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Gift Giving Dilemma — what would you do?

February 22, 2008

After recently being shocked by my estimated yearly gift budget (I’ve never added that stuff up!), I found myself at Target yesterday evening shopping for my sister’s birthday. Which, by the way, was last month. With the move, I’m way behind on…. everything. She still loves me though.

I usually spend $50 a head on both Christmas and birthdays for family, but I am now thinking that $40 sounds like a better number this year.  I had a $20 gift card parents sent for Valentines day, but I used most of it on necessary toiletries and the birthday cards (what a rip off). I collected some things I knew she’d like that added up to roughly $40 and headed home. I searched my email archives to find her address (who needs an address book?) and the first thing that popped up an order for a birthday present I’d already sent her! It was a partial present for about $20 that I’d sent earlier, and forgotten about because I’m never early!

Now what? I spent $20 too much on her! For a second I though “cool, I can use some of this stuff for myself!” Which is totally silly–it isn’t anything I need, just little treats that aren’t in my budget anyway. Then I thought I might return a couple things and get a toilet bowl brush (I really need one) and perhaps a new towel (it is a little sad that I’m buying a single towel at a time!). Then I thought maybe I should just stop being so money focused (or as some might say, “cheap”) and send it all anyway. It was money I thought I was going to be spending in the first place. This last approach is slightly unfair to my other sister, who recently received a birthday gift that was about $45, though she’ll never know.

So, what would you do?

(PS- it took my like five tries to spell dilemma… I will never be a spelling bee champion)

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. February 22, 2008 10:50 am

    You are very generous already by my standards. $20 is plenty to spend on a gift to show that person is in your thoughts and you care about them. That’s the purpose of a gift after all. And this is assuming a card with a nice note wouldn’t work, that is what I prefer to give most people on my list.

  2. sjean permalink*
    February 22, 2008 12:06 pm

    I spend less of friends, but I feel like she spends more than that on me. Same with my parents (though they are parents) and I feel while being frugal is good, gift giving really isn’t the place for it, at least not when it comes to my family.

    As for my other sister, she is in college and spends less on me (i’m sure) but her main source of clothes and other “want” items is gifts.

    It is to show I care, but more than just a token to do that–also to give her something that will give her pleasure and be useful.

  3. February 22, 2008 12:46 pm

    You could always start a “gift closet” and save some of those trinkets for the next gift-giving occassion that comes around. Or if you really need some stuff, return a few items and get what you need.

    I’d worry about sending TOO much stuff because then next year (or at Christmas) you’ll realize (or she will) that you’ve raised the bar on gift-giving. This may actually strain HER budget too as she tries to shop for you.

  4. February 22, 2008 12:53 pm

    I spend around $50 for my sister, mom and dad for their birthdays too. More (about $150/each) for Christmas. They are the only ones I buy for though, other than my goddaughter.

    I don’t think spending $45 on one and $60 on the other will matter much, I’m sure they’re not keeping track. They must appreciate it because it’s from you 🙂

  5. sjean permalink*
    February 22, 2008 1:03 pm

    @Meg – That is brilliant, I think that is what I’ll do! I don’t really need to return the stuff in order to buy a toilet brush, and I would feel kind of silly doing it.

    My mom’s birthday is next month and the bubble bath + candle can be diverted to her gift (about $10 worth). I’ll just give her the other extra $10 worth of stuff and perhaps make sure she remembers that I got her shoes so she doesn’t think I’m cheaping out. (not because I want her to spend equal on me, but because she thinks I’m too frugal sometimes. And I am, but not when it comes to gifts.)

  6. Andrew Stevens permalink
    February 22, 2008 4:29 pm

    What is this thing you call “too frugal”?

  7. February 23, 2008 10:40 am

    I agree with CanadianSaver – they’re just happy to get a thoughtful gift from you… not so much on the cost of it

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