November 30th, 2016
On My Mind

No Gifts For Me, Please

Christmas prep is already in full swing in my home. The Advent calendar is assembled, the trunk of my wagon is quickly filling up with packages, I’ve already hit a number of holiday fairs, and I’m having a ball finding presents for my friends and family. I’ve let folks know however, that this year no gifts for me, please. Nothing tangible that is, experiences are very welcome.

After cleaning out my family home on Martha’s Vineyard this summer, my house is not only full of my things, I now have paintings, rugs, two extra sets of silver, my great-grandmother’s china for 50, and masses of “stuff” waiting to be unpacked—needless to say, space is tight.

Instead, I’ve asked my family to join me on a number of fun experiences this Christmas—dinner at Blue Hill, a road trip to Catskill, NY, and concerts. I know they will add to this list with creative ideas of their own.


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Belted denim shirt


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Bow-detailed crepe midi dress


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Camilla one-shoulder textured-organic cotton maxi dress


Knotted sleeve-waist wool sweater


Paradise high-rise jeans


Nude leather sandals


Pearl ribbed-knit wool sweater


Cropped leather trousers


Ryder leather shoulder bag


Square sunglasses

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  • As always…perfect! I just asked for Hello Dolly tickets and I could see the excitement on my boy’s faces – LOL! It is the experiences that we remember not the “stuff”. Merry Christmas to you and your family. xx

    MaryBNovember 30th, 2016  10:18 AM

  • Fantastic idea. My promise to myself this year is to attend more: shows, concerts, galleries etc.

    SueMNovember 30th, 2016  10:35 AM

  • Preston, I couldn’t agree more!

    Sharing wonderful experiences throughout the New Year and, in my opinion, passing what may be overwhelming/unnecessary possessions which no longer serve us along to others who will delight in them anew, is the essence of this season.

    TabithaNovember 30th, 2016  10:36 AM

  • Same here. One present to open for each grandchild, the rest of us are getting experiences and charitable contributions in their honor.

    KathyNovember 30th, 2016  11:36 AM

  • This is a great idea, Preston. Seriously…we should all do this. Most of us do NOT need more stuff. And it takes the pressure off friends and family and puts the emphasis back on just enjoying the season.

    Sue BurpeeNovember 30th, 2016  11:43 AM

  • What a wonderful idea! This makes me happy.
    I have enjoyed your blog for years, thank you for the time and effort you put into it.

    BonnyNovember 30th, 2016  1:22 PM

  • Preston, I am looking to buy sterling silverware for my daughter who is getting married. Instead of buying new I was looking for a well loved set from a family who doesn’t use it anymore. Any suggestions? I saw in your post that you had after cleaning out the family home. Will you be keeping that if you know someone who sells this stuff could you please let me know? Thanks so much. happy holidays

    ellen felderNovember 30th, 2016  1:50 PM

  • While I agree with you for MYSELF, Preston, I do hope you’ll share your gift picks for friends and family members. I need help buying gifts for others!

    C.MicholNovember 30th, 2016  2:32 PM

  • I echo your holiday wishes. Just curious – what will you do with all that “stuff?” I too own sets of antique china and crystal that never gets used. My kids aren’t going to want it. Who will? What should we do with this “stuff?”

    Tori MordecaiNovember 30th, 2016  3:13 PM

  • One of my readers forwarded this article to me last week, following my Thanksgiving post. (
    I agree and am happy to enjoy experiences from friends and family anyday. I’ve opted for trips, with memories to last a life time, over gifts to celebrate occasions from my 50th birthday to our 30th wedding anniversary. Another favorite is concerts. An absolute highlight this year for me was going to Desert Trip. Experiences like these have so much value and are fun to give.

    Karima HunterNovember 30th, 2016  10:43 PM

  • Re. gifts: One idea is to give children (of any age) something from which they can learn about life before themselves. I.e., books on American history, a Constitution or Declaration, a book on Monticello or Mount Vernon (great for those interested in design, architecture, or gardening), or The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin (one of the most highly regarded books ever written). Or introduce them to religion and give them a book related to your faith. Give a young child a library card or a flag for their dorm room. Give the family a trip to a National Park, Winterthur, or some other historic American treasure. Visit a state they have never heard of. Organize the family to participate in Wreaths Across America, then go home and bake or mix up cocktails.
    Re. stuff: In my experience, finer furnishings may not seem special to young adults now, but will in time! At some point, most young ladies and fellows are moved by living with cufflinks, tools, silver, linens, barware, home furnishings/china, etc., that their father/mother/grandpa & grandma or aunt/uncle once lived with and cared for. Introduce value and appreciation in family heritage to the kids – that is a gift in itself. It’s different than empty consumerism. The ‘Me First’ generation could stand to be reminded that someone else arrived before them and whether they lived simply or lavishly, their life was worthy. Part of adulthood is to assume responsibility for family keepsakes. Carrying the torch for God, country, and family traditions is a duty and responsibility for each generation.

    PaulaDecember 1st, 2016  1:22 AM

  • Preston: wonderful idea! I’m planning to do the same. Paula: your comment is very well put. Thank you

    Mary BooneDecember 1st, 2016  9:30 PM

  • Lovely.

    LeeDecember 4th, 2016  10:18 PM


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