Saturday, December 01, 2012

A Christmas Shopping Guide for All of the Jule Anns on Your List

Things not to get for a Jule Ann for Christmas:

  1. Earrings. My ears aren't pierced, and I like them that way. Buying me earrings makes me think that you don't pay very much attention to me.
  2. Scented lotions, perfume sprays, body washes, etc. I'm a very utilitarian bathroom user. I use one kind of unscented lotion, which I buy in huge bottles, I use one kind of soap, and my only "perfume" is the baby powder scent of my deodorant. I rarely take baths, and when I do, I prefer my bath water un-scented and un-bubbled. I already have a shelf full of miscellaneous scented beauty products from past gift-giving occasions, used two or three times each. I try to use them, to honor the spirit of the gift, knowing that someone was trying to do a nice thing for me and make me feel pampered. But I'm just not the pampering type, and instead, all they do is make me feel guilty about good money that was wasted on something I won't use.
  3. Gift cards. I get it, I do. You want to give me something, but you don't want to choose something I won't use, like earrings or strawberry body lotion. A gift card lets me pick whatever gift I want! But gift cards stress me out. I'm not the most organized person in the world, and having gift cards sitting in a box by the door, taunting me with a certain amount money that I need to spend in a certain way, at a certain place, on certain things, adds an irrational extra stressor to my life. I hate shopping as it is, and adding that extra element of having to worry about which stores I have gift cards for makes the whole prospect of shopping that much more daunting. That might sound crazy, and maybe it is, but it's how I feel.
    Not to mention the fact that I think the whole gift card industry is a scam. You're giving your money to corporations now, which they get to hold onto (interest-free!) for an indeterminate amount of time without giving you any goods or services until the following tax year. Plus, you can't get change from a gift card, so they are either making sure that you leave them with a few unspent dollars on the tail end of the card, or they are making sure that you buy a little something extra that you probably didn't need to use up the card.
  4. Clothes that you think I should like. I actually like getting clothing as a gift, but I'm kinda set in my ways style-wise. I've tried to break out of my clothing comfort zone a few times, but I usually end up sidelining those articles of clothing for the old stand-bys. And if someone gets me a sweater vest for Christmas, I will probably look at it and say, "Well, it's not really my style, but maybe I should give it a chance!" And I won't return it, because I always feel bad returning things that people put time and effort and thought into choosing for me, but I'll probably only wear it twice before I forget about it and it falls to the back of my closet.
Things to get for a Jule Ann for Christmas:

  1. Things that you have lying around that you think I would use. I am not one of those people who cares about original packaging. Repurposed gifts please my frugal heart. Some of the best gifts for me are things like:
    • "I heard you like to crochet, would you like this big bag of yarn that I'm never going to use?"
    • "You still use a VCR, right? Do you want these old VHS tapes?"
    • "I was going to give this bag of dresses to Goodwill, do you want to go through them first and see if you want any of them?"
  2. Do something for me. My Love Language, without question, is Acts of Service. Nothing makes me happier, or makes me feel more loved, than having people do things for me. And best of all, it costs you nothing! A few ideas, if you want to put an Act of Service on your not-shopping list:
    • Come over for an hour sometime and help me clean. My house always needs cleaning.
    • Pull apart the dashboard of my car and take the pennies out of my CD player. It probably won't take more than an hour or two (I actually have no idea - I've never done anything like that myself), and I'll get a working car CD player at no cost to either of us!
    • Babysit the kids sometime, so I can have some solitary time, or so Jeremy and I can go on a date.
  3. Cash. I know, I know. Cash is a lame gift. But it's SO much better than gift cards! I get to put it in my bank account and spend it at any store I want. If you want to direct my spending, you can stick a little note to the cash saying, "This is for you to buy a new coat," or, "This is for you to go to the movies with Jeremy," or, "Buy some deodorant, hippie, you stink!" I'll tell you what: If you give me cash for Christmas with a note, I will take a picture of me holding/wearing/doing whatever I spent your money on, and send it to you. Everybody gets something fun out of it!
  4. Anything with a shared story or a memory attached. Two of my favorite gifts ever were presented with the following introductions:
    • "You know how you always make big pot of kettle corn for us when we watch LOST every week? I just saw this stove-top popcorn popper at a garage sale, and I thought it would be easier than using your big pot."
    • "You remember when we were at that cabin together, and we were always fighting over the awesome lap duvet? I finally found a place to buy them! (I got one for myself, too.)"
  5. Clothes that jump off of the rack screaming my name at you. As I said above, I do like getting clothing as a gift. And some people really excel at buying me clothes that fall straight from the box into daily rotation. If you are one of those people, go for it! I love fun clothes.
  6. Photos of you and your family. I love pictures! And I love having your face smiling at me from the fridge or the door or the photo ledges. Photo gifts are one of my favorite things to receive.
  7. Nothing at all. You don't have to get me anything, really. Not even if I got you something; I don't keep score. (If I did keep score, I would be humbled at how deeply in gift debt I really am, and I would feel even more guilty about all of the wonderful gifts I receive every year.) I believe that gift-giving should come from the heart, not out of a sense of obligation. I try to practice what I preach, too, and give gifts myself in a deliberately unequal manner. If I see something I think you will love, I might just get it for you for no reason at all, and if I don't find the right gift, I might not get you anything for Christmas this year. I think gifts are a lot more fun when they come unexpectedly as inspiration strikes, rather than when the calendar says they must.

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