Sunday, January 6, 2013

Challenge #1: Gifts

One of the biggest challenges I anticipate facing this year is the question of what to do about gifts. 

I love giving gifts and try to do it as much as possible, but there are some things that bother me about gift-giving culture these days:

1. First, I am really uncomfortable with "obligatory" gifts, where you feel you must get a person something for a holiday or event and end up buying them random junk because you don't know what to get them and can't show up with nothing. In high school, this obligatory present was often manifested in Bath & Body Works lotion gift sets (I think I still have a few of those lying around my parents' house).

2. I really don't like registries. Really, really don't like them. I understand that they are very commonplace these days, and that people put out registries with the absolute best of intentions in order to help out their guests, but they still make me really uncomfortable. (Sorry to those of you who love registries -- I know for some guests and celebrants they just make everything easier!). Partly this is because I think the best part of a present is the surprise aspect and the thought put into it, which you don't necessarily get with a gift off of a registry, and the other part is just feeling really uncomfortable with the idea of giving someone else my shopping list to have them go out and buy a specific item and wrap it up for me. It just doesn't feel genuine.  So yes, no judgement whatsoever to those who are fans of registries, but I personally really don't like them.

(Above, my solution to my first gift-giving dilemma of 2013)

So this past weekend we had a family baby shower to go to, and I wanted to bring something that was more a little more personalized than a registry item, yet not something totally useless or random (like a re-gifted lotion gift set :) ). We knew we wanted to give them a gift certificate to a local hot tub spot (as the mommy-to-be has been sincerely missing her ability to sit in a hot tub for the past 8 months!), but wanted to bring something else tangible for them to open at the shower. 

My solution was this diaper cake. I found a beautiful platter at goodwill, put a bottle of homemade wine in the middle (the significant other is an excellent vintner), and surrounded the bottle with approximately 80 eco-friendly diapers (well, as eco-friendly as disposables can be!). I then purchased a few baby bath items (sponges, wash cloths) and the Ernie cake topper (they love muppets) new. 

Thus the present was part used, part homemade, and part new, which I felt was a good compromise. And the parents-to-be loved it, which made me happy.

I think that gifts are going to have to be somewhat of an exception to my rules this year. I will definitely try to utilize used and homemade items, but when used or homemade is not appropriate, or when I find something new that is perfect for the recipient, I'm not going to restrict myself, because I love giving presents and seeing the smiles on people's faces when they receive them :)

Basically this was just a really long post about a diaper cake, but I hope you enjoyed!


  1. Your diaper cake is adorable.

    On registries: I enjoyed creating one for the wedding, knowing that I had friends and family members that would be more comfortable picking from a list (and knowing that I didn't want to receive too much random stuff that wasn't our style). That said, I highly recommend the Honeyfund route - while I love my Le Creuset and I'm glad it was on the registry, registering for "experiences" on your honeymoon is super awesome. And no reason it has to be limited to the honeymoon either, right? Who says you can't register for classes in your hometown or something?

    1. Thanks, Kim!

      As far as registries, I love the idea of registering for experiences and thought your Honeyfund was awesome! I know some people really like having the option of picking things from a list (and that this keeps you from getting 7 crockpots), so I totally support people having registries. I just personally have an unnatural hatred for them, so usually avoid them.

      I will keep your suggestion of registering for experiences in mind, as I will hopefully need ideas like this in the near future :)

    2. When a couple has a registry, I usually try to get one thing off the registry (since if it's on there, duh, they want it), and then something else that I've made myself or hand-picked.

    3. This is totally off topic, but how do I do the Disqus thing for my blog? I'm such a blog newbie :)

    4. Go to and click the big orange button that says "Get this on your site" :)

  2. I often feel almost indignant toward wedding registries. Mostly because I feel like to whole idea of expecting new things for getting married just feeds that unhealthy consumerism that you're addressing with this whole endeavor. Generations ago, when people tended to marry very young it made sense to help new couples just starting out to supply their new home. But these days, especially around here, people getting married have already established themselves and some sort of home inventory fairly well. And in those cases it feels like a registry is a way of asking for upgrades, which, to me, just comes off as indulgent. Of course, no registry obliges any guest to buy from it, but it doesn't feel that way. I was even invited to a bridal shower once that had a registry on top of the wedding registry and I just thought "C'mon!" It just seems so materialistic and spoiled. (Ironically this was for a person who, a few years before that, complained about another couple making a Honeyfund, after holding their wedding abroad.)

    I've always admired when couples recognize that their household needs are met and don't register. Twice, I've gone to weddings for couples who specifically asked for NO gifts, yet ended up registering for a HoneyFund mainly to accommodate old-fashioned types who felt the need to give something. It's more appropriate for the times and supporting a couple's experiences truly honors a union, whereas a new set of tumblers does not.

    For baby showers, I feel a bit differently because those really are designed to help the parents with things they really need. That said, I also prefer to do something personal but want to support their real needs so I often get something from the registry (or something off the registry, but still very practical that other parents tell me you can never have enough of) and another more personal item. My favorite gifts to give AND receive are unique which often means used, vintage, or handmade. But I also recognize there are a lot of specific needs around having a baby, so I've thought about this a lot lately and struggled with it in deciding whether or not to even have my own shower.