Monday, 20 October 2014

Striving for a Minimalist Baby Birthday

Our baby little girl (Turtle) turned 1 this week. While it has been a proud and somewhat nostalgic period of celebration this event brings to the fore all of the stresses associated with living in a small house.  Mainly because our loved ones want to shower our gorgeous baby with gifts.

Celebrating Turtle's first birthday.  I'm such a proud (and somewhat emotional) mum.
Most of our family live interstate and so that helped to reduce the amount of presents that we received.  It is a difficult thing to want (and need) to reduce the amount of stuff your baby gets.  I am still figuring out the best way to clearly and politely request no presents, or if presents are considered a must, then to request that they are secondhand.

Clearly I don't want Turtle to miss out on the fun of playing with a range of toys but realistically we can only fit so many things into our small home!  There is also the fact that she is often most happy playing with my thongs (flip flops), door stops and tea towels.

So I bet you're wondering what kind of presents we got and if we managed to think of a few eco-friendly alternative gifts?  Here are the main things we received:

1. A wishbone flip ride on rocker.  This is a gorgeous bike that flips into a rocker, made from reforested birch plywood.  I have no idea what reforested means but my mum said it was sustainable and I think that helped her to decide to buy it.  It is likely to last for a long time and Turtle should get heaps of use out of it.  This is the biggest present we received and it, sadly, is being stored out under the patio because we don't have space inside.
2. Five sets of new summer outfits and a couple of fairy outfits (very cute!) from family
3. A lovely array of children's books, including "Whose Bottom?" from our fantastic friends
4. A couple of teddy bears, one from our lovely elderly neighbours up the street and a native echidna from Granddad who was able to share the special day with us
5. A zoo membership for myself from my dad and for Mr Fix It from his mum so that we can take Turtle to the zoo (I can't wait to take her for her first visit!)
6.  Mr Fix It and I joined a toy library for Turtle's present so she has endless toys to borrow
7. A wooden puzzle and really cool bubbles that last for ages and stick to things (I also got these for the babies in our mum's group)
8. A huge bag of secondhand lego Duplo, which has been a huge hit! Thanks again Granddad and Kathy
9.  A hooded owl towel from my bestie which is going to be very cute on Turtle
10. A secondhand toy camera from Grandma, which she found at a market in the U.S on holiday
11. A bottle of rum (which I presume is for Mr Fix It and I although neither of us usually drink it)!

So as you can see there is definitely room for improvement here in terms of achieving Minimalism.  We did open a bank account for people to deposit money instead of giving gifts just after Turtle was born.  I need to make that known well before the Christmas season starts.  Then if Turtle really wants toys they can come out of her bank account.  Best of all we can buy those things secondhand.  Then we can donate, resell or regift as appropriate to keep things in use as they are outgrown.

I think its important to remember that the best gift Turtle can receive is to spend time with family.  Dedicated time is the most valuable gift of all.

Do you also get stresses about loved ones wanting to shower your kids with gifts?

It is hard when in our society consumerism is akin to religion and buying presents is considered a measure of your love.  I'd love to hear your ideas for low waste birthday gifts.


  1. Sounds like your family and friends have been very respectful of your wishes- how lovely! Happy birthday Turtle!

  2. Hey Liz,

    Loving your new blog, you write beautifully. Though we don't have kids, I can so relate to what you've said here about buying presents being akin to the measure of your love. Every year I grapple with balancing my distaste for overt consumerism with my family's need to spend up big and shower each other with presents we don't need. I've seen my nieces on Christmas day rip through piles of wrapping paper, unearthing presents which inevitably end up in a pile in the corner a few moments later. It's sickening. We try to give handmade gifts like jams and preserves and pair them with small gifts that have been locally made but I can't escape this feeling of expectation that comes with it. This view that if we don't buy expensive presents we are somehow being 'tight' or uncaring. It's a tough one and I have no idea how to broach the issue with own my family.

    1. Hi Erin, thank you for taking the time to read it! Yes, it's such a tough thing to balance out. I feel like I am putting my head in the sand a bit in the lead up to Christmas for just that reason. Handmade or secondhand gifts are definitely a nice way to show you care and often have so much more meaning and thought put into them. It is hard to tell your family without sounding rude and ungrateful. I guess all we can do is keep trying.