Thursday, March 20, 2008

A Simple Birthday Gift

Here's the other side of yesterday's conundrum: If I'm not asking for charity donations in lieu of a gift, then what do I ask for as a birthday present? I'm not saying I'm against gifts. I like receiving thoughtful gifts that are meaningful to both myself and the giver. It doesn't have to be the Perfect Present. It can just be something where the person said, "Hey, I saw this and it reminded me of you. I hope you like it."

The only problem with this strategy is that many gift-givers, I'm sure, would find it frustrating. Not everyone enjoys coming up with gift ideas. Or there's people I don't see every day that might not always have the best sense of what I am currently interested in / need / use. I understand that certain personalities find choosing a gift to be more of a trial than enjoyable, or have a million things to do and really just need a little help with ideas. So me suggesting, "Oh, just pick up something meaningful!" would be the equivalent of poking the potential giver in the eye with a sharp stick.

On the other hand, I am trying somewhat to de-clutter my life. I don't want a lot of new STUFF that needs to find a home in my house. But how can one get gifts without getting stuff?

This leads me to the conclusion that I should ask for gift cards—specifically, gift cards for services. Like maybe a pedicure; I've never had one, but now that my baby bump is growing daily and it's a monumental effort to reach my toes for more than 2 seconds, I think it could be a welcome option. Or for a haircut—my parents gave me a gift card for a haircut at Christmas and I loved it. Or can I even ask someone to take me out for drinks/snacks? Can I suggest that spending time with them be part of the gift? I don't want to be overly demanding, but if I'm close enough to someone that they'd consider getting me a birthday gift, they're probably someone that I'd like to sit and talk with.

What do you think as a gift giver and receiver? What is acceptable practice? Conversely, what are your pet peeves?


Jessica said...

Joanna and I do exactly one of the things you mentioned. For Christmas we used to buy each other presents. When I moved away it became harder to figure out what the other needed/wanted. As we got older we also realized that getting stuff really wasn't that great (especially when our guess at what was needed/wanted was off). What we've done the past few years is get together and paint pottery. Since we don't live in the same city we are both most excited just to have time to hang out. We usually each pay our own way and call it a day (remember, this is for Christmas, for a birthday one would probably treat). Having the time together is better than any thing that we could buy.

I also like the idea of gift cards for services. Sometimes it's hard to justify spending money on yourself for that type of thing, but it's SO nice when you do. I love getting my nails done. If we're ever together and you want to go, just say the word!

andrea said...

I love your idea! For my birthday last month I asked my mom to take me to Dresden shopping for a day. This way we get to go somewhere we'll both enjoy and I can pick out my own present. Also, a group on my cousins have started celebrating each of our 30th b-days together with a trip to the salon. We get pedicures and go out to lunch and enjoy a wonderful day together. As we're getting older, I agree that "stuff" isn't necessary but quality time together is the best gift anyone can give/receive. And once you pop out Little L, you'll realize that time with your girlfriends is a real gift!

cat said...

I'm in a similar boat. When there's something I want/need, I just buy it. (Plus having my bday and xmas so close makes it tough the rest of the year to wait.) I definitely LOVE when people get me gift cards to the salon! I hate spending the money on massages, but I can't live without them! So I don't think that there's anything wrong with suggesting a gift like that. And I hear preggo massages are awesome! ;)

M. Lubbers said...

It's good to hear that I'm not alone in wanting services more than stuff, and that other people think it's okay to ask for it! When my sister asked me this past weekend what I wanted for my birthday, I went ahead and told her I wanted to do something with her, whether it was coffee and book shopping or pedicures or what-have-you. So thanks for the advice:)

Jessi: We'll have to go sometime!

Andrea: I like the idea of spending your 30th birthday getting pampered at a salon.

Cat: I've also heard that pregnancy massages are good, but I just can't imagine how you'd get comfortable on that table!?! If I try it out, I'll let you know.