Thursday, December 06, 2012

Your Thoughts On Gift Giving?

I'm not a good gift giver.  It's not because of my frugal-ness, it's just how I grew up and it's not my love language.  Growing up, my mom was very practical and that's how I feel I am too.  I like to give and get practical gifts.  Kai needs a new toothbrush?  Happy birthday! (kinda true, I'd just find one that he liked like a Star Wars one which by the way HELP ME FIND ONE FOR CHRISTMAS!!).  I'm a big words of affirmation kind of person.  Gary knows that I appreciate a thoughtful hand written note more than any other gift.  For real. You would think that would be an easy one...:)

Giving gifts stresses me out because what the heck do you give someone????  I don't want to get them something they don't like.  I'm a people pleaser and so this can end up causing me stress because I spend too much time trying to figure out what to get them.  So then I feel like it ends up being a waste of time and money.  If you tell me something very specific, like the exact name of a novel, no problemo. I'm on it.

And, the scrooge part of me.  MY KIDS HAVE SO MANY TOYS AND CLOTHES AND BOOKS AND GAMES AND DON'T NEED ANYTHING ELSE. So, why would I buy them even more?  I did get them some things for Christmas but I feel much better about contributing to a Christmas hamper for a family that is in need.  Which is what I'm doing (that's my dad and Joanne's present, giving to someone in need).  I'm also getting the boys to pick an item each from the Compassion pamphlet to donate to a child/family in need.

I know what to get my sisters. Easy.  Dinner gift card and me as a babysitter.  Seriously, it's what all 5 of us want.  A date with our husbands and a babysitter provided.  Gary and I are finally going on our first date in 5 months on Sunday.  Well, he better get better soon so we actually enjoy it.  It was our Christmas gift to each other LAST Christmas.  For my side of the family, we just swap names to get another couple in the family and then we only have to buy for one couple.

Oh ya, back to gifts....I do think experiences are often better gifts.  My friend Terri is good at that.  For birthdays Kai has gotten tickets to a baseball game and to Playland (thank you Terri!).  Don't buy my kids anything, take them out for dinner or spend time with them!  In regards to being practical, my friend Ali gave me a nice box of kleenexes with a sweet note attached when my mom died (I know that sounds weird but it was thoughtful and useful and memorable:)!).

Also, I feel like in our family, I buy things when people need/want them.  Yes, Gary could've gotten his lens for Christmas but he wanted it two months ago.  Done.

Anyway, how do you feel about giving and getting gifts?  Does it stress you out or do you love it? What is the best gift you have ever received?


  1. Kristin (Heinen)8:29 PM

    I love reading your blog Louise. We are so similar, and sometimes when you talk about Gary, I feel like it's my relationship! haha. all in good ways :)
    I'm very much the same way on gift giving. I don't want to disappoint people! I would hate feeling like someone didn't like the gift that I give. And practical gifts are great, except then I feel like I'm not being thoughtful enough! Glad to know I'm not the only one out there who feels this way!

  2. Can't stand gifts. So much would rather had time together. If you know what someone wants, its so much more exciting to give it to them non-Xmas/bday times. Plus we don't need anything but I feel ungrateful if I give it back.

    The one part I do like is the celebration and feeling special on bday. Forget the gifts and bake a cake together?

    Love your date idea. So much nicer! Better gift even than a spa event or something - give a couple a night out!

  3. I'm so with you on the gift giving thing, and living in Africa for 5 years certainly didn't help that any! I love the Compassion pamphlet idea. My brother is an IT director for Compassion in the US and it is the most fabulous company to work for. They also set very high standards for the % of money that goes directly to projects and not to admin costs.

  4. Ali-I love how you cover all your bases for types of gift givers:) Ha. I guess I do like a well thought out gift and I probably should mention one time that Gary bought me the Power of One DVD (which we lost). I had said at one point that it was my favourite book and he remembered and bought me the DVD. That was nice.

    Kristin-I love that you can relate! Gary is a different kind of guy and I feel like I `get' him now but it took a while. I guess that's what relationships are all about:) And yes, the balance between being practical and thoughtful. I guess you need to know what kind of person the recipient is. If they are practical, they will like a practical gift right? I don't know.:)

    Tess-I will never buy you a gift again (actually, I probably never have). I love that give jam and food and random stuff:) I agree for celebrating the person, for sure. Very important.

    Nancy-my time in AFrica has def. helped me feel this way. I remember giving my students a piece of white lined paper to write their quiz answers on and they asked if they could please just keep the piece of paper because it was so nice (it was just white lined paper that I had brought from here). We have SO much.

    Thanks for not making me feel alone! I would love to hear from some people who love giving gifts and the process of shopping for them:)

  5. My husband never wants anything materialistic so I try to get concert tickets or show tickets... makes a good night out and I get to enjoy too! I think they are usually more memorable that physical gifts. And the bonus of living overseas... I mail cards and thats it for the family! Gift shopping is much easier now :)

  6. Yeah I'm with you on the gifts. It is SO not my love language (acts of service is mine--this makes me a good doula!), and like you I grew up with practical gift parents who valued time together over material objects. Even now, my least stressful aspect of Christmas is gifts for my side, because nobody expects much and we all like to spend time together and we're all frugal.

    I married into a family where EVERY SINGLE PERSON, even the marry ins, except me, has gifts as their love language. They loooooove to appreciate each other with gifts, gifts, gifts.

    This makes Brent an awesome gift giver, which is kind of wasted on me!! I mean, I appreciate his gifts but of all five love languages it is my last one! So, kind of wasted.

    Christmas is stressful for me on his side because of the gift thing. I can never, ever measure up to their gifts because I'm not a natural gift giver and because I'm perpetually poorer than any of the rest of them. Sigh.

    I would love a gift free christmas but I've come to see that this would be too much to ask of my "gift love language" family members--they would like the concept but the gifts make them feel loved and appreciated so I need to participate! With a good attitude (working on that one!lol!).

    I love the time together gifts; my sister in law always does that for my kids' birthdays. She gives them a certificate with pictures of four options like science world, rock climbing, and the movies, they choose which to do, and she does it with them. I love this so much. She's awesome.


  7. Katrina9:58 AM

    Oh Louise we are so similar!! It is so not my love language and stresses me out. As for Brayden, giving gifts is his number one way of showing love! He loves picking things out for people and watching them open it. He's usually more excited than I am when he gets me something!

  8. Anonymous10:52 AM

    For Christmas this year we are changing things around, yet still trying to be sensitive to those who want "gifts". We are exchanging one name with my family and the kids will get a few things in the next few days. In 2013 we want to try making a bigger deal of birthdays and giving gifts then instead of at Christmas.
    What we have been talking about is, "what do we give Christ for Christmas?" We are trying to help our kids to really understand what Christmas means and the joy to found in Christ. For the last ten days of advent we are going to give gifts to Jesus. Giving to those who can't give back, "to the least of these" as the bible says. Ideas we have tossed around are hamper items, baking for the elderly, chickens/goats for 3rd world countries, groceries, helping missionaries, and acts of service/kindness. I will let you know how it all works out:)

  9. Lynn-I love that you have figured out what Barney loves best, it took me a whole lot longer to figure it out (Gary is acts of service). Do YOU like getting gifts though? THat would be hard with family so far away!

    Melissa-I hear you on inlaws, same thing here!!! Starting in the summer, grandma wants a list of all the things that the kids need (nothing) or want. She spends months finding all the grandkids stuff. I don't have time for that! Does Brent do the shopping for his family then? Because Gary does not which makes it even harder for me. Your sis in laws option does sound so awesome. Hope you enjoy the gift giving this Christmas:)

    Katrina-so funny:) What is your love language? Hopefully it's not too stressful knowing what to get Brayden since he loves it so much:)

    Steph-let me know how it goes! We are def. trying to incorporate giving into our activities. I'm sure we could always do more!

  10. Katrina1:27 PM

    My love language is quality time which is not great for me during soccer season :)

  11. I do enjoy getting gifts, but like you, its more the cards and kind words. One of my favorite gifts Barney ever got me was a christmas card that he made for me with pictures of us in it. Its the thought that counts for me :)

  12. Anonymous6:52 PM

    I like to give gifts! Is it stressful? Yeah, sometimes but I enjoy the challenge of finding something I know the person will really like. Sometimes that means going to a play together or a meal out instead a physical gift. I have done this a lot more in recent years. It's especially great when you find something outside of the box that you know they aren't expecting.
    That being said I don't have a lot of people I have to buy for and sometimes I stick to a list they have made. I like getting gifts from a list (my mom makes me write one every year :) That means I don't I have to go find it myself!
    Maybe it makes a difference that I am buying for people who really enjoy getting gifts (not materialistic but the thought behind it). It motivates me to want to make their day :)

  13. Leah, what's on your bday list? :) if I had lists for everyone it would be way easier, that's for sure!!! I made Kai ask his teacher what she would like because even shopping for teachers can stress me out:)
    And since you like buying things, I like beer. You know what kind :)

  14. We were just having a conversation about this a work... I LOVE getting people gifts! I like thinking about it, I like the moment when I find the perfect gift (well, perfect in my mind anyway), I like wrapping the gifts in ways to trick the person into thinking it is something else, and I like seeing their faces when they are surprised or happy about a gift (oh, I even like it when my gifts make people cry because they think it was thoughtful). Of course, it doesn't always work out this way, and sometimes the gifts do end up being something that they have just told me they want... but overall giving gifts makes me happy. I do like getting gifts too, but mostly I like the anticipation. I like trying to guess what's under the tree and I really really like getting a gift that I haven't asked for, but someone has thought I would like or reminded them of me. Those are the best :)

  15. Anonymous11:00 PM

    Terri-I totally can relate to you!
    Louise- I would have to more thought into it...get you a new beer you will like even better!

  16. We shop together for B's family. We do most of the shopping for christmas together actually (quality time!! Woot!), even taking the kids and distracting them from the cart or covering stuff with jackets and things. =D

    I've discovered this year that RILEY is also a natural gift giver; he has chosen gifts for his little preschool friends and for his teachers and for his cousins... his list is long and he gets SUCH joy out of choosing small gifts for people he cares about. It's super sweet, and I just think his wife is going to be super lucky (like me!) because he's laid back, good looking, funny, and good with the gifts (he's a mini Brent). He needs to stop picking his nose, though. That's not such a good husband trait. Thank goodness Brent gave that up long before I came on the scene. =p

  17. Last year the whole Handy family went to Disneylad 3 days after Christmas instead of exchanging gifts - best Christmas ever!!! Unfortunately that is not affordable every year. This year Dave's mom is taking us to Cirque du Soleil instead of gifts. I'd take memories made together and quality time over gifts any day!!!

  18. Terri-you are the cutest. I can totally see you loving the whole experience:)
    Kristin-Cirque de Soliel sounds perfect!!! Maybe I'll get Gary that. I'm pretty sure he doesn't read these comments anyway:)