Setting Expectations and Boundaries Around Gift Giving
Gifts are like people. They come in all shapes and sizes and you like some more than others. Gifts, however, are just gifts, and you can toss, exchange, return, refund, re-gift, shelf, or love and use until you can't anymore and it finds a trash can or Value Village.
It's even worse with kids. The proliferation of stores like WalMart, the Dollar Store, and others of that ilk, make it convenient to purchase all kinds of trinkets and goodies of zero value, or fleeting value, for just a few dollars.
However, we all know that these trinkets will not create a meaningful and lasting memory like sharing an experience with you would. Also, let's not forget that more toys means more cleaning up for mommy and daddy.
A great practice is to stop and think why you are giving a gift. Just because? For the reaction? To feel better? A gift is meant as a gesture of love, kindness, and recognition. Not a contest of superficial goods. Think long and hard what will mean the most to a child, a parent, a friend, a host of a party. No one gift fits all, of course. And the gift-giver must think what is best. Let's give better gifts and get better at the entire act of gift-giving. If you'd like some ideas, here's a list of 50 Clutter Free Gifts
How to Set Gift-Giving Boundaries and Expectations:
You’ll be less likely to overspend if you know that your loved ones already know what to expect from you. Here are some examples of boundaries or expectations you can announce or discuss in advance:
- $20 or $50 max per person
- Only gifting to children under 18
- Only gifting a book to each person
- Only purchasing for immediate family
- Giving small homemade gifts
- Use the 4-Gift Rule for children: ‘something you want, something you need, something to wear, something to read’”
Once you know that they know what to expect, it releases expectations for them, too. You’ll feel the pressure lift off of you as well, once you’ve made these expectations clear. This is also the time where you can say “Please, don’t feel obligated to get me anything. We have everything we need. (But IF you insist, here’s a list of the few items or experiences we would really appreciate.)”