Giving gifts

Thank Pauline, again inspiring a post!  How much do you spend on gifts – and why?

This is obviously a little more of a review, than a ‘pre’ Christmas thing.  But it’s something I grappled with this Christmas, being in a new relationship (and it’s a long time, it seems, since I was last in one!)

**Sorry for the stray balloon about halfway down – and the less than readable font. I’m very new to this, so I’m having some teething issues – but this post I learnt how to have subtitles, so that’s all VERY exciting!**


I roughly budget about $150-200 per person for Christmas (Mum, Dad, and my two younger brother – big bro and little bro (one is tall… and older than the other).  Admittedly, some years I run away overseas, and they have to settle for about $20-$50 gifts.  I feel OK when I ‘scrimp’ (in my eyes) cause my mother at least thinks I’m very generous.  I don’t mind spending when I know it’s a gift they’ll like or use.  This year, mum and dad got tickets to Bruce Sprinsteen.  Little bro got a money transfer – whilst i could have got him something, he was leaving for a Europe trip, so I figure cash was simple!  Big bro heard about the cash… and so he got a pail filled with the same amount of money in $2, $1, 50c and 20c coins.  I was so proud – he’s someone who finds money burning a hole in his pocket, so this was my crafty way to be equal with his bro – but slow him down (he also has a sense of humour!).  The upside of the “change” gift was that it took to bulk of coinage that was littering the floor at the BF’s place – win win!


Oh, did I struggle with this one! Before he went home to his family, i got him two ‘joke’ presents – things that had some up in conversations.  So, clothes pegs (or pins), and a scrubbing brush that you can put the liquid in!  Oh and a card.  I did this the night before he went away.  He didn’t want to open them – and I wanted to make sure he did, lest he think I was uber serious… Needless to say, he still went home and returned with generosity! (and… then I knew where to pitch my non joke gift’s value – about the same as my family above!).  So today he should hopefully get his gift voucher in the mail – let’s hope he likes it, cause if he doesn’t, I’ll happily use it! It’s a helicopter flight over Sydney Harbour – given he loves sailing, and has only lived in the city a short while, i think it’ll be good (and I’ll happily buy myself a seat alongside him when he/we pick a date to do it!).

Pauline – I agree with you about guys paying for a few dates  – and my boy is incredibly generous with dates.  Thankfully there wasn’t any tech gagets he wanted, though there are a few things I know I could have sorted that he’d have liked (like sunglasses, or getting his car detailed) but they all seemed like they had a high chance of failure – wrong style or hard to sort out the car thing.

Extended Family

This is guided by established protocols – this year the deal was ‘no gifts except for Grandma’ – so I made her an album of our family’s photos.  It’s such a relaxing and fun hobby – even if I only took a few nights to get it done.  And there’s so many leftover pages, I might get charged with adding other families…  Otherwise, some years it’s $50 per person you are charged with giving to.  I handle all 5 people our family draws out – seems I love thinking and getting a great gift – and my mum loves letting me… mostly!


Generally, I implement a strict no gift policy.  Works better with some groups better than others.  So this year I had to reciprocate (in a MAD hurry) cause the past two years they’ve not given me anything (and I’m OK with that!).  Anyhow, I went for about $50 each – which got a cookbook, or a lantern as suited the couples.  I’m pretty sure I ‘over’ compensated, but I’d rather do that, than scrimp – cause I feel like all year I bring less alcohol to things, and all my friends so generously offer their’s to me…


This year, I did nothing.  In the past, I made mini cakes or the like.  This year, my neighbours got something similar – I was reaching out to people I’ve lived with for a year and still don’t know.  It was nice to slowly getting cards back from each of them – now to match faces to names! If only I’d had the courage to knock on doors to give them my Christmas brownies (and likewise…  all the cards were secretly squirreled to me, even when I was home!!)  Some very generous neighbours also gave me a book, and some others, some chocolates – really lovely!

I did however volunteer myself to help with the BF’s secret santa in the office – and I/we won hands down as the best gift! (helps that he had his fave staff member… maybe?).  I got a cheap glass saladier and filled it with jelly beans, and wrapped it amazingly (if I do say so myself) with cellophane and a big bow.  Certainly some wow factor for a $20 gift. (I’ll fess up, I’ve done this gift before for my cousins… )  Seems the office continues to eat the jelly beans now, and the recipient intends to top up the bowl – win win!

All in all, I think I got out of Christmas fairly easily.  I think in total I would have spent about $800, which certainly seems like a lot, but I do put more into Christmas than birthdays (easier to get a good lead time on Christmas – whereas birthdays sneak up on you!)


I would really like to have a zero waste home, as well as an uncluttered home.  Gifts scream potential for both of those!  So I’d rather say no to gifts than risk something I won’t use/enjoy/like!  That being said, my family are pretty happy to be ‘told’ what I’d like, and I can settle for that.  Some of the best gifts of all time were: a mini swiss army knife with USB (admittedly the USB is close to useless due to it’s small size in today’s terms, but the knife acts as a key ring, and I’d use the mini scissors close to daily) and a dress (I fought SO hard for them to not buy it for me – and they scoured the world, quite LITERALLY to get it for me, and of course, I couldn’t not wear it, and now I love it!?).

3 Replies to “Giving gifts”

  1. My favorite is the coins for your brother! What a cool idea! The helicopter ride will be a blast too, and a lasting memory for sure. Thanks for sharing! PS I quite like the balloons 🙂 Thank you for the mention.

    1. Thanks Pauline – the helicopter ride voucher was well received, now to get him to take the flight (or I'll just do it myself!) Does the balloon block some of the text for you though?

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