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  • Writer's pictureKristina Browning

"No more gifts" Email to my Family



In Episode 83 of the Home Space and Reason Podcast, I interviewed Courtney Winstone of The Salvaged Woodshop. She discussed how fed up she got over the amount of accumulated "stuff" that was in her home and after an assessment, realized that much of it came as gifts from others throughout many years. Her family decided to write an email to their loved ones asking them not to buy them physical gifts anymore and it explained why. It was well received and everyone honored their request! This is a more sustainable way of living with less stress and less clutter. I asked if she would be willing to share it with us because many of us have had the desire to send an email like this. What a gift it would be to have wording to start with and use as inspiration. Here is her letter:


Happy New Year to you all! By sending this email to you we would like to share with you the intention that we have set ourselves, as a family, for the following year. 


From now until Dec 31st, our aim is to not give or receive presents in the traditional way nor will we purchase any ‘thing’ that we do not absolutely need.


Our entire house including every cupboard and surface is bursting at the seams with ‘stuff’ that is not being used. We cannot fit any more clothes into drawers, food into cupboards, shoes on the rack, toys and games on the shelf, linen into the closets, or storage in the loft. 


We want to develop our and the girls’ gratitude for what we already have...because we have SO much already that we take for granted. We really believe that we will all learn a great deal about ourselves, the way in which we look at ‘stuff’ and what we truly value in life. 


So we are having a year of using up what we already have. The rules are simple

  1. if we feel we absolutely need something, we look in every drawer/ cupboard in the house/ shed for something that is appropriate or could be substituted. 

  2. if still nothing is usable, then we see if we can make it out of materials we already have.

  3. Does a neighbor/ family member have one we could borrow? 

  4. Is there something different that will substitute for it? 

  5. If we still truly feel we need it then we will start our shopping in charity shops, the tip/dump, eBay, local selling sites, Facebook Marketplace, etc.

  6. As an ABSOLUTE last resort, we will purchase the ‘thing’ in a shop, trying our best that it does not contain plastic, is locally produced, and is recycled/ recyclable. 


Some of you may think we have gone bat crap crazy but this is only a year. In the grand scheme of things, a year is not that long if you live to Grandma Pat or Grandpa Romen’s ripe old ages of 96 and 93. We are also giving you fair warning so there is lots of time to prepare if indeed you wish to pass on a gift.


We are going to have to be strict and not purchase for ourselves or accept from others any ‘thing’ during 2018 that does not fall under the rules we have set ourselves. If you do wish to gift us something then the guidelines below may help:


Yes please to these types of gifts: 

  • Experiences

  • Your time. For instance: teach us something you’re good at.

  • Come over and craft with us (we have a cupboard bursting at the seams containing all sorts of things to do!)

  • Play cards or a board game with us (we have a cupboard of those as well)

  • Draw/ paint us a picture or come over and color with us (I have coloring books and markers/pencil crayons for all the family to have their own and also invite friends!)

  • Bake something or purchase a consumable where the packaging can be recycled or reused. Preferably no plastic in the packaging. 

  • Give us a tree or a plant to pot out that you’ve grown from a seed in a reused plant pot 

  • A secondhand book that enriches our lives 

  • Write us a letter or pick up the phone and share with us what you’ve been up to

  • Money is acceptable because as far as we are concerned you’ve given your time to earn it and it will go into savings or toward an experience

  • Invite us for a coffee or special meal

  • Something that you have put your time and effort into making, that can be consumed by us. For instance homemade soap, a dish of food, etc.


No thank you’s: 

  • Any ‘thing’ or ‘something physical’ that is not consumable unless you have made it. Eg. no clothes/ toys/ nic naks/ wrapping paper, gift bag or card (unless it’s been reused, I have loads if you need any!)

  • Birthday or Christmas cards unless you have made them entirely out of reused materials:  just write us a letter on a piece of paper, scrap paper would be best because you are reusing it once more before it gets recycled. 

  • Anything containing plastic or glass unless it has been reused (eg, having consumed a bottle of gin you find the bottle is nice so you fill it with something you’ve made, that can be consumed, in order to gift it)


If any gifts do slip through the net or we’ve forgotten to tell people what we are doing then we will be donating them to others in more need than us. 


The above guidelines are not perfect and could possibly evolve as the year progresses but we are going to do our absolute best to stick with our intentions and hopefully learn something along the way. 


We are always appreciative of all your gifts, but for this year, we are trying something different.  If you decide to partake in our little experiment then thank you very much and we look forward to seeing you and spending time with you. 

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