Mother’s Day: A Get Clean Challenge to Do, Not Buy

by Madeleine Hawks

Over the last few years I’ve tried to start eliminating gift-giving from my life, slowly but surely.  Instead, I’ve tried to start thinking about other ways to show appreciation.  A number of factors brought me to this experiment, but the first was probably the wedding registry fever that comes about each spring now that I’m in my 20s.

On all the trips to Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, and Crate and Barrel, I would peruse the selection, list in hand, grumbling the whole time.  I really have a love/hate relationship with wish lists.  I like the idea that I’m giving a friend something he or she really will like, but it still doesn’t feel really personal.

And of course each Christmas, I hate the “should I” or “shouldn’t I” game when buying presents. Will she get me something? Should I get an extra something just in case? I’ve bought (and received) so many last minute gifts that end up in the Goodwill pile, or worse, the landfill.

Generally, I try to be a good friend/sister/daughter year-round so that I don’t have to play catch up with petty gifts at the holidays.  I write a lot of letters and I’ve been known to send some weird and thoughtful things by mail to friends I don’t see as much.  I also make a point to travel and actually spend time with everyone I care about.  So when gift time comes, I have really started pushing myself to think outside the box about what kind of gift matters.

Then I got on this kick about doing instead of buying.  For my mom’s birthday, I got her a stained glass class from Groupon. For my sister’s birthday, I asked her what activity she and I could do together in honor of her birthday, since I rarely spend much time with her.  I threw a bridal shower for a friend that was a “What do we do now?” theme where people brought date gifts like movie tickets, board games, and restaurant gift certificates.

I’ve heard of a few family traditions, especially for Christmas, that adhere to a similar philosophy about cutting back on gift-giving.  I think the Want, Need, Wear, Read tradition is a good one designed for kids.  And here’s a great summary on gift-giving from the Minimalists.

Well, this year I got my Mom a book for Mother’s Day.  (Is that a letdown?) It’s one I think she’ll enjoy but it’s not something she and I can do together.  There are plenty of ways to give meaningful gifts.  I think the “Do, not Buy” method is working for me as far as expanding my ideas about gift-giving, but I’m still always trying to think creatively about showing people that I care about them.  What are you doing with/for your Mom for Mother’s Day this year?


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