to the Holidays
Do you get together with a large group of people for the holidays? If so, then you might want to have a conversation with all of the adults about forgoing physical gifts. Let people know that you would prefer that you each pool your money to pay for the celebration itself.
After all, there are so many costs involved in a big holiday get together including:
- Travel expenses for people from out of town
- Extra housing costs, whether that’s house rental or just the added utilities etc of having guests
- Food and beverage costs
- Entertainment costs for the outings you may enjoy together for the holiday
- Decorating costs for some families at the holidays
Instead of each person paying their own way plus then also buying physical gifts, propose the solution that you all just pool your money to pay for the costs of the holiday. Skip the gifts. (Or perhaps do a Secret Santa or agree to each buy one gift for the children in the home, etc.)
One On One Conversations
These big group conversations are easier in some ways when it comes to trying to courteously ask for money instead of physical gifts. After all, it seems less personal and more solution-oriented. However, sometimes you’ll want to have the conversations with specific people who usually give you gifts. This might be your spouse, your family members, friends, or acquaintances. Here are some tips:
- Let the person know in advance that you’d like to have a quick chat with them about gifts this year. Set a time and place where you’ll both feel relaxed.
- Begin by saying that you’ve always appreciated the gifts that they have given to you in the past.
- Then comes the “however.” Explain succinctly why you don’t want physical gifts this year. Keep it general or about you, not about them. For example, you might say, “I’ve been really struggling to downsize this year, and I don’t want to add any new items to my home right now. Therefore, I’m asking people not to give me physical gifts.”
- After that, you can say something such as, “I appreciate you hearing me about this. If you feel compelled to still give me something this year, I could honestly use cash right now. But if you aren’t able or comfortable to do that, no gift at all is totally okay.”
- Hear what they have to say in response. People may have emotional reactions to this conversation. Listening and validating what they say is important before ending the conversation.
Do you have any other smart tips for how to courteously ask for money instead of physical gifts?
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