March 7, 2009

Husband's Compact-y Birthday

I've mentioned that my biggest concern about joining The Compact has been what to do about gifts. I want to practice a generous form of frugality, rather than a miserly one. In short, I don't want to be cheap.

My husband is incredibly easy to buy for, in the sense that he never expects anything and is happy with almost anything he gets. The one exception to this is the time I spent weeks researching and what was for me a lot of money ($500) to buy him a piano. But that's another story...

This birthday we had a delicious lunch at a nice Italian restaurant using a gift card I'd gotten for donating to our public radio station. It felt really decadent (in a good way) eating pasta and drinking wine in the middle of the day. Later we went with some friends to have martinis and listen to live music at our favorite 50's era Italian restaurant down the street. So I guess the theme of the day was la dolce vita. My husband does love his pizza and pasta. Luckily, my pledge to buy nothing new hasn't kept us from enjoying wine or eating out or listening to music.

I also baked him a vanilla double layer cake, and for the first time I managed to frost it without the crumbs haunting me every time I spread the spatula across the cake. Crumbs peeking through, mocking my efforts. I wish I knew what was different about my method this time, but I have no idea.

Now for the Compact-y part of the celebration, the gift rundown:
*One giant Reese's heart, saved from Valentine's Day. Cost: $2.99
*3 used DVDs (2 still in plastic wrap): Raising Arizona, American Beauty, and Rififi (a 50s French noir caper). Cost: free (a good friend was selling his entire library and wouldn't take any payment for the few I picked out).
*2 Hawaiian shirts from Goodwill. Cost: $8.98
If my math is correct, I think that's a total cost of $11.97. Not bad.

So far, I haven't had any problems buying gifts for friends and relatives. I think it will be harder to buy a wedding gift or a baby shower present. What do you think about trying to stick with a Buy-Nothing-New philosophy when buying gifts? Any ideas for generous wedding or baby shower gifts? Please share your thoughts.


Marylyn said...

This seems like the place to mention ebay! You can find great items, barely used, sometimes even advertised as "new," but out of the box, so they aren't REALLY new. As you know, they have EVERYTHING there, so wedding and birthday and baby shower gifts would probably abound. I have been getting my SHOES there, with excellent luck as far as price and condition and fit.

Anonymous said...

I have found that buying tickets for concerts, the theatre or sporting events are happily received!
For a wedding we attended recently, the bride and groom asked for no presents, but if we did want to give presents, they would be most appreciative of travel gift cards ( we purchased these from the travel agent for them). These went towards their honeymoon.
Baby shower gifts are a bit trickier....when our niece was born, we purchased $1000 of Managed Funds for her (portfolio of shares). Not as cute as a newborn outfit and a fluffy bunny, but she will be very happy when she turns 21 and receives her little nest egg!

Angela said...

Great ideas! I have to become more comfortable with ebay- I have barely ever used it. I didn't know there was stuff that's new enough to give as a gift. The last wedding gift I bought, before I was doing a No-Buy Year, was a new-style picnic basket- it's a backpack that keeps things hot and cold and has plastic wine glasses and plates and napkins inside- it all folds up into a comfortable backpack- plus theater tickets to our favorite summer outdoor theater. So I love the idea of concert tickets, travel cards, etc. And wow- that is quite a nice gift for your niece- she certainly will be happy when she turns 21...
Thanks for the great tips...

calimama said...

I don't know how it works today but in the past Ebay had a section for items "in your area". This would at least eliminate the shipping, one reason I am less inclined to shop online for used items unless really needed.

Theatre, event tickets are a great idea. I've also given service gift cards (massage, pedicure, etc.) as this benefits the community (so preferably no chain salons!) as well as the recipient.

The children's resale store Children's Orchard has some really great stuff for babies through young kids. Great for gifts! Find a location near you online.

Angela Barton said...

thanks for the ideas. I'm definitely going to check out Children's Orchard. I love speesees for baby clothes- they make organic cotton stuff that is so soft and so cute- but I'm going to take a break from them this year.

Anonymous said...

Angela I love your No Buy birthday gifts for you fella. For Valentines this year, I made Boyfriend a card and wrote a story about how we met and our first date. He really liked it and it cost nothing but time. He's really hard to please. So i felt good about giving him something unique that only I could give him.
For my niece's 16th birthday, i gave her antique jewelry that had belonged to my grandmother (her great grandmother) with a card explaining how, when I was a little girl, I had admired my grandma wearing the pieces I passed along to her. It meant so much to my niece. The best gifts don't come from a store or cost a lot. The best presents are gifts of spirit and love.

Angela said...

Those are both such thoughtful gifts. If I have time, my husband actually does love those kind of gifts the best- a special card with something specific written inside about him, etc.
And I love the gift to your niece- two of my most treasured possessions are my grandmother's necklace from the 1920s and my great aunt's ring from the same era- not only are they stylish and beautiful and just my style- they're something that makes me feel connected to my family and the past.
Thanks for writing- I wish you would write your first name- are you the same "anonymous" who wrote about baking bread awhile back?

WilliamB said...

If the baby is local, offer the parents services: clean the house or part of it. Do a few loads of laundry, including folding. Go shopping for them (they give you a list and the money). Run errands. Drive them places. Drive their houseguests places. Give mom a massage. Make them several dinners for the freezer, or a coffee cake to have on hand for guests.

If not local, that's harder. I can't offer you anything useful that you probably haven't thought of already.

No wait, I had an idea. Does Netflix count as goods or services? You could give them a Netflix account (at least 2 at a time) for, say, 3 months. New parents often find themselves holding the baby and not able to do much else. Good time to catch up on movies and TV shows.

Angela said...

Great ideas, William B! You're all over my blog- I'm just finding these old comments! I love the ideas for new parents!