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Simple Stories – Pamela’s Gifts of Experiences

Thanks so much to Pamela for sharing her story!  I love her Gifts of Experience.  Gifts and minimalism are a challenge and often how it is handled can cause bitter feelings.  This is how she handled it for ‘the best of both worlds’.  The following is a guest post by Pamela.

Simple Stories - Minimalist Living - Gifts and HolidaysImage:

My downsizing journey began five years ago, but at times I feel like I’m just getting started. As a former pack-rat and collector of all things eBay, my path to simplifying has been a long and winding path from my closet to the local Goodwill. Trust me, it’s only in the past 6 months that have I been able to see empty area in my junk drawer.

I’ve approached downsizing from many angles, but the “don’t bring anything into the house” method seems to work the best for me. It’s the plan that has been helping me work through my unhealthy stockpile of Bath and Body Works Lotion.

When my last birthday began to loom on the horizon and I knew I needed a plan. If I was going to succeed at this downsizing thing and stop bringing new things into the house, I wanted to enjoy my special day with NO new things.

First I just told my family that I really didn’t want to have any more things – whenever anyone would ask, I would say that I really didn’t want anything at all.

However, my sweet family didn’t like my no-gifts idea. They knew I had been downsizing my possessions, but my family still wanted to show they cared about my birthday. In other words, they knew that Bath and Body Works had some new lotions that I didn’t have in my stockpile.

So I hatched a new plan.

Whenever anyone asked, I would tell them I was interested in Gifts of Experiences. Instead of things for my birthday, I wanted experiences that I could enjoy alone or with my family.

My birthday was last month and my plan was a success. I was showered with Gifts of Experiences:

  • From my husband, I was given an afternoon off to enjoy the local art museum without the kids.
  • My sister gave me with tickets to the symphony.
  • My father knew I would like tickets to see a special science museum exhibit.
  • My family spent an enjoyable evening with my aunt viewing classic cars.

The only physical gift I received was a set of fine lotions (of course) however I have been enjoying them each day and will soon be finished with the set.

My birthday was entirely different this year, one that I will treasure and remember well. As I continue to downsize and live a simple life, I hope I can always remember to cherish my Gifts of Experiences.

About Pamela

Pamela has visited 41 states and 16 countries and now calls the beautiful Pacific Northwest home. You can find her writing about books, homeschooling teens and her terrible cooking on her blog at I Read. Do You?. You can also follow on Facebook at and Pinterest  at .

Do you have a story you would like to share about simplifying?  Send me an e-mail 🙂


  1. I love to give and get ‘gifts of experience’! Many years ago, I gave my parents ticket to a local dinner theatre – and opened a new world for them. They’ve been to plays numuerous times since. A couple years ago, my husband and I took my nephew, his wife and 4 kids to a children’s museum. Not sure who had more fun!

    • We did a bunch of experiences with our Christmas last year and the kids are asking for us to do the same thing this year 🙂 Dinner theater sounds fun!

  2. I love the idea of dinner theater for my parents! They would love to be able to go to a dinner theater regularly.

  3. I love gifts of experience! It’s what Danny and I do for Christmas, we do a date night, show or weekend trip in lace of “stuff”. The girls have only ever gotten about three gifts from us-but one set of grandparents goes overboard and buys like ten gifts each kid!! This year we are bringing them to a cirque show. Should be fun 🙂

    • oh, that does sound fun!

  4. Elizabeth Kane Elizabeth Kane

    Really like this idea of giving “gifts of experiences.” This should be my new line from now on. I hate when someone close to me asks what I want, and I want to just say, “Please don’t give me anything! I just want to spend time with you.”

    And I used to hoard Bath and Body Works stuff too – it’s a hard addiction to break because we all need to bathe! And they have those “need” items that are small enough to keep them stashed under my bathroom sink just in case. My best friend is trying to be more minimalist too and we talk about how hard those semi-annual sales are too good to give up when we’re strolling through the mall.

    • lee lee

      stop strolling through the mall lol

    • yes 🙂 I have been to those semi-annual sales.

  5. Ilo Ilo

    I have never heard of “Gifts of Experiences” before. But I have to say as soon as I read this posting, I felt a sense of relief. A relief that I will FINALLY have an answer to that every favoring question that almost all of us get “what would you like for Christmas/your birthday.” This posting came at just the right time for me. I am at the beginning of the process to simplify my life/home and with christmas right around the corner I really don’t want more things to replace the old things that I have been purging.

    • so glad you liked it! Stay posted because I have a bunch of fun stuff coming for enjoying a minimalist Christmas 🙂

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