Gift What You’ve Got

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I’m not buying a single Christmas present this year, yet I’m gifting more generously than ever before. How, you ask? Well, this year, instead of spending the entire holiday season fighting through shoppers and maxing out every credit card I own, I’m only gifting stuff I already have. Does that make me cheap? Probably, but here’s what that looks like. You might find yourself doing the same.

In previous years, my first instinct would’ve been to hit the mall and get everyone PlayStations and Fitbits. Even this year, I was tempted. I saw a Fitbit Flex for $60 and thought my friend would like one. When I considered all the stuff I already had at home though, I decided buying more crap wasn’t the answer. I knew reckless generosity did more harm than good, shiny stuff was stupid, and minimalism was key to a happy life. I went cheap this year, and it was easy. I started with the gently-used stuff I didn’t need anymore…

I dealt myself out of the wine world earlier this year, so I now had an excellent 8-bottle microcellar I wasn’t using. At the moment, it’s just plugged in, sucking up power while cellaring absolutely nothing. That was first on my gift list. Next was a deep fryer I’d only used once. I’d bought it for my ex, but she didn’t take it when she moved out. That went on the list too. My next decision was a tougher one. As I was cleaning my bedroom, I noticed the display of film cameras I hadn’t touched in over a year. As much as I loved them, I saw them gathering dust and immediately resolved to find them a better home. It made no sense to hoard them when they could be out in the wild making art, so I packed them up and started giving them away. One went to a film producer friend. One went to a photography colleague. One is going to a school. One is going to a fellow arts nerd. I literally felt lighter after I made my decision. I was putting value back into the world, and I was reclaiming my space. What an easy win. A copy of “Rework” I have is going to the owner of the liquor store I work at. An old CD player I don’t use is getting gifted to a mom who likes to put audiobooks on for her 4-year-old son. Every PS3 game I’m done with is getting redistributed to people who will actually play them. And so on, and so on. It’s not like I’m giving away garbage either. Even used, the microcellar would’ve been $100 on Craigslist, the CD player would’ve been $30, the cameras would’ve been $50 each, the book would’ve been $20, the deep fryer is at least $75, and the PS3 games would’ve been $10 each! Gifting stuff you don’t use anymore is just the smart thing to do!

Even stuff you consider trash can be repurposed as gifts. At my place, we have WAY more glassware than any person could logically need. Oversized wine glasses, awkward pint glasses, novelty shot glasses, etc. A friend suggested filling them with cheap candy and tying on a bow. Instant stocking stuffers. You can even make stuff! My coworker is painting rocks for her Christmas gifts. One of my friends is knitting something for me. There’s no end to what you can do once you decide to NOT spend money for the holidays. You might even end up gifting something more meaningful!

If you still have people on your shopping list, lock up your wallet and take a hard look around your home. You may find the perfect gift without setting foot outside. Besides, it’s cold out there. Maybe you can even do some snowflaking with the money you save!

Merry Christmas, everyone! I’m off to Seattle for the holidays. See you in 2017.