A Money Coach in Canada

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2400813685_104605aeb6_m.jpgMy bro and his family have pretty much everything they want, and more, and they know it.  Their son, my gorgeous nephew, is thoroughly indulged and adored by his grandparents and similarly has everything he could want, and more.

So a couple years back, my brother put the halt on excessive gift-giving at Christmas.  Actually, not just a halt on excessive gift-giving, but on gift-giving period.

I haven’t fully observed my brother’s edict (and I don’t mean to overstate it, either – he’s just saying, “Look, we have enough.  Christmas doesn’t have to be about boxes and boxes and boxes) but it creates a challenge.  I’m one of the dying breed who truly enjoys both searching for, giving, and receiving gifts at Christmas.  I also think that, despite its excesses, having a holiday about giving is counter-cultural and good for us!

What to do?  What to do?

Last year, I gave some chickens and hens to a needy family, via World Vision.

This year, I’m giving and asking-to-receive only Used Gifts.  I’m looking forward to this, actually – spending a couple days in antique shops on Main Street, sifting through those weird little shops crammed with curios, and of course browsing UsedVancouver.

My own wish list includes books from Abe (online used bookstore), or used jewellry.

The trick is to find the hidden gems – items still in good condition, that will (I hope) delight the recipient and deserve to be reclaimed rather than landfill.

Readers:  any suggestions of particularly good used-anything?  And frankly speaking, if you were a friend of mine and received a used gift, would you think that was cool, or would you be secretly dismayed?

About the Author

Imagine if Canadians were known for being all over their money. Engaged. Proactive. Getting out of debt. Savvy. Saving. Generous. Nancy wants to help. Nancy started her own journey with money over 15 years ago, and formed her company “Your Money by Design” in 2004 to help others along the same path. It’s not the usual financial advising/investment stuff. It’s about taking control of day-to-day finances –managing monthly cashflow effectively, spending appropriately, getting out of debt, saving. If you're ready to take control over your finances, pop by her business site, YourMoneybyDesign.com


  1. run100widow

    A few ideas could include:
    *making something with used items in your home (can be cherished items that can take on a new life) Examples could include repurposing a picture frame with stamps on the outer edge or coins from places you’ve travelled to.
    *A little more work but could be really cool. make a throw blanket with felted wool sweaters ( sweaters must be 100% wool – put them in the wash and they will felt. Cut them up into nice size squares and sew them together)
    *Do you have old pictures of you and your brother? make simple scrapbook that would help him and his family get to know a bit of his past through your eyes
    You did not mention how old your nephew was or what he liked:
    *what were your favorite books when you were his age? do you still have them? could you pass them on to him? you could also write a card that explains what you liked about that particular book to give him incentive to read it.

    Ok maybe some of these take time, but it can be lots of fun spending time on other people.


    Nov 17, 2008
  2. I love receiving used gifts, but that’s just me. I’m planning on giving people some re-usable shopping bags (although they are new) this year so I hope those people aren’t secretly dismayed.


    Nov 17, 2008
  3. My sister and her whole family (5 kids and spouses and grandkids) have had a used- gift edict along with homemade for a year or two and enjoy it a lot. It requires thought and/or time. I would not have a problem with receiving something used – even new items can be something you don’t like or need but the thought is always there. Just like I treasure my grandkids homemade things like pictures or various creations. (I still have a dried arrangement of winter grasses etc that was made by my then 6 or 7 year old grand daughter. it still looks incredible to me and I love the combinations she chose for it. )


    Nov 17, 2008
  4. What a fantastic idea. I’ve been so wrapped up in making this year an all handmade Christmas that I overlooked the idea of re-purposing used items!
    Personally, I would not be dismayed at all to receive a used present, but I think that some people, naturally, are more inclined to be accepting of the idea. For instance, I have two little bothers – one of them, I know for a fact that he would be more than happy to receive a used book or handmade scarf or something like that, while the other would (not so secretly) wish he received the dreaded big box gift card instead. To each his own, I suppose.
    My one suggestion for you would be to check out http://www.etsy.com. Etsy is “all things handmade” but they do have a great selection of vintage items on there, too. Happy hunting!


    Nov 17, 2008
  5. @run100widow Delightful ideas – tx! I’m not terribly craft-y, but I do love the photo album idea and for sure I’m going to dig down into my book box and see if there’s a cherished (if buried) book suitable for my nephew.
    @Peter – just checked out the bags on your blog. I’ve seen them, but had no idea previously at how compact/portable they are. Might buy one as a prez to *me!*
    @MSUnkempt – 5 kids and family: cool that all the kids are growing up with that lifestyle!
    @Lara V – etsy -had never heard of it. It’s gorgeous! Absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for the point.


    Nov 19, 2008
  6. My best gift – ever – is one I got this year. My daughter asked me if she could specify her graduation gift. She did not want the laptop like her brother got last year. She wanted to come with me when I went to UK to visit my sister.

    I said “That’s not a gift for you. That’s a gift for me.”

    Not the trip – though that was fun and I threw in a side trip to Paris – but the fact that I got two weeks of my teenage daughter’s undivided company. And we could have gone anywhere – or nowhere – and I would still have felt like that.

    There are so many people in this world who have so little, the practice of gift giving at Christmas seems to me to be innappropriate. But then I am an atheist.

    A thoughtfully chosen, out of print, used book that I have been looking for unsuccessfully for ages would be an absolutely super gift – at any time. Because it would show that the gifter really understood what the giftee wanted.


    Nov 29, 2008

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