Random Gift Giving: For or Against?

I was curious about this one, and in the spirit of Valentine’s Day rapidly approaching (seriously, I saw Easter candy out at the grocery stores!), I figured it was somewhat appropriate. This can really be applied to any relationship, though.

Random gift giving is not something I have any experience with. In my past and current relationships, I’ve enjoyed spending time with the person way more than receiving a random gift. Since hearing stories of how my co-worker’s boyfriend has come home with flowers, chocolate or sparkly things, I can’t help but wonder if I would really enjoy it.

It seems like a nice gesture, but if I’m being honest, I would rather come home to all the dishes being clean, dinner made, and having my significant other just telling me how much he appreciates me. I don’t need to receive presents in order for that point to come across.

The cons of random gift giving

  1. It can turn into a competition. My co-worker was saying the other day that she had to get flowers for her boyfriend’s birthday since he got her a bouquet for hers. I don’t believe in one-upping in the gift giving arena.
  2. You might feel obligated to return the favor. Random gifts should be given because you feel like cheering someone up, or you found something you knew they would absolutely love. Personally, when someone gives me a present, I feel pressured to give something back. I love baking and cooking for R and he appreciates it, and I appreciates it when he cleans up my mess! It works for us.
  3. Money! Obviously, buying presents = spending money in most cases. If you start the cycle, when will it stop? I know there are couples out there that celebrate everything as an excuse to buy things for each other. We all read the statistics of how much people spend on Valentine’s Day, and it can be costly.

    random gift
    A gift from a co-worker; I love candles!
  4. Guilt. This doesn’t even need to pertain to couples. My grandma happens to have a really nice couple that lives next door to her, and even though she has told them to not give her anything since the first gift, they haven’t stopped. She received a nice gift basket for Christmas and felt bad as she had only given them baked goods. I hate to be a “grinch,” but I don’t like it when someone unexpectedly gives me something, either. If I wasn’t intending on buying anything for anyone at work, and my co-worker gives me something, I tend to feel bad. It’s easier when you know people don’t expect something in return.
  5. Pressure. I’m going to be honest again here and say I’m very difficult to shop for. R knows this, and this is probably the number one reason he doesn’t surprise me with anything. He admitted that he was afraid of buying me something I wouldn’t like during our first Christmas together, and I know it’s a legitimate fear. Of course, you don’t want to be wasting your money on things someone won’t appreciate.

The pro’s of random gift giving

In the interest of presenting both sides, here’s a few reasons why I think random gift giving might be appropriate.

  1. In moderation. As long as it’s truly random and not a weekly occurrence (more like a handful of times a year), I think it’s okay. There’s a lot of reasons for this, one being that it’s really not random if you can come to expect something every week or month, and also because of the potential for clutter.
  2. Circumstance. When I was a receptionist, one of my bosses had me purchase flowers to be delivered to his girlfriend. She was having a rough day and he included a little pick-me-up note with the flowers. I thought it was a really sweet idea. If someone you know is going through a tough time, give them something that will put a smile on their face.
  3. Collections. There are a few people I know who collect certain things (mostly figurines). My grandma, for example, loves angel and elephant figurines. If I happened to stumble upon either for a reasonable price, I’d probably get it for her. In this case, the person will likely be happy to add to their collection and it wouldn’t be a waste.
  4. If someone really wants something. If I knew R was really longing for a certain item, but couldn’t bring himself to buy it, I might decide to do so. This doesn’t really happen often at all (I’m more likely to withhold from a purchase), but I think it could be a nice gesture if the item is really important to them. My mom has been wanting a Keurig machine ever since she moved, but hasn’t given in to buying one yet. I’ve been contemplating getting it for her, but it is a bigger ticket item and my dad doesn’t see a reason to get one, so I’m waiting to see if she will change her mind.

Which side do you lean toward?

random gift
My grandma knows me well

This is all really based on personal preference and the relationship dynamics you have with others. I’ve seen my friends go out of their way to get presents for each other at times, mostly due to the excitement of knowing that person would love the present. Most of them are comic book fans and have favorite characters, so it’s a bit easier.

I’ve read that there are “five languages of love“, and I am definitely more of a quality time person. I love to cuddle and lean toward random acts of kindness (surprising R with a cheesecake) as I think it yields more happiness. However, R and I are just not gift people. R doesn’t even think cards are important. He knows that what makes me happy is making my life easier =).

That said, I do think there’s a time and place for surprising people with gifts. I know I’d be thrilled if someone decided to buy me a laptop (totally not happening). Maybe I am just jaded because I tend to be horrible at surprise gifts. I’d much rather be told what the person wants.

What do you think? Do you enjoy surprising people with presents? Do you like being on the receiving end? Or would you rather express appreciation in a different way?

Christmas Recap

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas! I did, despite my allergies randomly bothering me since Saturday. It was nice to spend time with family and see my parents again. I figured I would go a little off topic today and just do a recap of my weekend and Christmas activities. Please feel free to share yours in the comments!

The Weekend

My parents had slept over our apartment Sunday and Monday night, and it was nice to spend time with them before all the festivities. As soon as I got out of work Saturday, R and I went to meet them at my grandma’s house. Unlike us, they made really good time, leaving at 1:30am and arriving around 3:30pm, plus they stopped for breakfast and twice for gas.

My mom had to do some last minute shopping Sunday morning, and then her, my dad and my grandma joined us for dinner. I made baked ziti as my mom requested it, mostly to see how my sauce has progressed (it got a passing mark!). Afterward, R and I did some shopping. The stores were horrendous, and the bad part was we were mostly shopping for groceries.

Monday was a day for relaxing. My mom made her chocolate pudding pie, my dad made fudge, and I made cheesecake and chocolate chip cookies. My family is big on dessert, can’t you tell? I actually had made chocolate chip cookies Friday night, but everyone loved them so much that I had to make more. They are extremely simple, and I’ll probably be posting the recipe soon. I found it via an app on my phone while I was browsing for recipes one day. It’s part of my plan to bake/cook more and discover new things to make.

At night, we watched NCIS together since we had missed the most recent episode. My parents had borrowed an air mattress from my grandma that just fit in our living room. I felt bad as our apartment is really not suited for guests, but thankfully they were comfortable aside from thinking it was somehow too warm! This makes me think we should strongly consider getting a 2-bedroom apartment when we move, even if they are a bit more expensive. Two bathrooms would be lovely, too.

Christmas Eve

We spent Christmas Eve at my aunt’s house this year, since my cousins were going to be spending Christmas with their dad. Unfortunately my stomach chose the holidays to be upset, so I didn’t really eat much, but everything looked amazing. The main dish was chicken parmesan courtesy of my grandma, along with tilapia, broccoli, shrimp and spinach.

Dessert consisted of chocolate pudding pie, cheesecake, cookies from my grandma and I, pumpkin pie, and fudge. Yum.

White Christmas
Driving home

There was a surprise waiting for us when we left, though. Snow! We got a White Christmas, which I hadn’t been expecting at all. I had checked the weather a few days prior, and the chance of precipitation was 10%. Around 9:30, we decided to head home before it got worse. Thankfully we all got home in one piece, but cars were slipping and sliding everywhere! My dad actually had to help someone who was stuck.

Christmas

I really can’t believe Christmas has come and gone already. It seems like yesterday that I was counting down the days until my parents got here, and now that they’re here, it’s going by too fast! When you really want to make time matter, it seems like it speeds up.

Our plan for a “big” sleepover worked out well. My parents got up around 8, we got up around 8:30, and surprisingly, my grandma slept until 9. She has an awful habit of waking up extremely early, being unable to fall back asleep for three hours, and then “sleeping in.” My mom and I tried to clean up as much as possible with the air mattress, blankets and laundry that was going on before she woke up.

Christmas
Mostly things for the apartment

Opening presents was fun, but I couldn’t help feeling bad that my parents and my grandma didn’t have a lot to open. My mom and grandma had apparently teamed up and each got us a handful of things for the apartment, which was really nice, but resulted in a lot of little things being opened for a while. I just feel odd when everyone is left watching you open presents because they finished opening theirs!

R went to his mom’s house to exchange presents there around 11:30, and then he came back to the apartment to drop things off and check on our cats. Everyone arrived at my grandma’s around 2, and we were talking and eating appetizers for a while. Unfortunately, my allergies were killing me again, and the only thing that happens to help me is Benadryl, which puts me to sleep. I even took half the dose I normally do, and it hit me about an hour later. I’m sad to say I slept through dinner, even though a piece of lasagna was waiting for me when I woke up.

Dessert mostly consisted of talking and stuffing our faces at the same time. R and I were the only ones there who had to work the next day, but everyone left around 8pm. I felt funny leaving my parents there, as I’m so used to going home with them. My mom is stopping by my job today to say hi to everyone though, so that should be fun.

I can’t believe stores were advertising their “after Christmas” sales yesterday; I saw that Macy’s was opening at 5am. I am not in the mood to do more shopping after all the shopping I had to do for Christmas presents! While I am sure there are deals to be had, I’m quite happy with everything we received for Christmas. I hope Santa was good to all of you as well!

What did you get for Christmas? How did you celebrate? Are you going to partake in the after Christmas shopping?

The Pressure of Presents

As I wrote in my post last week about celebrating my birthday, my boyfriend, R, had purchased a new pair of tweezers to replace my old ones. They had somehow gotten lost in the move, and I was pretty peeved about it. I had just purchased them maybe two months ago, and at $14 a pop, they’re not exactly cheap. I kept saying that the second I got new tweezers, we would find the old ones. That’s exactly what happened!

I went into the bathroom on Saturday and did a double take. There were two tweezers sitting on the sink – not one, two. Where did the other one come from?? We had honestly looked everywhere, so I really thought this was a fluke. Excited, I texted R and then called him, but he was at work so he couldn’t answer right away. I kept wondering where the heck he managed to find them, and was already planning on returning the ones he had gotten me. It’s not worth it to have 2 in the apartment, and R could get $14 back. Win win. Well, he didn’t think so…

Tweezers

What else am I supposed to get you?!

Instead of being as happy as I was that he had found my old tweezers (in a place I had looked in three times, no less), his response was, “That was the only thing I got you for your birthday, though. If we return them, then I got you nothing, which makes me a jerk.” I assured him that it didn’t make him a jerk, but there was no sense in having 2 and he might as well get his money back. He agreed with that on a logical level, but not an emotional one.

Have you ever tried to find the perfect present for someone (and succeeded)? It’s hard! I am not an easy person to shop for, and since I’m trying to become more of a minimalist, I couldn’t think of anything for anyone to get me that would actually be worthwhile. Thus, I received cash and jewelry from family. I had wanted a nice, simple necklace that I thought R could buy, but I ended up getting something that fit the bill from an aunt. I am still trying to look for something that I absolutely want, and have been failing.

There are other alternatives

R paid for a dinner out last week, the day after my birthday, which I thought could count for something, but it’s still a sore spot that he can’t leave alone. This happens for anniversaries and Christmas as well. Our first Christmas together we actually just purchased candy and wrapped it for each other, which I thought was cute (and yummy)! I didn’t see anything wrong with this, even if it was an inexpensive option. We both ate our candy so it was money well spent. Likewise, I love to bake for people. Who doesn’t appreciate a batch of cookies, cupcakes or brownies?

His birthday happens to correspond closely with our anniversary, so last year we took a trip to a bed and breakfast that his old cross country coach owned, and it was pretty nice (and slightly expensive). However, we did split the cost since half the celebration was for his birthday and half for our anniversary. All in all I don’t ever “compare” gifts and think, “Well, I spent more on you than you did for me!” It’s a futile exercise. I mean, who originally said we had to give gifts on holidays and special occasions? Tradition, which can always be broken. I’d rather just spend a memorable day together that we can look back on.

The last alternative I gave him was to paint me a picture. R went to college for art, and I really wanted him to make something for me that I could hang on the wall. I’ve actually been wanting something like this from him since we started dating! It took him forever to get around to it, but finally this past Valentine’s Day he gave me this painting:

Owl Painting For some reason the past year and a half has found me slightly obsessed with cute, adorable owls, so I told him to paint us as owls. It’s a little cheesey, but I love how it came out, and it is now in our bedroom. I told him he should make a little series as I got him 2 little canvases he could paint on. Unfortunately, it took him long enough to produce this painting, so it would probably take him another six months for both :). In any case, I would much rather receive a thoughtful/crafted present like this that I could treasure as opposed to jewelry, clothes or something else I don’t need.

A Compromise

I think it’s extremely important to reach a compromise so that one person does not feel disappointed about giving or not giving a present to the other. Most of the time, for us, that compromise is going out to eat, since it is something mutually enjoyed and we both benefit from it. In some cases, R doesn’t feel like it is enough, but he does so much for me on a daily basis that I think it’s silly he feels this need to give me a tangible present.

Communication is key in any relationship, and in any situation like this. Both people should clearly state what their preferences are as far as gift-giving goes early on, or at least before a gift-giving holiday comes along. When you’re first with someone, there can be that awkward moment when you’re wondering how much the other spent on you, and if your gifts will compare. Get rid of that possibility by talking about it! Set a limit, or agree upon presents beforehand. It may ruin the surprise, but I don’t think every present always needs to be a surprise.

Lastly, think of other ways to tell a person you really appreciate them and care about them. Not everything has to be in the form of a tangible item – it could be a poem/really nice card (I have been guilty of crying from reading a touching message in a card), something you create yourself, or someone’s favorite meal! If you’re feeling a little fancy, buy them an experience they won’t forget, like a cruise, sports game or trip away to a place they’ve been wanting to visit.

What gifts do you prefer to receive, if any at all? What gifts do you give others? Have you found yourself in a similar situation as me before?