Things are resources. They require resources to make + take up space as waste. These days, brand new things don't necessarily have more life in them than previously used things. New things are the more culturally acceptable category of gifts, but we can imagine a different way.
Here are a few ways I can imagine our ready-to-pass-on things becoming good gifts:
- A group of people is invited to a shared document with two columns: one for items they are looking for, one for items they are looking to rehome. Matches become gifts in either direction! :)
- A group of friends or family with children trades toys rather than purchasing new ones for each other. The same might work with clothing for teenagers or adults.
- People exchange books from their own shelves with notes included about why a book was chosen for that person. Maybe a specific genre is chosen for a group with a common interest...like craft books or cookbooks with projects/recipes highlighted + notes included.
- Exchange pre-enjoyed puzzles or games + a favorite homemade snack. This one could provide the evening's entertainment as well!
- Exchange a propagation of a plant! Maybe an extra pot could even be found. Planting them together could be fun too (only one bag of soil to be purchased).
- Agree that what is done with a gift after it is given is the recipient's choice. Responsibly passing something on (again) allows it to be a gift to someone else, and that is beautiful.
- Don't pass on things that just become someone else's responsibility to dispose of. If in doubt, ask first with special sensitivity.
- Notes are gifts. Take time to write a few words or have your little one draw a picture of why their cousin is going to love playing with this toy. Mmmm...squishy feels!
- Treat it like a gift. Depill the sweater. Shine up the baby shoes. Wrap it beautifully. Presentation infers value.
Many of us find frustration in having too much. Maybe we found value in that book at one or many time(s), but we have many other books too. Maybe our child loved that toy for a year, but now has a new interest. Maybe we always reach for a different sweater. At the same time, many of us are going to shop for books, toys + sweaters.
Again, gifting has so much to do with expectations. This sort of gifting may only work with a handful of like-minded friends + family. Then again, maybe one conversation is all that it takes. Best wishes for a comfortable gifting season full of generosity + connection!