Kicking It Old School S.P.U.G. Style

It’s the holiday season and we all know what that means: mass amounts of spending on useless gifts.  If you’re trying to incorporate a minimalist mindset to your personal life, it’s likely that it will translate further when thinking about gift giving.

This may be an over-exaggeration but you can’t tell me that you’re not feeling slightly stressed about the holiday rush, the shopping extravaganza, and going broke.  The last minute shopping at the crowded malls, trying to search for gifts for people who have everything, the toys for kids you barely know, and the credit card bill that you’re about to receive are nothing short of getting a massive headache. As a minimalist wannabe, going to the mall and being surrounded by people spending money on the oddest, and most useless things somehow stresses me out!

Society of the Prevention of Useless Giving

In 1911, The Society of the Prevention of Useless Giving (S.P.U.G.) was founded by a group of women who rebelled against giving gifts solely on the purpose of obligation and in the hopes of getting something in return.  

Such a great idea, don’t you think? 

Unfortunately, the society was short-lived partly because of World War I in 1914.  Additionally, SPUG’s were getting a bad ‘wrap’. Check out the article, ‘The Original War on Christmas’, if you want to learn more about the history of S.P.U.G. 

Originally, the purpose of the society was ‘preventing useless giving’ and ‘reduce excessive spending’.  With a bit of time, the purpose of S.P.U.G. morphed into ‘the promotion of useful giving’, ‘not to spend less, but to spend wisely’.

To be honest, I’m quite okay with either reasoning.

Guilty of Consumerism

We don’t just foolishly spend money on ourselves. We spend money on others and as sweet as this may sound, is it really? Is it sweet to mindlessly buy and give gifts for the sake of giving, to not look cheap, or to buy out of pure obligation? Even if there is no heart in this type of gift giving?

I admit that I am a culprit to spending obscene amounts of money on random gifts.  Most of the time I don’t even know if the individual already has the gift or would even want one.  Other times I feel like I have to give something even if I don’t want to. Does this make me a bad person? Perhaps not but as I’m writing this, I feel like scrooge and I feel horrible.

Does this sound familiar?  Do you fall into the category of feeling forced to give gifts along with me?  Do you feel like you want to be a SPUG? I certainly do (I really hope I’m not alone on this).

Not wanting to buy gifts could be in part due to the fact that I am frugal but I also think it’s because I hate clutter and waste and wish everyone was into minimalism!  As a self described minimalist Tiger Mom, I don’t want to be the cause for other peoples clutter. Don’t get me wrong, for the most part I give because I truly want to out of thanks or because I know the recipient would really like the gift or need it.  So, I’m not THAT horrible of a human being.

Are there ways to avoid giving unnecessary gifts, avoid going into , senseless spending and feeling begrudged.  How can we embrace our inner SPUG?

To Give or Not To Give: That Is The Question

I’m not against gift giving.  Who doesn’t love to receive gifts?  Have you ever received a gift that you did not want or had absolutely no use for?  The look on your face must have been priceless when see what was under the wrapping paper.  Trying to fake enthusiasm and thankfulness is tough. Have you ever given a gift where the recipient seemed so disinterested and dismissed it right away.  It’s a horrible feeling.  

So, what are we to do?  Do we stop giving gifts altogether?  Of course not. Gifts are great. Some people really love giving gifts and I don’t want to take that away from them.  My sister, one of the most generous persons I know who gives really thoughtful gifts. You’d be so lucky to receive a gift from her.  

Unnecessary and useless gifts however, are not so great.  I am sure it is safe to say that we all fall victim to spending money on useless gifts, even my sister. So, let us turn our focus into ‘Useful Giving’.

Isn’t it enough just to be ‘present’ in the moment (pun intended)?. Gifts are good but being surround by friends and making memories is better!

Imagine all the unworn clothes, tags still on, that are donated or the teapot that’s re-gifted or the hand lotions that are stored with all the other lotions to be used  ‘some day’. Not to mention the wasted time and money spent on the purchase of these gifts.

Benefits of Letting Your True S.P.U.G. Shine

Whether you don’t fall into the ‘useless giving trap’ or you ‘promote useful giving’, there are several benefits to being more mindful when gift giving.

  • Saves money (money saved can be used to help others in need)
  • Saves time from going to the shopping mall
  • Some gifts allow you to spend quality time with the recipient (a painting class)
  • You don’t feel guilty about buying shit that’s just going to go into the landfill
  • You Stress less from trying to find the perfect gift that you don’t ever end up finding or that someone else bought as well (Last Christmas I received the same 3 gifts from 2 different people)

Here are some options for gifts: 

  1. Home baked goods (who doesn’t love home baking?)
  2. A board game (to promote family time)
  3. Donating to a charity in someone’s name
  4. An adventure or activity or experience (have you heard of Goat Yoga or an Alpaca Dance Party?  What about cooking lessons?)
  5. Framing something you know is sentimental to someone (an old photo)

S.P.U.G. – Please Come Back

I really hope the S.P.U.G.movement makes a comeback.  As semi-minimalist, I am all about the S.P.U.G. I am Pro-S.P.U.G.  

I love receiving gifts, especially gifts that are useful to me. Also, gift giving is not a bad thing.  But, do you it’s possible to look forward to boxing day, can we all start looking forward to ‘giving tuesday’ instead?

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Hey there, I'm Cristine (aka Nomadgirlfriend). I want to quit my job so I can travel more. I just need to figure out the digital world so I can start making money to feed my wanderlust with my digital nomad partner. I welcome you to join my on this journey of self discovery and new adventures!

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