02 December 2010

Gift Lists

After my last post, a friend asked an interesting question:
As far as gifting goes, I'm curious what your thoughts are on that. I've been having the worst time building christmas lists these past few years. Maybe next year, when we're not a DINK household (dual income, no kids), I'll have more wants. Right now, and with our current financial choices, it's difficult to generate a christmas list of reasonably priced items that we haven't already bought for ourselves.
We were a DINK household, too, and it does make a difference.  When I write my Christmas list, it's for me, not for my family, as my husband is quite capable of writing his own list.  Two solid incomes meant we could buy anything we needed while still meeting our financial goals.  Right now, even though I'm doing online tutoring, I still consider us a single income household (my income is wiggle room in the budget).  That does make a huge difference in what we can afford, but as you probably know, we are very careful with our money and are sure to use it where we need it.  Being budget conscious, we also strive to put reasonably priced items on our lists, although we generally include one or two "big" items as well.  I'm not sure how well this thought process will work for everyone, but here's what I did this year.

I mentally and physically break my list into categories.  Yes, I organize my lists.  You're shocked, right?  First, I include the basics: clothes, anything I need, and stores I shop at for gift cards.  Most people that I know hate giving gift cards, but I love receiving them.  It's a great feeling when I do want to go shopping (rare, but it does happen!) and I can do it for free!

The next thing to go on the list is what I think the household/family could use. For instance, this year I have a large "kitchen goods" section.  None of the things on that list are really necessary (hence why I haven't bought them for myself), but they would make my kitchen easier or more fun to use.  The current list includes things like tea spoons, a milk frother, and a recipe box.

After that, it's all individual taste.  I used to ask for tons of stuff but only use a small portion, leading to tremendous clutter.  Now, I try to pay attention to what I actually use in my house and how that could be improved.  For instance, this year I spent a lot of time cooking & baking, exercising, sewing & cross-stitching, drinking tea, and reading.  Hence, there are kitchen & tea accessories, exercise equipment, sewing paraphernalia, and crafting supplies on my list.  For the first time since I was very young, the list only included one video game and three DVDs.  I just don't spend much time playing video games or watching movies any more.

And then of course, there are the books.  *evil grin*  Okay, I actually wasn't that bad.  The list was mostly books in series I've already started or new titles by authors I love.

I'm also trying something new.  Get Rich Slowly had a great post last year about a study showing that good experiences lead to happiness more consistently than good Stuff does.  Based on my experience, especially in the last year, that felt very true to me.  So this year, I also included some "experience" requests, like tickets to the local symphony orchestra.

If that sounds like a lot, remember that this list goes to six different households, all of whom buy gifts separately, and all of whom like to have options, making me sympathize with the need to be creative when writing!

Does your family influence how you write your gift list?  Did you give that up when you got married or reached a certain age?  Do you request them from others or use a different method to choose gifts?  How do you handle gift giving during the holidays?

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