Author Topic: Gifts and Such  (Read 7403 times)

curlycue

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Gifts and Such
« on: April 30, 2014, 09:18:59 AM »
So I am curious as to what other mustachians do about gifts. For the past 15 years my life as a single woman has been filled with the money sucking not only gifts but travel for family members and close friendsand their children (nieces, nephew, godchildren). The first weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, second weddings, second bridal showers, second bachelorette parties, birthdays, holidays, baby showers, baptisms, and graduations seem relentless, socially obliged, and I am extremely low income. has anyone else faced this issue? how do you handle it?

lifejoy

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2014, 09:46:07 AM »
One of my friends, she is the master at low-budget gifts. She makes things, deal-hunts, re-purposes, and shops vintage stores (aka thrift shops).

If you give yourself enough time to prepare (like 3-6 months) you can find some very good deals. I have a gift cupboard where I stash great things that I found for amazing prices. Boxing week sales is always a good time for me to stock up. I also re-gift gifts I receive. When someone gives me a gift card, I re-gift that sometimes. I don't need $20 to starbucks.

I hope that helps!! Gifts from the heart are always the best :)

BuzzardsBay

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2014, 09:48:13 AM »
This is a really good question.  I'm single and have this problem too.  I just try not to go overboard and sometimes I have to say no.  The whole thing does get annoying.

And the other thing that bothers me is that a married person who gets family health insurance at work costs the company about $8,250 a year more than it costs them to insure me.  But it's not like we get the difference or anything.

MayDay

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2014, 09:54:43 AM »
Do you sew? I sew as many gifts as I can. Works especially well for baby and kid gifts, but I also do stuff like embroidered tea towels or cloth napkins for weddings. I spend some on fabric of course, but that's usually under ten bucks, compared to 25-30$ if I was buying a gift.

Erin

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #4 on: April 30, 2014, 09:57:40 AM »
I think that libraryjoy has some good ideas. I do the same thing with my giftcards (regift). I frequently get the same kind of things ($20 to Starbucks/Target/etc), that I am unlikely to use, and would rather just pass on. If you get credit card points, you could also redeem them for gift card gifts. And I have no qualms about regifting something I know I will never use. It's ridiculous not to.

As lame as it sounds, I'm a big fan of the mixed CD (still...still CDs in my car!), cards that actually have writing in them rather than just a signature, or something homemade or small and thoughtful. Honestly, I would much rather get a jar of good jam or honey, home-made beef jerky or smoked fish, or a hand painted clever frame/sign than some crappy candle holder that you know was an afterthought.

I also think the bottom line is, if you can't afford a gift, you shouldn't be forced to give one. It always reminds me of the episode of Sex & The City (somehow, I don't think this show is that popular in this forum) where Carrie goes to a 3rd baby shower for some lady and gets her shoes stolen. She points out, as a single lady that she has bought this lady bridal shower, wedding, and 3 kids shower/birthday gifts/etc over the life of their friendship, and this lady has never gotten her anything just because she hasn't celebrated the appropriate life events. I don't think gifts are necessary for life events that are important to other people. The joy of a wedding, is you are getting married. The joy of a child, is you get a child. And so on and so forth. I don't understand the excessive gifting for every damn occasion. MMM had an article on Xmas gifting once. It's definitely difficult when your friends aren't of the same mindset as you either.

jat9449

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #5 on: April 30, 2014, 10:48:56 AM »
I believe in re-gifting as frequently as possible, but if I know where a gift was purchased I'm not shy about returning the gift for store credit or a gift card to be used later or as a gift for someone else. I received a book for X-mas (after having just sold nearly all of my books at a garage sale). I rushed right out and picked up the same book from the library (read it ... I'm not heartless after all), and then returned the book to the store it was purchased at for store credit. This way when I need a gift down the road I can use that store credit. I enjoyed the book, but I didn't need to have it on my bookshelf collecting dust to be never read again.

Someday maybe I'll grow the balls and tell people not to buy me anything. My immediate family knows this so they give me cash or food. 



 

Catbert

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #6 on: April 30, 2014, 11:36:42 AM »
In addition to the above, I give jars/baskets of homemade jam, salsa, etc.  My sister is the master of low-cost thoughtful gifts:  Reprints of vintage WWII  posters (canning/gardening for me, nursing for my RN sister); DVDs/CDs of TV shows and music from our childhood; framed reprints of childhood pictures (BILs got black and white photos of their DW as a child).
 
Sometime you just need to say "No."  "No" to the wedding shower for a second marriage.  "No" to the baby shower for a 3rd child. 

Worsted Skeins

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2014, 11:55:59 AM »
Remembering back to my single days, I was irritated when I was expected to give multiple gifts to a family (sibling, spouse, children) when I was low income.  In retrospect I wish that I had given a simple family gift instead of the multiples.

Within the extended family, most of us have reached a point where we don't need things.  I now focus on the children for whom I buy books.  I also write checks for the college fund of my grand nephew whose parents are teachers.  They have had a financial set back so I figure they can use a hand.  That said, I feel no obligation to give equal gifts among the family members or friends. 

I also have sent regrets but no gift in response to baby shower invitations.  I give one gift at the time of the baby's birth.  Instead of traveling several hours to a shower, I have traveled after the baby's birth to offer babysitting services.  Much more fun!

lifejoy

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #8 on: April 30, 2014, 12:42:00 PM »
I think that libraryjoy has some good ideas. I do the same thing with my giftcards (regift). I frequently get the same kind of things ($20 to Starbucks/Target/etc), that I am unlikely to use, and would rather just pass on. If you get credit card points, you could also redeem them for gift card gifts. And I have no qualms about regifting something I know I will never use. It's ridiculous not to.

As lame as it sounds, I'm a big fan of the mixed CD (still...still CDs in my car!), cards that actually have writing in them rather than just a signature, or something homemade or small and thoughtful. Honestly, I would much rather get a jar of good jam or honey, home-made beef jerky or smoked fish, or a hand painted clever frame/sign than some crappy candle holder that you know was an afterthought.

I also think the bottom line is, if you can't afford a gift, you shouldn't be forced to give one. It always reminds me of the episode of Sex & The City (somehow, I don't think this show is that popular in this forum) where Carrie goes to a 3rd baby shower for some lady and gets her shoes stolen. She points out, as a single lady that she has bought this lady bridal shower, wedding, and 3 kids shower/birthday gifts/etc over the life of their friendship, and this lady has never gotten her anything just because she hasn't celebrated the appropriate life events. I don't think gifts are necessary for life events that are important to other people. The joy of a wedding, is you are getting married. The joy of a child, is you get a child. And so on and so forth. I don't understand the excessive gifting for every damn occasion. MMM had an article on Xmas gifting once. It's definitely difficult when your friends aren't of the same mindset as you either.

+1!!!!!!!!

My friends all have different financial situations, and they have made me feel special by gifting letters, cooking lessons (with/from themselves!) and other special things that are free or very low cost. I think that is what needs to be focused on, and if the people in your life don't get it - well, that's their problem, not yours.

Emilyngh

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #9 on: April 30, 2014, 01:49:31 PM »
We have a gift budget of $100 a mo ($1200 a year), which sounds high, but includes xmas for 2 large extended families and 3 children of our own.   We spend about $700 of this on xmas and $300 a year on b-days for the kids and each other, leaving only about $200 a year for all other gifts.

Which means we give $10 or less gifts for parents' bdays, mother's day, niece/nephew bdays, etc.   We do a combination of making things (eg, made my mother some homemade body butter last mother's day), buying small token favorite food items, buying small thoughtful gifts (eg., my mother was just saying she wanted to try Dr Bronner's soap, so I got her some this mother's day), getting kids art supplies from the dollar store, finding things on super sales/regifting, going in with siblings for slightly larger items we know they want, and just giving homemade cards. 

 On occasion we will spend more if it's for something that we know if really wanted/needed, and we spend $50 per couple for wedding gifts, but these situations don't come up often for us.


CommonCents

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2014, 01:51:43 PM »
So I am curious as to what other mustachians do about gifts. For the past 15 years my life as a single woman has been filled with the money sucking not only gifts but travel for family members and close friends and their children (nieces, nephew, godchildren). The first weddings, bridal showers, bachelorette parties, second weddings, second bridal showers, second bachelorette parties, birthdays, holidays, baby showers, baptisms, and graduations seem relentless, socially obliged, and I am extremely low income. has anyone else faced this issue? how do you handle it?

  • I don't give gifts for the bolded items.  (Although to be fair, I'm not faced with a second bridal shower situation, but since the reason of a shower is to set up a new couple in their new home...I think it's probably unnecessary gifting event for a second wedding.)
  • I also limit the gifts to close friends to wedding related.  I don't have gifting traditions for their kids though I would give at graduation I suspect.  For 1-2 close friends we just tend to out for their dinner and call it a day (everyone picking up their own check), but that didn't even used to be the case.
  • I deal hunt.
  • I make.  I'm just about to start on a wedding quilt for friends.
  • And finally, I'm considering talking to my family about a present truce where we decrease the amount of money we spend (to 0 in some cases?  we'll see).

Frugal Vegan Mom

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2014, 02:03:09 PM »
People actually have 2nd bridal and baby showers?  I thought that was considered taboo!  I would never expect a shower for my 2nd baby (due this Oct.)

Personally, I decline as many bridal and baby showers as possible because most of them are just painful to sit through. 

For weddings, I just suck it up and buy something for $50 off the registry.  I figure the dinner and entertainment of the wedding is worth at least that much if we were going to have similar night out (especially with an open bar!). 

For less formal occasions (birthdays and holidays) I have this awesome book called Vegan Food Gifts with all these recipes + decorating ideas for ready made soup & cookie mixes, infused liqueurs, etc.  Something for everyone.  Or I go to the co-op and pick out a few specialty items such as tea in nice tins, specialty bulk chocolates, other interesting goodies, and dress them up and put them in a gift basket.

curlycue

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2014, 08:35:08 PM »
Thanks everyone. So the season of celebrations has begun. I have one graduation party for a cousin, and one baby shower for a college friend. I really want to attend both as it is important to me to see my family and friend who I have not seen in years. Travel costs will be substantial but not exorbitant, I will be taking trains. Any gift ideas?

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2014, 06:25:02 AM »
My sister makes homemade dry baking mixes, then ties the recipe to the package (usually a Mason jar) with a curly ribbon.

For graduations, maybe a Mustachian book like Your Money or Your Life, Early Retirement Extreme, etc?

samburger

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2014, 07:26:39 AM »
I hate hate hate doing gifts, and it's not a money thing. If someone isn't close to me, I do wine or a bag of good coffee or whatever seems to suit them (easy, can keep it under $20, always consumable). If they are close to me, I angle for a no-gifts policy.

The no-gifts policy means no obligatory gifts with the understanding that spending money to be together should really negate the need for gifts after a certain point in a relationship (going out for food together or, for long distance folks, airfare). That gifts aren't obligatory doesn't mean we don't exchange them from time-to-time, but it's refreshing to do it once in a while and not several times a year.

That all said, gift giving is totally gendered. I'm not the type of person you really expect a warm, thoughtful, fancy gift from, so I think I get away with doing less. The more feminine you are, the more people expect, unfortunately.

pachnik

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2014, 08:04:42 AM »
My family and my circle of friends are both quite small so not too many weddings, showers etc.  The ones I go to I usually really want to go to so those aren't a problem for me.  But I can see it would be if there were a lot of them.  I've never even heard of showers for second weddings. 

I am touched by Serpentstooth's gift giving to her parents.   That is really lovely and thoughtful.  I only give gifts to my husband, my parents and my niece and nephew and one friend (but she and I exchange very small items at Christmas only - fridge magnet, or home made granola).  Because my parents have enough stuff, i usually take my mom to our local Shakespeare festival because she really enjoys it and i bake some sugar-free treats for my dad since he's diabetic.  Husband usually gets tennis stuff which he needs.  The niece and nephew get $ since they are older now.

i like Goblinchief's idea of a graduation gift.  But I think I would get them a mainstream financial book as well as a Mustachian one.  Just in case they don't take to the Mustachian one - maybe they will take to the more mainstream one. 

I am also not a very gift buyer anyway.  My husband is much better at it.

SingleMomDebt

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #16 on: July 19, 2014, 09:21:03 PM »
I need help. My girlfriend (on 4th baby, 1st girl) is having a "sprinkle" (mini-baby shower). I really don't want to buy any gifts. I'm laser-focused on paying my debt off (thank you for this forum and the encouragement). Do I give in to buy a box of diapers (I'm a gift giver of necessities) or how do I 'excuse' myself from the gift buying while still being obliged to go to the "sprinkle"?

MBot

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #17 on: July 19, 2014, 10:02:52 PM »
To be honest, I probably wouldn't go.
If I did, I would do a "diaper cake" or something that I put effort into but is fairly cheap. Plus, unless they cloth diaper, they need diapers for a 4th just like with a 1st!

I got several bad/thoughtless gifts from a wealthy but cheap family member growing up. She would do odd things like Tupperware and mismatched cups for other adults at Christmas.  I think I am more sensitive to it because my immediate family didn't do any Christmas  gifts, so the one from Grandma and the one from the "cousins gift exchange" was all my childhood Cheistmases would see, so a cheap/thoughtless gift had an impact

I still feel devalued when people give thoughtless gifts for occasions that do require them. (First wedding/baby shower, Christmas with family). But it's easy to tell when someone is giving something thoughtful on a budget. But when it's cheap or last minute? That stings. And I'd never want to do that to someone else.

So for weddings I do buy off their registry, but I try and coordinate big "group gifts" where a bunch of us get together. Then we buy something useful like the pots and pans or down comforter. Same with baby showers.

For Christmas, I do the "gift savings through the year" fund and get things I know they like. I do try to buy consumable things (candles, chocolate, coffee) rather than trinkets or things that will sit. I also offer to the parents of nieces/nephews that we will contribute to their RESP for college every birthday/Christmas. 
« Last Edit: July 19, 2014, 10:05:45 PM by MBot »

parsimonious

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #18 on: July 19, 2014, 10:03:57 PM »
Just stop buying gifts?

My best friend is amazed that I can "get away with it". But eventually people just won't expect it from you and you still get to keep your friends and family.

The first couple of times you are going to feel all guilty and weird, but then you realize that the world had not crumbled, there are no angry mobs chasing after you and life goes on as before.

I don't splurge on myself, why the hell should I buy useless crap for other people that they don't need?

Embrace your inner Scrooge!

KMMK

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #19 on: July 19, 2014, 10:48:24 PM »
Yep, just stop. That's the easiest way.

lifejoy

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #20 on: July 19, 2014, 11:05:15 PM »

Just stop buying gifts?

My best friend is amazed that I can "get away with it". But eventually people just won't expect it from you and you still get to keep your friends and family.

The first couple of times you are going to feel all guilty and weird, but then you realize that the world had not crumbled, there are no angry mobs chasing after you and life goes on as before.

I don't splurge on myself, why the hell should I buy useless crap for other people that they don't need?

Embrace your inner Scrooge!

I fantasize about doing is. But gift giving is one of my predominant "love languages". Like how another poster commented about cheap and thoughtless gifts? I see that as not showing your love. So to give people nothing would be VERY HARD for me.

My gameplan is to save gift cards that get given to me, so I can fund my gift buying. Also to buy way in advance when this are on sale (I bought my mom a fancy Xmas ornament that she LOVES... The thing is, I bought it during boxing week for $2 and saved it for a year. Yep.)

I am also trying to gift experiences instead of stuff. Because we all have too much stuff!


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parsimonious

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #21 on: July 19, 2014, 11:24:46 PM »
Yeah, I do get that. My best friend is naturally a giver, so I do understand that some people can have an easy time not spending on themselves, but then agonize over cutting the gift budget. She is a single mom with a lot in student loans (220k ouch) and bought stuff for a baby shower for my other friend (who I know makes around $200k a year between husband and wife) I figured their babies would be fine without a 15th new outfit, and we are still friends.

Just remember that not giving is an option. Sometimes just knowing an alternative cost is $0 helps frame purchasing decisions.

lifejoy

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2014, 11:29:00 PM »

Yeah, I do get that. My best friend is naturally a giver, so I do understand that some people can have an easy time not spending on themselves, but then agonize over cutting the gift budget. She is a single mom with a lot in student loans (220k ouch) and bought stuff for a baby shower for my other friend (who I know makes around $200k a year between husband and wife) I figured their babies would be fine without a 15th new outfit, and we are still friends.

Just remember that not giving is an option. Sometimes just knowing an alternative cost is $0 helps frame purchasing decisions.

The really interesting thing is, I didn't realize (until recently, through a nice convo with a dear friend) that sometimes my generosity overwhelms people and makes them feel badly if they can't do the same for me. *Mind blown*

Is still really hard for me to know how much is enough, and how much is too much. I believe staunchly in frugality, except for when giving to others.


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MayDay

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #23 on: July 20, 2014, 07:41:25 AM »
For a shower for a fourth baby (even if it is a different gender) I would only give a small clothing item.  You can spend under 10$ easily.  And if you have amazing skills, you might be able to find something new with tags at a thrift store or consignment store.  Or, if you have other new mom friends, ask them if they had extra gifts of clothing with tags still on that they would sell or trade you, and use that as a gift.

If it is a close friend and you live near, give a card with a certificate for babysitting, and in the card express that you really mean it, you will be happy to babysit either all four, just the baby, or just the three older boys, and then once the baby is here, follow up and set someone in stone.

If you live far away, and are coming in for a weekend, make your gift an outing for the three older boys while you are in town, so the pregnant mama can either take a nap, prepare for baby, or just enjoy some quiet!  Or gift her with several freezer meals for after baby comes, if you know her food choices. 

SingleMomDebt

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #24 on: July 20, 2014, 09:40:10 AM »
To be honest, I probably wouldn't go.

Thank you, MBot. I already made a commitment to go and is a dear friend for a long time. I agree on your point with thoughtless gifts. If I do give in to a necessity gift, it will be well rounded.

@parsimonious @Kestra I've seriously thought about this. Actually, this did happen with one friend. The guilt... Oy. I still think about it to this day (few months later). Like I should make it up to her.

I am also trying to gift experiences instead of stuff. Because we all have too much stuff!

Libraryjoy, I often do this. To create an experience or to give someone an experience is much meaningful to me.

For a shower for a fourth baby (even if it is a different gender) I would only give a small clothing item.  You can spend under 10$ easily.  And if you have amazing skills, you might be able to find something new with tags at a thrift store or consignment store.  Or, if you have other new mom friends, ask them if they had extra gifts of clothing with tags still on that they would sell or trade you, and use that as a gift.

If it is a close friend and you live near, give a card with a certificate for babysitting, and in the card express that you really mean it, you will be happy to babysit either all four, just the baby, or just the three older boys, and then once the baby is here, follow up and set someone in stone.

If you live far away, and are coming in for a weekend, make your gift an outing for the three older boys while you are in town, so the pregnant mama can either take a nap, prepare for baby, or just enjoy some quiet!  Or gift her with several freezer meals for after baby comes, if you know her food choices. 

MayDay - great ideas, thank you. I used to find brand new tagged baby clothes at the consignment shops all the time. And the certificate for babysitting... didn't think of that. That is a gift that doesn't cost money and would mean a ton to her.

socaso

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Re: Gifts and Such
« Reply #25 on: July 20, 2014, 10:15:26 AM »
I don't really give gifts unless I have an inspiration for the event. Our family went through a period where all the cousins were getting married and I made afghans for everyone which wasn't expensive and was fun for me since I like to crochet. My niece's birthday is coming up and I found some cute hair bows for next to nothing so I got her a few. The last couple of years I didn't get her anything due to lack of inspiration. There's no way I'd give gift for a second bridal shower or baby shower. You aren't supposed to have those. I also don't give wedding gift when I travel for a wedding because my presence is the gift. If anyone has ever raised an eyebrow over this policy I haven't heard about it and I would think a lot less of them for saying anything.

A relative of mine who was a single parent spent years showering far too many people with gifts out of guilt and it really put me off the practice. I think just showing up for major life events is a huge deal and if I invite people to my event (wedding, shower, whatever) it's because I want to see their smiling faces.