A few days ago, it was my husband’s birthday. As per usual, he didn’t have a wish-list and did not expect – probably did not want – any birthday presents. And as per usual, I did not get him anything (other than a really nice dinner out). Whenever we tell friends and family that we don’t buy each other presents, they always find it odd. Sometimes they even think it’s sad (which I think is kind of sad…). But to us, it is the most natural thing in the world, and it suits us perfectly. Still, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect and gather my thoughts on why we don’t buy presents for each other.
We don’t buy presents because we don’t need stuff
My husband and I are very privileged. We both have full-time jobs that pay just fine, and we have all the things that we need. Should we ever need a new thing, we can afford to buy it on our own. In fact, we probably prefer to buy it ourselves so we get exactly what we want and need. That alone makes it difficult to come up with a meaningful wish-list.
We are also people that enjoy having primarily what we need (clothes, furniture, food and such stuff) and then some things we don’t need but that give us value somehow. For me, the latter would be stuff for my bullet journal (awesome notebooks and pens) and fragrance sticks for my yoga/meditation practice. For my husband (who is probably even less materialistic than me), it would be extra delicious food or a computer game. Neither of us wants to end up with a cluttered home just because we insist on buying each other new stuff every single year.
We don’t like the consumerism of mandatory gift-giving
We both find it pretty ridiculous to buy presents simply because ‘that’s just what people do’ for birthdays/Christmas/weddings/baby showers/[insert other tradition where gift-giving is more or less mandatory]. This is consumerism at its best. People have birthdays and celebrate a million things every year. So what better way to keep overproduction going than by manipulating people to believe, nay, insist, that presents for almost everything is just a fact of life?
For us, the mandatory birthday present is not only completely devoid of personality – it is also a waste. It’s a waste of money to buy stuff that people don’t need or want. It’s also a waste of resources to support the production of stuff that people don’t need. So, buy refusing to play the game of mandatory gift-giving, we are taking a big step on our journey to financial independence and a sustainable life.
We don’t buy presents because we show love in other ways
My husband doesn’t love me because I buy him presents – or vice versa. That doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate it when the other person brings home something really nice. But we want to celebrate each other’s birthdays by showing an act of love – and presents are just not necessarily that. A nice dinner is a much better way for us to show affection than buying a present. And the addition of a present then becomes unnecessary. I would say that, generally, the time we give each other is one of the most valuable ‘gifts’.
This doesn’t mean we don’t ever buy presents for each other. It means that we only buy presents when we feel like it and genuinely think the other person will value it.
What is your opinion on (birthday) presents?
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