Here's the other side of yesterday's conundrum: If I'm not asking for charity donations in lieu of a gift, then what do I ask for as a birthday present? I'm not saying I'm against gifts. I like receiving thoughtful gifts that are meaningful to both myself and the giver. It doesn't have to be the Perfect Present. It can just be something where the person said, "Hey, I saw this and it reminded me of you. I hope you like it."
The only problem with this strategy is that many gift-givers, I'm sure, would find it frustrating. Not everyone enjoys coming up with gift ideas. Or there's people I don't see every day that might not always have the best sense of what I am currently interested in / need / use. I understand that certain personalities find choosing a gift to be more of a trial than enjoyable, or have a million things to do and really just need a little help with ideas. So me suggesting, "Oh, just pick up something meaningful!" would be the equivalent of poking the potential giver in the eye with a sharp stick.
On the other hand, I am trying somewhat to de-clutter my life. I don't want a lot of new STUFF that needs to find a home in my house. But how can one get gifts without getting stuff?
This leads me to the conclusion that I should ask for gift cards—specifically, gift cards for services. Like maybe a pedicure; I've never had one, but now that my baby bump is growing daily and it's a monumental effort to reach my toes for more than 2 seconds, I think it could be a welcome option. Or for a haircut—my parents gave me a gift card for a haircut at Christmas and I loved it. Or can I even ask someone to take me out for drinks/snacks? Can I suggest that spending time with them be part of the gift? I don't want to be overly demanding, but if I'm close enough to someone that they'd consider getting me a birthday gift, they're probably someone that I'd like to sit and talk with.
What do you think as a gift giver and receiver? What is acceptable practice? Conversely, what are your pet peeves?