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Rocking the Gift Giving

2010 will be the year that I rocked the gift giving, though 2011 is already working out to be a killer gift giving year as well.

I love giving gifts. The only problem is that I never know what to get people. I don’t go out shopping unless I really really have to, and by that I mean, I only have two pairs of pants, and I’ve finally ended up on a day when they’re both dirty so I can no longer avoid the fact that I must go buy new pants. In which case, I drive to Macy’s, make a beeline for the pants I want, try them on, buy them, and leave. I don’t browse, I don’t look at other stuff. So I never know what’s out there, what cool stuff is calling my name.

So when someone’s birthday comes up, or Christmas is finally right around the corner, I’m kind of at a loss. But not in 2010.

In talking about gift giving, I have to mention the hat I gave my husband for Christmas in 2009. I had been knitting for a year or a year and a half by then, and he’d been constantly bugging him about making him a Steeler’s hat. So a couple of months before Christmas, I found a pattern, bought the yarn, and learned to knit in the round. I knitted him this hat while he was gone and when I’d go to my knitting group. When I finally gave it to him to open on Christmas, the last present he would open, I thought he was going to cry. That said more to me than any words he could have said.

Then in 2010, a friend of mine, a new mother, was complaining to me that all she’d wanted for her birthday was a massage. Her husband, for whatever reason, hadn’t gotten her the massage. I’d been wanting a massage, so I scheduled both of us for a massage (not a couple’s massage — separate massages), and took her on a surprise outing to get the massage. That was one of the best ideas I’ve had, since I got to benefit from it too. 😉

A couple of months ago, I was reading a local comics’ blog, Pearls Before Swine, and he’d mentioned that he’d autographed a bunch of books at a local bookstore, and if you wanted one, you should call and buy one. They sell out pretty quick — I know, because I’ve tried to buy one before, and I’m local! So I checked his FAQ page, emailed him, and asked if he’d mind personalizing one of his books for me for a friend, who I knew would LOVE it. After hitting send, I went back to his FAQ page, read it more carefully, and saw he doesn’t personalize books. *headdesk* So I emailed him again, and was all, Sorry, I’m lame, didn’t catch the part about not personalizing books, ignore my email. Because isn’t it annoying when you specifically say, I don’t do this, then someone says, Hey, can you do this for me? Imagine my surprise when I get an email 2 minutes later, asking me where I’m at. After a couple of back and forth emails, he says, If you can come to Copperfield’s in 15 minutes, I’ll do it. I drove over, and we chatted for a half hour, he personalized the book for my friend, and I tried not to faint (he’s rather good looking). He said he really doesn’t personalize books, but I happened to catch him when he was already at Copperfield’s, and he’d given an interview that day, so he was feeling chatty. SCORE! The only thing better than the perfect gift for someone is the perfect gift that is otherwise impossible to get.

Fast forward to Christmas. Dave, myself, and his mom all tell each other specifically what we’d like for Christmas…within reason. 😉 Dave’s mom is always concerned about how much money we spend on her, while I’m only concerned that we buy her something she needs and/or loves and/or will use. When Dave and I told her the gender of the baby at Thanksgiving, we also showed her all the sonograms we’d gotten, one of which was a side view of the baby with his arm up near his face. She told me later that she didn’t sleep well for a few days after that because she would just lay awake  thinking of that one sonogram picture. So one of the things that I got her was a framed copy of that particular sonogram picture. I figured if she was that moved by it, she might as well have a copy so she can look at it all the time until the baby comes. I knew I’d get a few tears out of her for that gift, but had no idea the other gift would be such a winner!

In chatting with Dave’s mom sometime between Thanksgiving and Christmas, she mentioned how she’d really like an iPod someday. She’d never ask for one because it’s significantly over any unspoken Christmas limit, but I knew that would be the perfect gift. We didn’t spend Christmas together because she was down with her daughter and grandchildren in San Diego, so we got together yesterday to exchange the last few gifts we had. I could have bought the iPod and sent it down with her, but I was concerned she might make a big deal out of how much it costs. Yes, it’s on the expensive side, but I decided that this year was not the year to scrimp on gifts, since there’s only two of us and we have three incomes. Next year, when there’s three of us on two incomes, we’ll get her something more modest. But this year? Spoil her!

I knew she’d cry over the sonogram picture, but she cried even more over the iPod! She was so happy to get it! She can’t stop talking about it and can’t wait to get it loaded up. And that’s how I knew it was worth it. I got her exactly what she wanted, even though she didn’t ask for it.

I’m hitting a dry spell with gift giving ideas, though. My hairdresser, who I consider a friend, is finally opening her own salon tomorrow. It’ll just be her and another girl to start out, but she’ll be on her own and she won’t be renting a chair from anyone again. But what should I get her? What would be a nice gift for someone opening their own hair salon?

And what are some of the best gifts you’ve ever given or been given?

26 comments »

26 Responses to “Rocking the Gift Giving”

  1. Pam ()

    For a salon I would go and get a gift card for Sally or some other beauty supplier for your friend to help stock her shelves with great products. I pride myself on being an awesome gift giver. My husband and kids and family are always pleased 😀

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I’m jealous of awesome gift givers! 😀

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  2. Melissa ()

    I don’t think I’m such a good gift giver so I don’t know what I would get someone who has a salon. A pair of lucky shears? See…that was awful. Really awful.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Actually, you gave me a great idea of what to get her, I just have to figure out how to make it happen. See! You’re better than you thought. 😉

    [Reply]

  3. zibilee ()

    Wow! You did have a great gift giving streak this year! I gave some pretty good gifts this year as well, though I am kind of partial to just giving gift cards, because that way the person can get exactly what they like. I am not sure what to suggest for the others on your list, but if your streak ends up holding, I am sure you will be able to come up with the perfect something just in time!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I have to admit, I do love gift cards. Especially to bookstores. 😉 And actually, that’s something that Dave’s mom had on her list. Really, gift cards are a great gift!

    [Reply]

  4. Jenny ()

    Oh, here’s the trick for giving gifts. I figured it out because my family is possibly the family most psychotically in love with Christmas and Christmas gifts of any family that has ever existed on this earth. When you spend time with people, they always talk about things they want at some point, and then all you have to do is make a mental note. (Or a physical note — my Moleskine note book is one of my favorite things ever.) Once you start paying attention, you notice that people are constantly telling you what they want for Christmas. :p

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    AH! Such a great idea! I’ll definitely start writing more things down. That’s the problem — I think I’ll remember, and then I don’t. 🙁

    Also, since I always have my phone with me, I don’t even have the excuse that I don’t have pen and paper!

    [Reply]

  5. Veens

    Actually getting someone exactly what they wanted and surprising them.. is an awesome thinG! I love this post 🙂

    I think I like the idea by the 1st commenter!

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Pam did have some good ideas, didn’t she?

    [Reply]

  6. Jeane

    I am so like you when it comes to shopping (especially clothes!) and also notoriously awful at giving gifts. I always notice when someone tells me something they’d like, but then forget so easily! I should keep notes on paper. Sorry, no ideas on the salon lady…

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Aw, and that’s one reason I love you, Jeane. Shopping twins and pregnancy twins! Wheeeee!!

    [Reply]

  7. Bonnie

    A new salon might need a personalized cape/coverup, towels, appointment books, address book/file for new customers, business cards, a plant for decor, or coat tree/rack.

    Jenny hit the exact way to find the perfect gift: spend time with that person and pay attention. So gift giving for people you don’t see often is most difficult.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    A personalized cape is a great idea! I know the style she likes, so that would be fun!

    [Reply]

  8. Jen Forbus ()

    Like Bonnie and Jenny, I find my best gifts from just listening to what people say. It might be something they admire but wouldn’t buy for themselves. It might be something they can really use. I have a friend who doesn’t want more “stuff.” She’s trying to downsize, but she loves animals, especially elephants. So I adopted her an elephant at the zoo. She adored that gift.

    When my sister was first starting out after college, I went and stayed with her. Because she was living on a military base, she had a two-bedroom furnished apartment. But she didn’t have enough bedding to cover he second bed. She had this ratty old blanket on it. So, I bought her a comforter and crocheted her an afghan. Now, ten years later, she still has both. The comforter is a bit on the ratty side, but she loves the afghan, and the second lighter weight one I made her…and everywhere she’s moved, those have stayed with her.

    For the salon, I’d suggest something to commemorate her accomplishment. Something she’ll have forever. Maybe it’s a picture/plaque to hang, or a frame to put her first dollar in. But something that recognizes her reaching a goal.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    You’re so inspiring, Jen! Hmm…something to commemorate her accomplishment. I love that idea! I’ll put my brain to work and see what I can come up with.

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  9. Novelwhore ()

    Wow you are an accomplished & generous gift giver! I’m very impressed with your Steelers hat – I received a round loom for Christmas this year and hope to be skilled enough to gift handmade hats next year. We’ll see though. I’d love to see a picture of your creation.

    I’m with Bonnie about the personalized gift for your friend opening a salon. Business cards with her new information would be thoughtful and appreciated. Or even just helping her drive business – bring in a friend for a mani/pedi so she can have a great experience and want to return.

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    I’ll send you a picture of the hat. I know I’ve got it somewhere. It actually turned out really good!

    I started knitting on a round loom, so beware, it might open up a whole world for you!

    [Reply]

  10. Trisha ()

    I love the idea of buying her a frame to put her first dollar in. And maybe some of those pens with giant flowers on the end of them (for customers to use; it makes them hard to steal and they look cool) just for fun.

    I only come up with awesome gift ideas about once or twice a year. And usually the awesome idea is for my mom, so no one else really benefits from my moments of inspiration. 🙂

    [Reply]

    trish Reply:

    Okay, two votes for the frame for the first dollar. I’m on it!

    At least you have awesome gift ideas for your mom! Usually I don’t have ANY ideas! 😉

    [Reply]

  11. jennygirl

    You have had a banner run on the gift giving girl. Also didn’t know or remember you were also a fellow knitter. Power to the sticks!

    Gift for Salon owner….I echo what others said, gift cert to Sally’s or a nice frame for her fisrt dollar. What does her shop window look like? Could you decorate it or something, or get some nice plants for the window or even the shop? Maybe magazine subscriptions for her waiting area, or a coffe pot or something.

    Sorry but I am not good at gift giving.

    [Reply]

  12. Emily R

    A childhood best friend gave me a pink sony e-reader at a really low time in my life. It was one of the best, emotionally touching gifts I have ever been given. I will never forget it. I miss her to death, and I love her very much.

    [Reply]

  13. Sheila DeChantal ()

    SO many great ideas! I was going to say give her a massage or a manicure/pedicure as I think opening up your own salon (or any new business) has to carry some stress and anxiety with it. Any way to give her a relaxing day….

    However, I am grabbing a pen and writing some of these ideas down… I wish I was a better gift giver but I usually procrastinate and then do something last minute.

    [Reply]

  14. Jenny

    I would get her a gift card to a local cleaning company.

    If she just opened her new business, she is going to be super busy and getting her house cleaned will help take the load off.

    [Reply]

  15. Emily R

    You are totally are not going to believe this! I called the animal shelter to see if they had a reccomendation for an inexpensive vet for our dog, Milo. He has epilepsy, he has been having seizures every month, and we can’t afford an exam and his medication. Every vet wants $300. The worker asked around. Someone was visiting the facility, overheard, and said,”I will pay for her bills.” This anonymous person called me, told me to make an appoinment at our vet for Milo, and to call them, and that they would pay for the bill and his first month’s medicine! Holy crap! I thought that it was a practical joke at first! But it turns out that it was some rich lady from Telluride! I asked her what she wants in return, but all she asked was for me to tell people to adopt dogs, not buy from breeders, and that when I can afford to, to make a donation to the ASPCA. I am totally floored!

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  16. nat @book, line, and sinker ()

    i really stress over giving people ‘the ultimate’ gift and it’s getting to the point where i’m out of ideas. lol. last year i vowed to listen to people all year long and when he or she mentioned what they’d ‘love’, i entered it into my phone. it made shopping a snap and people were really happy (and surprised) with their ‘perfect’ gifts because they didn’t remember telling me! the best gift i ever gave was a complete family narrative and genealogy chart to my dad. he doesn’t have any family left, so the history of his parents, grandparents, and beyond was really special to him. i spent months in new york city in the libraries and writing to the department of records, but it was well worth the effort.

    [Reply]

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