Tag Archives: gifts

November 30: Tips For Gift-Giving

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life.

In my ideal world, everyone on my Christmas list would want exactly the same thing or variations of the exact same thing (candles for all!) and that “perfect” item would be reasonably priced or on sale.  Obviously this isn’t the case.  And I’m not the best person to give gift-giving advice.  I often forget special occasions and I have set very low expectations with family and friends in this area.  See this post for clarification

However, even I hold on to the notion of finding that perfect gift, which makes me procrastinate and adds unnecessary stress during the holiday season.  If you’re a busy 9-to-5’er like me, how do you simplify gift-giving?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Look at Gift Guides: Many websites and catalogues put together a suggested Gift List based on recipients and sometimes price levels.  I find J. Crew’s guide very useful though pricey.  If you don’t want to stick to one company or store, a lot of magazines, blogs (and websites) compile gift lists from several sources.  Francophile? Looking for something unique?  Lots of kids, nephews or nieces? Gifts for do-gooders? On a budget?  There are gift guides and ideas out there for everybody.
  2. Just pull the trigger and buy:  All too often, I have a good gift idea but I hesitate to buy just in case I think of something better. Before you know it, it’s the last weekend before Christmas and I have to run to the mall.
  3. Speaking of malls, think outside the box for gifts: You can avoid the malls altogether by looking for gift options elsewhere.  There are some nice items at Starbucks or grocery stores.   This will help you avoid one of the major holiday stressors: crowds and parking lots!
  4. Give Food: Everyone loves to eat, right? I’m not talking about the generic cheese  and cracker basket.  You can select one based on a person’s preference whether it’s for Italian foods, vegan, meats, fruits or something more exotic. To personalize it more, throw in a cookbook or recipe.
  5. Magazine Subscriptions:  There are magazines for every possible area of interest from cat lovers to fashion to cars.  The recipient will get a monthly reminder of your thoughtfulness!
  6. Nothing Wrong with Gift cards (or cold hard cash): I think many people don’t want to give cash so gift cards are a good substitute. In my family, it sometimes becomes a gift card exchange (here’s your Target gift card. thanks. here’s your Kohls gift card. thanks!) but it’s the thought that counts. Just be sure to pick a gift card from the recipient actually shops at that store!

Of course there are always “those people” who seem impossible to shop for yet want gifts.  My Dad is one of those.  I never have any idea what to give him…If you’re “one of those” who have everything you want or few hobbies, please do people a favor and give suggestions (if asked of course)!

Is holiday gift giving stressful for you? Do you try to find the perfect gift for people on your list? What are your favorite gift-giving shortcuts?


August 10: Gifts

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

Can gift giving really be simple? There are so many occasions to remember and people to please (some easier than others), not to mention budget considerations!

Here are my simple/slacker types for making gift-giving easier.

  1. Cultivate a reputation as a “bad” gift giver: No, you don’t want to give inconsiderate gifts like a barbecue cookbook to a vegetarian, but it may be worthwhile to set the bar relatively low so that people don’t expect great gifts from you.
  2. Don’t Wrap:  Just throw everything in big bags or put a bow on top.
  3. Shop Online: Not only does this save you driving time, a lot of websites can give you good recommendations based on gender, age, occasion, etc..  This can be very helpful when you’re desperate.
  4. Buy off the registry: No thought process here.
  5. Forget birthdays? Is this an option?
  6. Treat a person:  It’s often easier to take a person out to dinner/lunch or a spa day instead of trying to find that perfect gift. 
  7. A thought on generic gifts: If you receive slippers, candles, perfumes, calendars, or bath soaps, it means the gift-giver has no idea what to give you or you’re someone who isn’t easy to shop for.  Give that person a break and suggest going out instead!

Some people advise planning ahead such as keeping a list so that you can buy gifts when you spot something that a certain person would love (say buy a “perfect” Christmas gift in July).  If you’re that organized, go for it.  I just can’t think that far ahead!

Do you have good tips on gift-giving?

June 8: Different Tips for Different Types of People

Every Wednesday, I’ll (try) to post up a Simple Living Tip, with an emphasis on tips that can be done while living a more traditional 9-to-5 life. 

It just occurred to me that my simple living tips tend to work better for introverts simply because I am one.  However, even I struggle with my own advice at times.  For example, an easy suggestion is to just say “no” to social invites.  Yet, sometimes I feel too isolated and this would definitely not work for extroverts or anyone who just loves a full social calendar.

A woman I know seems to have family gatherings every other weekend and it’s obvious stressful for her.    My normal advice would be to pick and choose events if she needs downtime. However, this probably won’t work for many reasons.  Family events are not something she can easily avoid, her children might spill the beans by accident, and she is somewhat of a social butterfly.   So I thought I would give dual advices for different situations:

1) Too many social engagements

Advice for introverts: Pick and choose, only go to those that are really important to you and decline the rest.  You don’t have to go to every wedding or kid birthday party. Lie if you have to (i.e. migraines, colds, allergies, bad back etc..)

Advice for extroverts:  There’s not much you can do here.  Just go to every event but try to keep things simple in other areas (i.e. have a standard dish you bring to every potluck or sign up to bring drinks or paper plates)

2) Too many gifts to buy

Advice for introverts: Even if you decline most invitations, you may still have to send a gift.  Either come up with a stash of good hostess / host gifts that many people will enjoy or embrace a reputation as a so-so gift giver.  If you do come up with the occasional “perfect” gift, all the better !  You can also opt out of gift exchanges altogether or do the “draw a name” approach, which works well for larger families.

Advice for extroverts:  Most likely, you enjoy getting and receiving good gifts. I would recommend buying an item immediately if you think of someone who might love it.   It may seem strange to buy a birthday gift for someone months ahead of time but trust me, when that special occasion arrives, you’ll be happy that you’re NOT scrambling to find a good gift.  Other possible simple life suggestion: Don’t wrap. Put everything in a nice paper gift bag.

3) Too much Social Networking

Advice for introverts:  Opt out. 

Advice for extroverts: Can’t stand the thought of not knowing where your friends and family are or what they’re doing? Keep your Facebook account but try checking in and updating less often. 

4) Too Many Hobbies

Advice for introverts:  Pick one, probably something like reading, gardening or yoga to re-connect with self. 

Advice for extroverts:  Pick one or two activities that combine your interests with social interaction. Take a class with your spouse.   Exercise with your best buddies.

5) Too Much To Do For Wedding (or Event Planning)

Advice for introverts:  Elope.  Don’t plan anything. If you do want to have a wedding, see below advice for extroverts.

Advice for extroverts:  Weddings deserve its own post but for now I’ll give some hints: Delegate, It’s no big deal, no one will remember the flower centerpiece.

If you’re extroverted but want to keep it simple, how do you manage? Is Simple Living more difficult for extroverts?

Simple Living…The Best Gift I’ve Ever Received

With Christmas only weeks away, I’m sure gift-giving is on everybody’s minds.  My husband and I don’t go overboard but one particular gift stands out in my mind and will always be one of my favorites…

The best gift I’ve ever gotten is a beautiful, white Pottery Barn-style bathroom cabinet that my husband gave me for my birthday.  It is well-built with clean lines that complement modern and traditional decor.   Some girls love diamonds, some love roses, I love anything for our home!  However, this wasn’t just a new expensive item from a pricey store.  This was a special gift because my husband knew how much I hated the the worn-0ut fake-wood cabinet in our bathroom AND how tired I was of the brightly colored bathroom walls.  Before hanging up the new cabinet, he also repainted the walls an elegant blue-gray color. 

The irony is that when friends or family asked what I got that birthday, I never tell them about the cabinet.  Neither does my husband (when asked what he bought me for my birthday).  That’s because he got the cabinet for FREE from craigslist.  The monetary value of this gift does increase if you factor in paint and labor, as you might know if you’ve ever paid anyone to hang up cabinets and paint a room!   It’s not that he hasn’t bought me other more expensive gifts or that he couldn’t afford to buy something.  It’s just that replacing a cabinet is low priority if we’re renting.  Yet knowing how much I’d love this item, he jumped at the opportunity to get it for me. 

Oh, he also treated me to a nice dinner at an Italian pizzeria.  Even on an anonymous blog, I want to make sure we don’t seem too frugal!