Tag Archives: gifts

Wedding Registries and the Pile of Boxes in My Living Room Corner

Thank you profusely to all the kind wedding guests who have sent me a gift for my bridal shower in advance of my upcoming nuptials. Thank you for going to my online registry and selecting a gift that I already picked out from a store like Macys or William and Sonoma and purchasing it and having it delivered to my apartment. Suddenly, I’ve gone from having no quality household items to a smorgasbord of things I want, need, and thought might be interesting to own that I don’t actually need that fit that golden present cost requirement of “around $30-$50” so everything on my registry wouldn’t be too expensive and offensive.

Thank you for the china that I asked for – it’s beautiful – and likely will be about half of the items I will need for a complete set due to how these things work out – so then I have the choice to either return the china to get something I actually really need and feel guilty that I’m returning your gifts (that, mind you, I asked for) or keep it and somehow find the money to buy the rest of the set after the most expensive year of my life (and, thank you for reminding me that I get a special extra 10% off discount six months after my wedding to buy anything that wasn’t purchased on my registry – that will not actually help me afford these items.) Also, thank you for suggesting I use any cash I do get for my wedding to complete the registry because all the bills for the actual wedding will be paid for with fairy dust.

Thank you for avoiding the items on my registry which I actually need but are rather bland or unladylike to purchase (buying knives for a bridal shower seems so unromantic.) Thank you for the fancy measuring cups and vegetable cutting contraptions and vases and towels and wine glasses. Thank you for taking me serious when I put items on my registry I clearly don’t need when I live in a household with two plates and a thousand steak knives and a few random pots I purchased at Target when I moved into my own apartment 10 years ago. Thank you for all these beautiful gifts I will likely exchange for things I actually need because the reality is I have no where to put all these items I don’t need at the moment. My apartments is small and I’m not sure what to do with all this amazing stuff that I asked for but didn’t realize the consequences of getting.

Thank you for the piles of boxes at my door everyday I get home which should be exciting but instead are a tall pile of doom in which I must identify another spot in my living room in which to store these items which likely will go back to the store eventually when I have time to get around to it and be turned into a nice set of pots and pans.

Thank you for registries not allowing you to ask for either a complete set of something or individual items so either you have a set that a group of guests can go in together to purchase that is quite expensive or individual items that seem too expensive on their own for a group to buy even though they’re what I actually want (hey, good knives are expensive.)

Thank you for editing registries after two shots of whiskey and the brilliant idea to put about five different knife sets and individual knives on my registry to see if any lovely friend out there will get the hint that the most appreciated gift of all would be some high-quality cooking knives that I one day will likely slice off one of my fingers with due to their high-quality sharpness. Thank you to wedding registries for being outdated yet the best option since the various “cash funds” online all take a percentage of the gift which is a waste of money – i.e. honey fund, down payment funds, etc and it’s still considered rude to ask for cash.

Thank you to all of the people I invited who sent me gifts who can’t come to any of my wedding festivities as you won’t get to partake in the celebration or enjoy the food or band and you still sent me a gift and I feel guilty about that but thank you that’s very kind of you.

And now, back to the pile boxes.

Hanukah and the Consumer Holidays

Happy Hanukkah to my Jewish friends out in cyberspace. This time of year always reminds me of why I’m an ardent capitalist wishing I was less of a consumer. If religion wasn’t bad enough, we need to give ourselves one time of year when we have to give gifts to everyone we love. Well, we don’t have to, but for many close relatives and friends, if they give you a gift you kind of have to return the favor.

I remember that one year in middle school when I was determined that buying people gifts would make them like me (oh, have I mentioned I was the odd kid out always?) I had a few close friends, but mostly all my friends and acquaintances blurred and I found it extremely difficult to determine who would get a pair of earrings from me and who wouldn’t. So I had a long list of all the people who A) I was friends with, B) Who were nice to me and C) who I wanted to be friends with and who weren’t total assholes to me. And all of them got gifts. I can’t believe my mom let me do that. Each gift was on the cheap side, but regardless I didn’t need to get gifts for half of the school chorus. It didn’t change what they thought of me.

Nowadays, I am a lot more realistic on the giving end. My family doesn’t really exchange gifts except one cousins gift exchange which I’ve opted out of this year. My parents don’t get me gifts ever (even for my birthday) unless I buy myself something and request to be reimbursed. And I don’t buy my parents anything either usually… for their birthday, Hanukkah, or any holiday — mostly because they have so much and I have no idea what to buy them. My mom always says she wants jewelery but anything you get her she’ll have something negative to say about it. I have no idea what to get for my dad. What do you get a man who’s dying of cancer? Well, I’d like to get him a trip to Italy, but even for me that’s an expensive gift to buy someone who may not be able to go… he has to be around for his doctors appointments.

I usually buy my boyfriend something in the $100 range. Last year I didn’t get him a Christmas gift but then I got him a $550 birthday gift (guitar) so that was more or less his Christmas and birthday gift. Unlike buying gifts for my family, I like to buy gifts for my boyfriend because he’s always appreciative. I usually get him something he’s hinted at that he wants, but this year I got him something that he hasn’t asked for… even so, I know he’ll be thankful for whatever I give him regardless of the cost or what it is. He’s a good guy like that.

When I have kids, I want to make sure they understand that gifts should always be appreciated. Also, I don’t know how much gift giving we’ll do in the family. Gifting is a waste of money to some degree, unless you buy something useful. But how many kids love to get socks for Hanukkah or Christmas every year? Toys are the biggest waste of all. If anything I’d gift my kids something that would spark their creativity, or books, or an extracurricular activity. I guess there are some toys that are worth while, but the last time I walked into a Toys ‘r Us I felt incredibly dirty looking at the prices of toys these days. Who pays that much for junk? Lots of people.

I don’t even remember what I got for the holidays growing up except a few items… a beautiful amethyst and marquisette bracelet from my grandmother, money towards a keyboard from my aunt, and, well, that’s about all I remember.

What makes a good gift to a friend or family member for the holidays? How about for a child? And what was your favorite gift that you received growing up?

Boyfriend’s Birthday Gift… Late, and $100 Cheaper

This year I wanted to get my boyfriend something special for his birthday this year. He has been mentioning how much he wants a guitar every other second, so I figured that would be a good, useful gift to get him. But I know nothing about guitars. My only requirements were that it had to be electric and blue, and cost anywhere from $300 to $600.

With a little research I learned that decent guitars start out at $1200 (Fender American Strat) but as much as I love my boyfriend, I wasn’t going to spend that much on his birthday gift. Instead, I did a little more research. I didn’t want to buy him a crappo guitar, so I figured I’d spend $700 at most if I could find something decent.

That led me to the Epiphone Les Paul Standard Plus. Knowing nothing of the difference between Gibsons and Fenders, other than the name, the price and reviews seemed right. I looked for it online and found it for $650 w/ free shipping and a one year warranty. I was sold. So I ordered it.

Something went wrong with my order and I’m glad it did. When I went back to reorder it, I found they put it on sale and it was $100 cheaper. Their loss, my gain. Spending $550 was much better than the original $650 pricetag.

The guitar is scheduled to arrive anyday now, but I’m worried I made a stupid move in buying such a pricey gift that may or may not be a good guitar for him. Granted, he’s never played guitar before, but a guitar is such a personal thing and he really should go shopping for one. But he didn’t want another gift certificate (how boring) and wanted to be surprised with an actual gift. I also didn’t get him a Christmas gift so I could save up for a bigger gift for his birthday. And I’m sure he’ll love it as far as concept and overall open impact goes, but the guitar may not be right for him.

I think I should have went with the Fender, even though it’s like, double the price. He’s more of a classic rock kind of guy and upon watching some videos on YouTube about the Fender versus Gibson/ Epiphone, the Fender sounds right for him. Ugh. Well, I guess we can return it (shipping it back will be a bitch though) and he can trade up to the Fender if he wants.

Do any of you know about guitars? Is the Ephiphone Les Paul Standard Plus a decent purchase for a newbie player who likes 60s rock?

Type rest of the post here

Last Minute (Frugal) Gift Ideas

It’s that time of the year again. Men are dressed up as Santa and sitting in malls. Kids are spinning dreidels and being schooled in gambling (for chocolate coins). And bank accounts everywhere are being drained on gifts for friends and family.

This year, with the economy in the South Pole, it’s more important than ever to be cost-efficient with your holiday gift purchases. Thanks to the Internet and the awesome PF Blog community, gift ideas that won’t break your bank account are aplenty.

My Dollar Plan offers 16 last-minute frugal gift ideas under $20. From lottery tickets to gas, if you want to splurge a bit you can pick up both en route to a holiday party, all while rejoicing that it doesn’t cost an arm, leg and foot to fill up your tank anymore. For 50 more frugal gift ideas, head over to Bible Money Finance. BeingFrugal breaks affordable gift-giving down into what to give particular types of people (your girlfriend and grandma really shouldn’t get the same gift, even if you are being frugal.)

When you’re going cheap, the best thing you can do is be creative and unique. That’s why I love this post on Squawkfox filled with 10 frugal handmade gift ideas (and pictures of what they should look like, so you know you’re doing it right). The Frugal Family Fun Blog also has a few homemade gift ideas, though some require an education curve that you might not have time for (ie: knitting). They also led me to a post on Good Housekeeping offering cheap and easy food gifts (that look really nice. Check out their curried lental soup, yum!)

Whatever you make, don’t waste money on wrapping paper! Head on over to Frugal Zeitgeist for a lesson in gift wrapping on the cheap. Sqauwkfox also has some frugal gift wrapping insight.

Q & you A:

What frugal/affordable/not-ridiculously expensive gifts are you giving this holiday season?

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received that hasn’t cost the giver a small fortune?

My Boyfriend’s Birthday is Coming Up…

And I’m at a loss for what to get him.

The good news is that with the raise, I’ll be able to spend a decent sum of money on his gift without feeling like the expenditure is a completely irrational budget departure.

The bad news is that my raise won’t kick in until March 20, a few weeks after his birthday. I get paid once a month, fyi. I will get one more paycheck before his birthday for $3300. But $1050 of that has to go to rent, and $600 must go to my “for tax” ING account. That still leave me with about $1500 for the month. Even with my various bills, I could try to keep spending down really low and figure his birthday gift is worth more than any splurges I might partake in over the month.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that I still don’t know WHAT to get him.

I feel like I need to get him something amazing. I totally flaked on Valentine’s Day this year and got him, well, nothing. For Christmas I gave him a $100 gift certificate to a rollerblading store so he could buy a pair of Blades (he did and he seems to like them).

How do I get him something better than last year’s gift? Last year, I got him a Nintendo Wii. Without spending a zillion dollars, well, what do I get the boy?

He’s gotten me such great gifts over our dating tenure. An ipod nano and a Wacom digital drawing tablet. He got me a smaller gift for Hannukah… a food scale… I figure it cost $30 or something. But for Valentine’s Day he bought food for a home cooked dinner… fish and champagne. Again, I got him noting. Absolutely nothing.

So what do I get him this year? I have less than a month to figure this out. I love him more than anything and I know he’d be fine with me getting him dirt in the shape of a heart, but I want to give him more than that. I want to get him something he wouldn’t normally buy for himself. But what would that be? He’s so hard to shop for.

What do nerdy boys like?

This Post is Brought to You By the Letter "Y" – Yoga and Yams

Y seems to be the letter of the day. I attempted to not look like a fool at a Yoga class at the gym, and now I’m attempting to bake a Yam. I’m not sure if it’s working.

This week is a bit weird because I’m working from home without any office visits, so I tend to make the most out of my days enjoying the sunlight (or watching daytime television) and then I stay up until the wee hours of the morning getting work done (I’ll be doing that tonight.)

First thing today, I went to meet with a photographer I met on model mayhem. Every once in a while I like to model for fun. By no means do I look like a typical model (I’m short and a wee bit stumpy), but I photograph decently and some photographers don’t mind taking photographs of girls who look more like girls and less like giraffes. I saw his work online and it was impressive… plus he lives a few towns over, so it’s easy to get to his studio. We scheduled a shoot for tomorrow for some basic headshots. Modeling is a fun, free activity that I can do to keep myself entertained every once and again. Not all photographers are willing to shoot for free, but a lot of students (or older hobbyists trying to build up portfolios) are willing to do TFP (time for print) trades. It’s a pretty good deal, especially since if you want nice photos otherwise you’d have to pay a lot of money. I need some new headshots for this show I’m directing in a few months, and headshots I shall be getting. Hopefully they will be nice.

After the brief meeting with the photographer, I made a pit stop at the mall (shouldn’t have done that!) to find a shirt to wear for the photoshoot tomorrow. I spent way too much time trying on anything half decent in Macy’s and Nordstrom, and then settled on a cute fushica psuedo wrap by Matty M. The only photo they have of it online is in blue (I almost bought the blue one too, but I restrained myself to one overpriced shirt for the day).

Following my impromptu bad-decision shopping adventure, I headed to the library to photocopy a bunch of old doctors bills and other things that needed copying in order to get reimbursed for things and apply for the California High Risk Pool insurance.

While I was copying my denial letter from Pacific Care, I noticed that on the second page (that I hadn’t read) it noted the actual reason for my denial (drumroll please): irregular periods.

Oh, come on. Most women I know have irregular periods. Either they’re really heavy, or absent for a while and then show up at random times. Ok, so for me, they never show up. But still, that wasn’t noted on my application.


Anyway, following my short stay at the library, I met up with my bf at my house, and we went to the gym to try out the Hatha Yoga class they had. Both of us are Yoga newbies (though I’ve taken a few classes before since my Aunt works in the Yoga industry). He was in a bad mood and didn’t want to go, but I made him come with me since we had planned on attending the class.

It was an ok class. I didn’t really know what to expect of a yoga class at a big gym. We did a couple of poses, I stretched myself in ways that hurt like a bitch, and during the meditation part of the class I couldn’t “concentrate on my inner being” with all of the loud weight slamming noises puncturing the soothing Zen soundtrack our French-with-thick-accent Yoga instructor had put on while our eyes were closed.

After Yoga, I tried to motivate myself to do some other actual exercise at the gym. I did a shoulder press thing and a rowing exercise, and then my nagging boyfriend made me leave. Oh well.

We stopped at Whole Foods on the way home, where I grabbed the Yam (brilliant realization of the day — sweet potatoes are yams!), a few apples (yeay, pink laddy apples were on sale) and enough kiwis to last a week.

Then I came home and started to bake this yam, following the instructions of a few random internet recipes. Aluminum foil, oven to 400 degrees, an hour of baking, how hard can it be?

Well, that seems to be the problem. My Yam is still very, very hard. It smells good though. I should check on it now and see how it’s doing.

Oh, speaking of cooking, I’m very excited about the gift my boyfriend bought me for the holidays — a food scale! I can weigh all of my portions, so I know I’m not going overboard. It’s really a marvelous contraption. I’m such a born again healthgeektard that I’m practically in love with the thing.

Alright, time to check on the giant yam.

Cousin Gifting

The gift-giving went over well today. Being as I’m obsessed with finding the perfect gift, I should have left myself more time to wander around Target before I had to make the hour-long drive up to my aunt & uncle’s house in the North Bay. But, alas, I never leave myself enough time to do anything (and that’s why I’m up at 3:30am finishing up freelance projects and taking a break to blog and wake myself up a bit).

So I was late to dinner, but I think I made up for my tardiness with the gifts. I got my cousins (age 4 and 6) a kid’s acoustic guitar and a keyboard. They were not too expensive, about $35 each with tax, and they actually seemed to be of fairly decent quality for kid’s toy instruments.

I was really anxious about my aunt hating the gifts. She’s the one who told me that the kids “have everything” and that she doesn’t want any gifts that would be annoying to clean up (or, I assume, make a lot of noise.)

But being that she’s a musical-type, I figured I couldn’t go too wrong with musical instruments. And lucky for me, she loved the gifts. The kids seemed pretty excited about them too, though I forgot to get batteries for the keyboard (doh).

A few minutes after I gave the kids the gifts, my aunt handed me my “belated birthday gift” — a check for $50. I really didn’t want to take it. I mean, I can use the cash, of course, but it almost felt like I was being reimbursed for buying her kids gifts.

I wish I came from a family that gave actual gifts. The check is fine, money is good, but… it’d be nice to get a gift certificate for a spa or something… so I’d be forced to spend the money and not put it away into savings.

Wait… that’s bad logic.

Gift Giving and Buying

Growing up, I had a really unhealthy perception of the meaning of gifts. First off, I felt like I ‘deserved’ some amazing gift just because my parents got me everything I wanted that wasn’t completely amazing, and they’d never get me what I really wanted – a keyboard, an expensive designer barbie doll, voice lessons, etc. Rarely did I get these things as gifts (from family, friends), but every other gift seemed like a bore.

When it came to gift giving, I needed to give the biggest (or at the least the best.) Let me back-phrase this by noting I was a huge loner up until high school… more because I was a bit hyperactive and curious and no one my age knew what to do with me (except for my somewhat abusive “friend,” but that’s another story). In Middle School, for some reason I decided that I had to buy gifts for dozens upon dozens of people who were more or less acquaintances. I had a lot of acquaintances due to being involved with chorus and the school play. So I went to Claires (the accessories shop) and spent about $7 a gift (of my parent’s money). $7 a gift for 60 people… adds up fast.

Back then, a part of me felt like I might be able to buy the chance at a friendship. Not only did I just buy these people gifts, but I thought long and hard about what they’d like and picked out the perfect size and shape of jewelery for them. That was one of the most fulfilling moments of all my childhood – buying gifts, with my parents money, for people who either didn’t care about me or found me to be annoying.

Years later, my whole perception on gift giving has changed. I’ve realized that gifts are definitely more about the ‘thought,’ and that people understand you can’t buy every single person you’ve ever met a holiday gift.

It’s hard to figure out how much to spend on gifts, though. I have a few good friends… and they deserve zillion dollar gifts, with airfare, but alas, I’m no richie. I also am a bit of a miser, as I hate spending money. My money. Part of that is reasonable (I have $25k in savings thanks to a broken arm lawsuit from 6th grade, which is a lot, and yet not that much… because I’m freelancing and health care is expensive and I really want to go back to grad school to study design which will cost me something like $100k and I want to save up for that BEFORE I go if at all possible)… and part of that is me not really understanding money.

My boyfriend and I often exchange expensive gifts. I didn’t expect for that to be the case, but in our relationship my birthday came up first and he got me an iPod… and dinner. He likes spending money on other people… and one day when he has a substantial amount I’m sure his gifts would be even more impressive. He’s a total 180 from my last boyfriend, who… with a salary of 135k a year (he’s an attorney… and he finished law school with $0 in loans, thanks to a little bit of savings and mostly his parents), wouldn’t think to buy me a gift any more expensive than what I might be able to afford for him.

I wonder how much religion and culture plays into all of this. Jews are stereotyped as “stingy,” and I think that might be true. I’m Jewish, culturally, and my ex was also Jewish. My current boyfriend is pretty much agnostic, although he was raised somewhat Christian.

In any case, gift giving is so different these days. I can handle exchanging gifts with my boyfriend but even that causes such anxiety. After he bought me the ipod, I knew I had to top it. (See, why did I HAVE to “TOP” it?) So I bought him a Nintendo Wii (which I had every intention of playing.) This year, he’s revamped the expensive gift tradition, buying me a Wacom tablet. Now, I wouldn’t have bought this graphic design tool for myself, although it’s really wonderful to have for my job and hobby. His birthday is coming up in march, wtf do I get him?

Meanwhile, today I have to buy gifts for my two cousins that live locally. My mom is supposedly reimbursing me for these gifts, since they’re from her. But I’d like to get the kidlets gifts as well. They have just about everything, according to their mother, so I don’t know what to get them. Right now they’re young enough that they just enjoy opening gifts and quickly forget what it is they’ve received. But being me… I want to get them a brilliant gift, something that will encourage creativity and/or help grow their young minds.

Therefore, today will be spent freaking out about finding the perfect gift for my cousins. I also have to buy a $50 gift for one of my cousins in New Jersey, as I’m part of this giant Hannukah gift exchange that will take place at a party on Dec 15 that I won’t be able to attend. I have no clue what to get him.

I really think that when it comes to gifts, it is the thought that counts. I sometimes wish my boyfriend was a bit more creative in his gift-ing (although I do love my iPod and tablet) because I end up telling him I really want these things for weeks before my birthday and then he gets them for me. It’s kind of weird. I’m not used to that. I guess a lot of guys do that for their girlfriends? I’m too much of an unlabeled feminist to let that be one way, though.

Well, it’s time to go gift shopping.