A Guide to Buying Presents for ‘Stuffocating’ Friends & Family at Christmas

James Wallman is the man behind the concept of ‘stuffocation’.  This is the idea that many of us have more stuff than we need cluttering up our homes AND that this STUFF is making us feel stressed.  In his renowned book Stuffocation, James Wallman “traces our obsession with stuff” and offers an alternative called “experientialism” – the pursuit of happiness and living a meaningful life through experiences rather than stuff.

I was reminded of Wallman’s principles when I was having a ‘clear-out’ last weekend.  The realisation came to me that the more I threw out the ‘lighter’ and more liberated I felt.

I also recognised that I was already worrying about all the new ‘stuff’ we would collect over the festive period and where we would put it all.  After all we are a family of 5 (plus two cats!) in a terrace house in south-east London – space is definitely at a premium.  Now I don’t want to sound ungrateful.  Gratitude is a cornerstone of Mindfulness and I appreciate how especially generous my nearest and dearest are at this time of year.   However, I can’t get away from the fact that I do spend lots of my time clearing out and trying to get rid of ‘stuff’ that is cluttering up the house.  And I don’t think I am alone in this.

So rather than my usual ‘smash and grab’ approach to Christmas shopping I am going to approach the process more mindfully this year.  My mission will be to try not to add to any ‘stuffocation’ that my family and friends may also already be feeling.

So far I have come up with these ideas for adults:afternoontea

  • Afternoon tea:  this year instead of getting gifts for each other two friends and I decided to have afternoon tea together at a  (fairly) posh London hotel.  For the same price we usually spend on each other for Christmas we had a lovely afternoon catching up with each other and enjoying some delicious treats too!
  • A magazine subscription: for a few years now I have been receiving the Red magazine every month and I love getting it through the post on a regular basis.  This is a real treat and something that brings a little bit of joy to your recipient time and again!
  • Family membership to the National Trust (or something equivalent that is local to the person you are gifting to): we love our days out to National Trust places close by to us.  These encourage us to get outdoors and enjoy mindful moments and mindful walks together.  We get to go to these places courtesy of my in-laws purchasing the membership for us at Christmas every year.  Other places in our area that do family memberships that we are tempted to buy for friends and family are the Royal Greenwich Museums and Penshurst Place.

    Ightham Mote: our last visit to a National Trust estate this November

  • A charitable donation: I think we all mean to donate a little more to charity than we actually do and so this is a lovely gift to give a busy person who may want to practice a bit more ‘kindfulness’ .  It’s thoughtful to consider a charity a person may have a particular affinity with and then donate to this on their behalf writing a very personal explanation in a card.  Some charities to consider donating to for people may be the NSPCC, Bliss or MIND.

Do you think you may be suffering from ‘stuffocation’ yourself?

Do you know others who may be ‘stuffocation’?

What are your thoughts about buying things that aren’t STUFF for people fo Christmas?

By the way happy December everyone! xx

Diary of An Imperfect Mum



  1. December 3, 2016 / 10:33 am

    This is the best Christmas gift list I’ve read yet. I recently had my birthday and my friends and family have cottoned on to the fact I don’t like ‘stuff’ and bought me vouchers for a nice dinner out and a pamper day.
    I’ve never heard of stuffocation but I love the sound of this book! I’ll have to request it at my library. I’ll let you know what I think 😀

    • December 3, 2016 / 8:55 pm

      Yay – I think you’ll like it. Thanks so much for the lovely comment xx

      • December 3, 2016 / 10:38 pm

        It’s on order at my library and won’t be here till Jan so I bought it. I had promised myself that I wouldn’t buy anymore books (you know, to keep my stuff to a minimum!) but I think I’ll like this one 😀

        • December 4, 2016 / 8:45 pm

          Yes it is ironic to be buying a book about ‘stuff’ but it is worth it and you can always then pass it on to a friend afterwards 🙂 xx

  2. December 6, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    My Nan and grandad used to do a tradition that we get given something small but useful and then treated to either a ballet or musical show. Maybe that caused me to want useless rubbish and made me become someone who hoards everything!!! Haha.
    I love the idea of afternoon tea but I must admit to loving to open a present rather than an envelope #globalblogging

    • December 6, 2016 / 10:04 pm

      Hee hee – nothing wrong with loving a present as long as you saviour opening it and feel grateful to the giver afterwards 😉 x

  3. December 6, 2016 / 7:30 pm

    I’m constantly getting rid of the odd thing here and there. Love that these gifts offer experiences. #GlobalBlogging

  4. December 6, 2016 / 7:30 pm

    I’m constantly getting rid of the odd thing here and there. Love that these gifts offer experiences. #GlobalBlogging

  5. December 14, 2016 / 10:07 am

    Oh we struggle with the endless clutter too! We have requested smaller items for Christmas this year and for oursleves we brought a new dining table! #eatsleepblogrt

    • December 14, 2016 / 8:35 pm

      New dining room table sounds very sensible and I’m sure you’ll end up making lots of happy memories round it xx

  6. December 20, 2016 / 1:04 am

    These are great ideas. I just love the idea of having tea in a posh restaurant! Such a spoil! I must admit I really need to get decluttering, but it doesn’t seem to go with being pregnant. I feel like I have accumulated so much STUFF this year. Can’t wait to get rid of most of it! Thank you for sharing with #globalblogging

    • December 20, 2016 / 8:51 pm

      Ah yes STUFF does tend to come hand in hand with small babies… and you’re nesting now – congrats on the pregnancy btw and thanks for the nice comment. xx

  7. December 3, 2017 / 5:56 am

    I love this. I think we all have too much stuff, because how much of a norm it is in our society. Clearing out in our house is needed monthly otherwise It just accumulates. I never thought it could be stressing me out, but now that I think of it, it definitely does. The appearance of my living room stresses me out sometimes. It’s a process, but so important. #thesatsesh

  8. December 4, 2017 / 7:36 pm

    #thesatsesh Doing something similar to this without realising it was ‘suffocation’ although think i need to read the book? sounds interesting. This year I’ve bought the family experiences with us….soon we are off to the theatre with the grandparents, afternoon tea with my mumma (no boys allowed) and so the list of non stuff continues and the memories build.

    • onamindfulmummymission
      December 4, 2017 / 7:50 pm

      Yay! I love the sound of the afternoon tea just you and your mum. Enjoy! Xx

  9. December 8, 2017 / 1:23 pm

    Great ideas, I would love any of these gifts. I definitely don’t need anymore ‘stuff’!

  10. December 9, 2017 / 12:38 am

    <3 I love this post, your ideas for gifts, and feel lighter just thinking of what I will shed, starting tomorrow! The great big clean up and clean out so we can become un-stuffocated. BTW, I may have to get that book, at the library of course! xoxo #Thesatsesh xoxo

    • onamindfulmummymission
      December 9, 2017 / 9:10 pm

      Yay to becoming unstuffocated! Yep get it at the library – a good read! xx

Leave a Reply