Episode #208: Gift Giving (Deep Dive)

The gift giving season is upon on us and it can be so hard to figure out what to get someone. Don’t worry, we got you covered. Plus, we are doing our book report on All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers.

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Show Notes:

Gift ideas for parents:

Gift certificates for locally-owned restaurants

Gift basket

Cutting board

Framed old photos


Gift ideas for kids:

Heirloom toys

Anything personalized like a puzzle

Doll that looks like them


Season passes

Gift ideas for siblings:

A weird cheese

Bottle of wine




Books you have read with a post-it saying what you thought of it

Advent calendar

Gift ideas for friends:




Body scrubs

Sugar scrubs



Gift ideas for co-workers:

Handmade mug

Homemade treats like: Puppy Chow, Snowball Cookies, Peanut Brittle, and Oreo Truffles)

Gift ideas for acquaintances like mailman, hair dresser, etc.:


Teacher Gift Ideas

What to do if you forgot to get someone a gift:

Keep gift cards in your purse for when you see someone

Keep a gift stash of stuff you got that you won’t use

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Episode 208 Transcript:

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast, your cozy comfort listen. The gift giving season is upon us, and it can be so hard to figure out what to get someone. Don’t worry, we have you covered. This is our gift giving deep dive. 

Elsie: I love this subject. I’m so excited to do this episode! Shopping for gifts is one of my favorite things to do. 

Emma: Yeah, I would say two out of the two of us you are more of an expert on it. You’re like one of those where you will be buying them throughout the year and saving them in the closet, like that whole thing, which is so smart. And I just get kind of frantic at the end. 

Elsie: It’s okay. Everyone does. Yeah. Okay. So before we jump in, I just wanted to share a little bit about our powerful. And the very beginnings of the holiday season are going so far. Yeah. So this was so special. We had a housewarming party., I did it and then yeah, a lot of podcast listeners were writing into me on Instagram because they saw that I got our grandma to wear the matching Halloween costume.So that was achieved. We did Halloween together. It was very cold but amazing. Oscar was so cute. The girls were both like, they love it! It’s like the perfect little Halloween neighborhood. So we had a beautiful, wonderful time. And then the next morning I woke up and at like 6:30 in the morning, started putting away the Halloween decorations and started getting out the Christmas decorations. So it is the most wonderful time of the year. Okay, so because we’re finally done with our phase, we don’t have contractors in our house every day. We’re basically done renovating. I feel way better. I am going to like, enjoy the full two months of Christmas decorations. So I think we’re going to talk about it more in an upcoming episode. But I think there’s nothing wrong with stretching it out as far as you humanly can if that’s what you want and for me, that’s what I want. Like it brings me so much joy. We started doing our snowflake windows and covering every single window with homemade snowflakes takes many, many, many days of work. 

Emma: It takes a long time. Yeah, making the snowflakes is actually a pretty labor intensive in a fun way, but it’s like you don’t want to put the pressure of, like, we’ve got to fill all these windows in one day, because I think that would actually make it not fun. 

Elsie: Yeah, I think that if I ever got to where I could put up all my Christmas decorations in one day, you would know that part of my soul had died. Like, I wouldn’t be me if I could do that.

Emma: I would assume you’re going on a trip and you’re like, I’ll be gone for three weeks, so I must put all the decorations up today or whatever. 

Elsie: Maybe if I had a team of like ten people to help me.

Emma  – Yeah, real HGTV team all of a sudden somehow just out for Christmas. Yeah. Oh, yeah. Nice. That’d be nice. 

Elsie: It’s magical. And we are so excited for Christmas. So we’re going to start doing our Christmas episodes. I know in a couple of weeks we are doing the Home Alone comfort rewatch. So this is your warning. If you want to watch ahead.

Emma: You are getting a good warning this time. Usually we only give you like one week. heads up. This is a good warning. This is like a few weeks away. Yeah, we’re on our game. Yeah, I must say, your Halloween party or housewarming party, it felt like a Halloween party. 

Elsie: It was a Halloween party, it just wasn’t a costume party. 

Emma: Yeah, it wasn’t a costume party, but it was epic. There was. We brought Oscars, so we only got to stay for about an hour and a half. But it was packed. People were having so much fun. Kids were wild. Like was upstairs with Oscar for a little bit on your third floor. And the kids were starting this rumor of there’s this, like, dark corner because it was nighttime and there’s a closet door. And they were making up this rumor among the kids that, like, if you open that door, you’ll die, or there’s a monster in the door. I heard a kind of, like, evolving among the older kids. And I didn’t correct them at all. I was like, I think that’s true to me. I was like, yeah, I’ve heard that before too, just from the last kid. But it was awesome. So I feel like already there’s stories being told about this house and yeah, it was epic. I also just think it was cool that you did a housewarming party because it’s hard to do stuff, squeeze it in around the holidays and renovating and working and kids being in school and all the things.  And so I just think, I think people loved it. I think people love seeing your house. 

Elsie: It felt like a good milestone. 

Emma: It was very warm. It was very cool to invite everyone over. And Oscar loved it. So he did not really hear the rumors about the closet he didn’t understand. 

Elsie: Oscar is a perfect age. Yeah, he likes to chase you and get squeezed. 

Emma: He just runs around and then gets distracted by the snack table again. That’s pretty much it. Are things. 

Elsie: Okay, so let’s jump into the gift giving deep dive. So we’re going to go through gifts for parents, kids, siblings, friends, coworkers. I think we should also do like significant others. And then like people who are like an acquaintance, maybe more in the tip category, like you have a favorite coffee shop you go to every day, your hairdresser, your mailman, the crossing guard, maybe at your kid’s school, things like that.

Emma: Daycare teachers? 

Elsie: Yes. Teachers for sure. And then we’re going to do our book report of All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers. Let’s start off with gifts for parents. 

Emma: Okay. So I last few years I was just going to talk about some gifts I did in the past because I obviously don’t want to spoil anything for this year because I know our parents listen. So anyway, I thought I would talk about some things past. So lately I’ve been doing more gifts for them together where it’s like not a gift for dad and a gift for mom. It’s a gift for them as a couple, which I feel like you could go either way, but our dad’s birthday in October, and I don’t know, I just feel like you can kind of spread things out. So one thing I did one year was I got them, I think 3 or 4 different gift certificates to locally owned restaurants. So it was kind of like buying them lunch a bunch of different times. And I tried to pick places that I didn’t think they’ve been before. I don’t really know. I think one of them had been before, but just something where it’s like, I know my parents like to go out and get lunch. So just something where it’s kind of encouraging them to try some different places, and it’s cool to support local restaurants, obviously. So that was part of the appeal and I think they really liked it too. 

Elsie: I am a big fan for parents of doing like the gift basket. That was my other one. A couple of years ago we did Nashville gift baskets. It was just like all things made in Nashville. They have the biscuit. Love the biscuit mix. And I think there’s some kind of chocolate and candles and I can’t honestly remember, but hot sauce for sure. So yeah, I think that those are both really, really good parent gifts. Yeah. 

Emma: Last year I did my like in my mind it was like fancy food basket. But really what I did was I went to like our nicer grocery store. It’s like our health food store is called Mama Jean’s and I just bought, like the fanciest olive oil and the fanciest honey, you know, just stuff that like you’ll use, but, like I don’t always buy myself the fanciest version of whatever when I’m grocery shopping, you know? So it’s like a nice gift, and you put it all together in a basket and you can make it cute. 

Elsie: That’s an Amazing gift. I definitely condone food gifts that are fancy. I just think it’s so exciting, like chocolates. And I mean, obviously, you need to check and make sure that the person doesn’t have food allergies or anything special.But like, I think it’s the best. I like gifts that you can use that are like, we’ll talk more about this, but like things that you don’t feel like add clutter to your home. So like candles and food are like some. And I love it when people bring me wine, obviously flowers, things like that, that you are going to enjoy it, but you don’t feel like you have to keep it forever. Like we don’t need a wedding registry full of stuff coming into our house every year and then feeling bad about it and like I do donate gifts and you should too. But it is kind of sad. And you do feel a little bad about it. 

Emma: Yeah. So I like gifts that you use consumables. 

Elsie: Okay. I have one more thing for parents. So last year I got our mom this cutting board from Etsy. I’m going to link it in the show notes. You’ve probably seen these before, but all you have to do is find a picture of an old recipe. So I texted my dad and I asked him to find a picture from our great grandma Lula of one of her recipes, and then he just sent me a phone picture. And then I just sent it into the Etsy shop. And they have this kind of etching, like burn it into the wood machine. The recipe card is like etched onto the cutting board. It was so pretty. And it happened to be like a year that our parents had renovated their kitchen. Iit was perfect. It was such a good little gift. And I’ve also seen people frame old recipes, like family recipes in the family’s handwriting. Framing those on the wall, I think is also a great gift. 

Emma: Like a fancy frame. I love a recipe card that’s clearly a little bit stained. You know what I mean? Like they spilled something as they were cooking like 20 years ago, and you know what I mean? It’s just so cute.

Elsie:  Yes. And then the last one is old family photos. I think you can never have enough old family photos framed in beautiful frames in your home. I just think that’s always a winning gift. And shopping for parents is hard. It’s one of the more challenging people on most people’s list. 

Emma: They have everything. 

Elsie: Yeah, and that’s fine. And you feel like since you’ve got them a gift every year, if you’re like, you know, an adult, you know, I mean, it’s like I’ve been buying my parents Christmas presents for more than 20 years, right? So it’s like this, more than 20 ideas that have been used. So yeah, I think the old family photos, it’s just like a hit, it can be very sentimental if someone in your family has passed on or for some reason you were telling a story or remembering someone, that kind of thing. 

Emma: With the family photos, these could be older, newer ones or just like grandkid pictures, whatever. But I also think a calendar is a great holiday gift because you’re so close to the new year anyway, but it could just be like pictures of the grandkids. Before I had kids, I made my mom like one that was like all pictures of my dog and it was just cute. It’s just like something. It could be very sentimental, but you could also make it kind of funny and silly, and it’s something they can just put on their fridge. Or our mom would keep it down in her painting room. So calendars and things like that, there’s tons of like if you go on any of those sites like Shutterfly or any of them, they have like options of different things you can make with photos, and you can also make them yourself by hand, but you can also just order them off of there. Yeah, I love those. Those are great gift ideas. 

Elsie: Okay, I think we did really good on the parents section. Okay, so the next one is gift ideas for kids. So I am assuming this is like for a kid in your life, not your own child. Like your own child is the easiest person in the world to shop for. Yeah, it’s so easy. I shop for my kids. I already started it’s it’s like it’s more of like what not to buy them than what to buy them. Like it’s like you just, you know them. So when it comes to other people’s kids, these are my tips for giving gifts that are good for the parents. That won’t just be, like, immediately donated.. 

Emma: Or they end up with doubles of something and you didn’t realize. Sometimes Goldie already has that tiara and I didn’t realize she already had that one. 

Elsie: Yeah, well, when you only have one phase of your entire childhood, you do get a lot of repeat gifts. And that is true. Okay, so here’s my tips for kids. If you have a child to buy for and you either don’t know them super well or they’re really little so they don’t have like an established thing yet, right? I always recommend asking the parent, because a lot of times the parents will let you know exactly what to buy, and it’s just so easy. So if you’re buying for a little kid or kid you don’t know, well, here’s my ideas. The first one is heirloom toys. So I like toys that are like wood toys., special dolls, like the type of a beautiful doll you would buy on Etsy or from a small business. I think those are just always great. I always appreciate getting them plastic. Beautiful plastic toys are not ideal. The majority of kids will get way too many plastic toys, and you should probably just buy them the ones with the thing they’re into at that moment. Not just like a random plastic toy. 

Emma: I honestly also buy a lot of, as a parent, plastic toys from thrift stores because they’re easy to clean so you can clean them off. And if it’s like the flavor of the month, action figure or whatever, I don’t see any point in buying it brand new. And it’s like you buy from the thrift store, you take it back to the thrift store when they’re over it.

Elsie: Emma is such a good thrifter. And then the other thing that I think is so sweet for younger kids is personalized stuff. So if you have a chance to get them, there’s these personalized puzzles we can link with the name. Those are really great gifts. Personalized blankets, dolls that look like the child, things like that are really, really special gifts to receive. And I think kind of just like always a winner. 

Emma: Yeah. The only two things I would add is obviously books is always a great gift, again check with parents, because it’s really easy to buy doubles. So you can either say what books do they not have if you feel like the parent has a running list. Otherwise I would just send the parent what you’re planning to buy and they can tell you if they already have it. I know that makes it not as fun, but I just think it’s a good tip because when you end up with two of the same book, then it’s obviously going to go on the donation pile because probably don’t need both, unless  one gets ruined or something. And then the other thing, and this is kind of a bigger ticket item, but it also depends. You can get creative and it’s definitely a talk to the parents situation. But season passes to different places. Like here in Springfield, Missouri where we live, places like Silver Dollar City, which is a more affordable local amusement park. It’s not like Disneyland or Disney World, but it still cost money. So season tickets to a place like that or Kid Museum.

Elsie: It’s like, yeehaw Disneyland. 

Emma: It is. It’s really cute and they decorate for the seasons and it’s sweet so that there’s. Kids kind of museum in town called the Discovery Center. It’s a place you can take your kids, especially in the winter when you can’t go to the parks outside. That’s just like something to do on a Saturday so having season tickets there is really nice. So something like that can be a nice thing to give as a gift, where it’s kind of more an experience. It’s not going to be a plastic toy that just gets used one time and maybe discarded. It’s going to be something parents can take their kids to over and over, especially if it’s something that they can use in like harsher months when you can’t go to free parks outside. That’s a big part of our life in the summer, and it’s over for a while now. 

Elsie: Yeah, I agree, I think that that’s a very, very good tip. Yeah. Look around for local things you can do throughout the year. I think that’s so smart. 

Emma: Yeah. And some can be really expensive. Like if you were going to get like a Disney park if you lived near there. But there’s lots of local things, museums, kid friendly little things that can be actually really affordable. Yeah, lots of options. 

Elsie: Yeah. Actually, the moms in the car line or the pickup line were telling me that you can get Discovery Center passes for half off on Black Friday. So it’s also a good thing to sale shop for.

Emma: Yeah. That’s good. I didn’t even know that. 

Elsie: Wonders of wildlife too okay. So the next thing is gift ideas for siblings. I have very strong feelings about this because I have two little kids that are siblings now, and they’re old enough to give each other gifts. And here’s my advice. Let them pick no matter what they pick, no matter how random. Don’t pick it for them like you’re already picking so many gifts for your kids. Let them choose and let the magic happen and you can give them a little nudge or remind them when it’s time if you need to get something. Setting a budget’s good. Okay, so you know, how have you seen have you gotten one of these Amazon catalogs in the mail? All the parents are talking about how it’s like, it’s  the most annoying thing that can ever happen to you because it’s like a huge catalog of just toys. And the kids are going through circling every single toy in their interests, which is a lot. Anyway, it was cute. One of our daughters picked something from that for the other, and it was the sweetest. I guess I can say what it is. It’s like a little plush Ninja Turtle set of just like the four Ninja Turtles, and they’re all like the cute little kind of squatty, baby looking plushies. So it’s just like, so sweet. I think that for kids, I also think let them choose for other people. A couple of years ago, I let Goldie choose what we got for Aunt Emma and tell them what she picked for you. 

Emma: She got me in my size of frozen Elsa dress and I wore it many times. It was great. 

Elsie: Did it make you so happy because you knew that she really picked. 

Emma: I knew she really picked it. I knew you didn’t pick it. Yeah, and I got to wear it and have a tea party with her. And she was like, oh, you’re wearing the Elsa dress. It was just really sweet. 

Elsie: Yeah, I think, like, as many people as they want to pick things for, I remember as a little child picking like jewelry for my grandma and stuff and like maybe she didn’t wear it a lot, but it was in her jewelry when I looked at it, it was really sweet. So yeah, for sure, let the kids pick their gifts at all costs, no matter what it is. Yeah, not at all costs like literally. 

Emma: Yeah, at a budget, but let them pick something that’s maybe wacky, but it’s fine. It’s cute. And then I also thought we should talk a little bit about siblings. Like adult siblings, like us and then our brother. 

Elsie: Oh, is that what this is supposed to be? 

Emma: Yeah, I think it could be either. I think it’s both, but I’ve mentioned that a little bit.

Elsie: In our family, both sides, we do the thing where we don’t get sibling presents because we’re prioritizing like everyone just spend your money on the kids. Which I love, I do support that role and I honestly do cheat and buy Emma a presents anyway. I just can’t give it to her at Christmas. Whatever. It’s fine. 

Emma: I cheated some years too, but again, didn’t give it at Christmas. Yeah, I feel like you bring it at Thanksgiving. You’re like ekking it in there. It’s fine. I think it’s something to discuss. And we used to give gifts like we would buy our brother a gift. At some point, especially once everyone started having kids, we were like, hey, let’s have a discussion about this. What if we just stopped? We know we love each other, but we just don’t buy each other’s gifts, and we just focus on the kids and mom and dad and that’s it, you know? And I think it was a good move and it was an easy conversation. So and it relieved a lot of stress, not even monetarily. I think it does financially do that. But even just picking stuff and feeling like you want everything to be special, it’s kind of nice to be more focused on that at birthdays, I think. 

Elsie: Yeah, I think that if you don’t know what to get and you end up getting like a Starbucks gift card or something, it does feel like it’s just kind of like wasting money. It’s just making your total Christmas budget so much bigger. But it’s not really meaningful and not to I guess maybe, maybe it is for someone, but for me, not decent gift cards. When I get a gift card to a restaurant like Starbucks, it’s not meaningful like it’s not the same thing as if someone picked out something weird for me, right? So I think I’d rather just get fewer gifts that are like the weird, personalized special, you know what I mean?  Yeah, and I think a lot of the things we said about gifts for parents kind of apply. If you are going to do gifts or siblings, things that you consume. So like a really weird cheese, a great bottle of wine,  a candle, like these are things,, that and something that speaks to flavors they like since they like things that they like, something like, fine, you can do like a cookbook or an activity, a date night. Okay, so last year I went to tell the gift I got for you last year. Okay, I wrapped up for Emma all of my favorite novels from the year. 

Emma: This was awesome. It is the best regifting ever. 

Elsie: I didn’t buy anything, they were all just sitting on my shelves already. And then I wrote a little post-it note in the front of each one about like sort of what mood this book was for. And it was so fun. I’ll probably do it again. I think for siblings, the best possible strategy is to do something weirdly personal that shows that you like, really know them and love them and kind of doesn’t matter how much it cost.

Emma: Yeah. And I will say of the times we’ve cheated in the past and you cheated it this year already. One thing we did was advents. I think buying someone in advent and giving it to them like at Thanksgiving or just ahead so they can enjoy it the whole month. And a lot of times advents are like really small things or they are consumables. They’re like little pieces of candy or something that you consume and I think that’s a really fun gift. One year I gave our brother he has dogs like a dog advent, so it’s like opening a little dog treat every day. It’s just something like silly. And I really think a big part of it, it’s like fun to open an advent every day. So it’s like you just are giving them a gift where every day they feel thought of. And so I think if you’re going to cheat or you’re buying a gift, I think advents are kind of fun. But I will say it is like you give it to them ahead of time. It’s not like something you open on Christmas Day. 

Elsie: That’s true. The next one is gift ideas for friends. So I have already said this like five times already, but nothing that’s going to be clutter. Let’s give them useful things like wine, favorite candles, experiences and books, things like that. 

Emma: If you’re doing like a bigger group, like a book club or all your friends who you know, you get together periodically or whatever, I like to do a fancy DIY thing. Like if you do like a body scrub or a sugar scrub for your lips, or like soap, something where it’s like you’re kind of giving them all the same thing, and you maybe had a night where you made them all at once, but you can package them really cute, and you can do fun sense, like you could do a pumpkin thing or whatever you think your friends are going to like. And it’s just like, again, something that will get use so it’s not going to be something they have to keep forever. But I also think it is kind of personal to give some kind of fancy toiletry basically is what it is and it’s fun.

Elsie: I love that, that’s so cute. 

Emma: We have a ton of those on the blog too, so we’ll link some of those in the show notes. If you’re like, how do I make a sugar scrubs easy? It’s super easy and it’s really fun. You can put them in cute little jars and it’s just fun. It’s like a fun little gift. 

Elsie: Yes. One of my favorite gifts that people always give me is ornaments. People always give me like ornaments that match my themed trees. And I think if you like, know your friend well, there’s so many cute personality ornaments these days. Like you can find an ornament for anything, kind of anything. So I think that that’s a really fun gift. And it’s something that you’ll instantly use, adorable. Yeah. So gifts for co-workers, I find this very tough. So I’m going to defer it to Emma because she always has the greatest job  giving gifts. And a lot of times she has done it for both of us and I put my name on it. 

Emma: These are more like if you’re a boss giving gifts. Yes, because we used to have bigger staffs in both our companies. And so yeah, I would do like a little gift bag. But I think in those scenarios, if you have some budget, this is a really great opportunity to support handmade artist, but you have to plan ahead. So I will usually like the main gift and the gift basket for our workers, our employees was usually a handmade mug, and I would get them all from one artist and I would try to order them way ahead because sometimes handmade artist need a lot of heads up if you’re ordering like 20. Just also heads up if you’re ordering anything breakable, always order a few extra because handmade artists are incredible people, but things break in the mail and it’s not their fault. So like, just order more than you need and you can always keep them if they don’t break. But usually I have something break when it’s things like that. But I have lots of friends in our former employees who, like, still have the mugs that I’ve picked from over the years. And like people who worked for us for a long time, they have kind of a collection of mugs I’ve been picked out. Every year I know which handmade artists I supported. And it was really fun and they make such beautiful mugs. So I think that’s really fun. But also as far as like coworkers and I think this works for other people too. We’re about to talk about your hairdresser and other people like that in your life. I like to do homemade treats because I feel like coworkers, it is a scenario where it feels totally normal and safe to give someone like a big bag of puppy chow or homemade, like peppermint bark, or your best homemade fudge or whatever. Like if you have some kind of specialty. My sister in law always makes homemade candies like buckeyes, and they’re delicious. So like giving someone just a little handmade treat that they can eat, or they can share with their kids or share with their family. I think it’s a great gift and just festive, but it doesn’t really cost that much. And you can make a giant batch of puppy chow one night and try your best not to eat it all yourself before you give it away to your friends or your coworkers. I think that’s a great little gift, and you can include a note of some way they helped you that year at the office or whatever,  just it’s just thoughtful. But it’s also like they’re going to eat it and that’s it. No big deal. 

Elsie: Let’s put in the show notes, the puppy chow recipe, and then a couple other like she has like really good snowball cookies and put a couple of a lot of like homemade treats, Christmas cookies.

Emma: Peanut brittle. 

Elsie: Oh yeah. We have a really good peanut brittle. The Oreo truffles. 

Emma: Oh yeah. The Oreo truffles. Yeah. Oh, man. Make me Oreo Truffles, anyone? If you’re listening, make me Oreo Truffles. 

Elsie: I think that they’re like the ultimate Christmasy thing to make. 

Emma: They’re so fun. It’s so festive. And you can share it if you don’t want to eat them all. And it’s just fun. 

Elsie: Yeah. So gifts for acquaintances like the mailman, hairdresser, school teachers. So let’s talk about that. So I shared last year we have a big tipping tradition that we do at Christmas time where we just have a budget and we have cash and we give big tips to like all of the places that we go all year round, like we go to the same coffee shop in our neighborhood. And so we’ll definitely do one there and then your favorite restaurants and places like that. And then some of them can be random, sometimes you can just like wait for a moment that feels right or, there’s the people with the bells in front of the mall and all different opportunities to give during the holiday season. But I think that’s a really good tradition. If you have budget and you just want to do something, it’s a good example for children. It’s really special for our kids to learn about tipping and like, I love it, like when someone’s playing live music, happened more in Nashville, I’m not going to lie. But people don’t play live music in restaurants here as much. But it’s like, so fun to let your kids go give them a tip in their jar. Okay, so as far as teachers, hair people like all of this. So on Childhood Magic, I wrote a post about gifts for teachers, and I did like a huge poll and heard from it felt like a hundred different teachers and everyone said basically the same thing. So I want to just give the memo loud and clear. Let’s pass on the truth. Their list of what they don’t want is sadly kind of like everything that teachers often get. Things like mugs, food, gifts and teacher themed items. The thing that they want is cash. The thing that they want is pretty much just cash. And if you don’t want to do that, then the next best thing is gift card cards. And the best kind of gift cards are the open ended ones, not the hyper specific ones. So I honestly think cash is a great thing to give to people this time of year. You can still put it in a cute envelope. Yeah, you can still have your kid or preschooler help make a card. Yeah, you can write something special, write something in it, and then you put the cash. Yeah, I think that it’s the thing to do.So yeah, I think that’s a good thing to remember if you get hair, eyelashes, nails, whatever person in your life you see regularly. I do think it’s really nice if you can remember, like if you have a cleaning person in your house, if you can remember to give them a super big tip for the end of the year. I just think it’s such a loving, kind thing to do. 

Emma: I’ll also say, I think it totally works any time after Thanksgiving, because then they can use it during their holiday season, which can be a very expensive time of year.. So just, you know, in my opinion, I think it’s totally fine to give someone a holiday gift, a Christmas gift the day after Thanksgiving, if that’s like when you’re happy to see them, that’s fine. Just give it to them early, even if you’re going to see them a bunch more, because then they can use it during their season. Because it can be a stressful season for a lot of people. So yeah, and the only other thing I would say is I do think it’s kind of nice to keep extra gift cards like Starbucks, Amazon or whatever in your purse because inevitably, at least me, there’s someone I kind of forgot, but I’m like, oh yeah, I do see this person a lot. They do actually help me. They provide some service and I know them, but I kind of forgot to put them on the list. So just having something in your purse and you can just write on it and yeah, it’s not going to be the most special thing, like making a homemade card for the teacher was, but at least you can feel like you have a couple extra things in your purse for a moment like that. If, in case you forget something, I usually do gift cards for our mail characters also because I don’t usually get to meet them face to face, so I feel a little uncomfortable leaving cash out. So I usually do gift cards there just because then I can leave the gift cards out. And if something did happen, it’s like, well, well, it was a gift card, whatever, you know? They usually get it though. Yeah, I know, because sometimes they’ll tell me later and it’s really nice. 

Elsie:  Okay. So what to do if you forgot to give someone a gift. Okay. So I have a gift stash. 

Emma: So this is like a real person, not just like the stash of gift cards in your purse situation. 

Elsie: Oh, yeah. I think that the stash in your purse is good because then it’s always there if you’re  already out somewhere.

Emma: If it’s like your barista  that you see all the time and you just kind of forgot, don’t give them a Starbucks card. 

Elsie: What I’m thinking is that often at Christmas there will be someone present that you weren’t expecting. And you find out at the last minute usually. And there’s nothing worse than having one person at a Christmas when everyone’s opening gifts. One person who doesn’t get any gifts is so sad. So I think any kind of gift is so much better than nothing. So, okay, what I have is a little gift stash and I’ve had this for years. It’s 100% recommended. Everyone needs to do this.  So it’s just like in the top shelf in my basement. It’s like nothing special, nothing fancy. But what I keep there is extra stuff  I don’t need. Like if I get a cute PR package or like, whatever, a gift that I already have replicas of gifts for our kids, things like that. Then I would throw them up there. It’s like you can use it for regifting. And I don’t think regifting is bad as long as it’s like something that you would still want. I don’t think it’s bad at all. It’s like you get a coffee mug, but it’s just not the color for you. Regift it to someone else. There’s nothing wrong with it. And the other thing I keep up there is extra kids toys because kids birthday parties are so frequent right now because of our kids’ ages and they kind of all like the same things. So just buy extra like coloring books and like the kinds of things that you put in the gifts and just keep a bunch of them up there, and then you don’t have to go to the store just for those things, which is so much better than having to run to the store just to get a kid’s birthday party gift or whatever. So the stash and the other thing that I’ve given people as a last minute gift pretty often is wine, because I always have wine. Wine is a good gift. At my housewarming party of the night, we’ve got so many bottles of wine and I thought it was like, so fun later on to go through them and see what they were. And yeah, it’s a good gift. I mean, obviously as long as you don’t give it to a sober person. So things like that. I think are really sweet. Do you have any tricks? 

Emma: No I think your closet’s really amazing and smart, so no I don’t really have anything extra. 

Elsie: It’s really helpful because like, I don’t know, I think that when you run to the store last minute during the holidays, like for me there’s nothing worse than last minute shopping. I really don’t like it. And I know some people like enjoy it and it’s like a sport to them to save it till the last minute.  And I just like completely don’t relate with that. I want everything wrapped under our tree on November 1st. Actually, yesterday was November 1st so let’s say December 1st. Okay, I was getting a little ahead of myself. 

Emma: December 1st is more realistic. 

Elsie: More realistic. Yeah, yeah. 

Emma: Oh, tell them about the kids advents. 

Elsie: Okay. Last year I noticed when our kids were having Christmas morning and opening all of their little gifts that there were so many, like smaller toys that kind of got glazed overed and the bigger toys that like the big ones that are like the ones you run to, like the bicycle or like for one of our daughters, it’s like the princess dresses, like certain things. The thing that they were asking for that’s the thing on Christmas morning that they’re going to be obsessed with. And a lot of smaller things can easily get overshadowed. So I had got like a bunch of adorable little bath toys and things that fit their themes of what they like but they just could care less about all that stuff. And some of it ended up staying in a box in the pink house for a really long time, until we recently found it. So this year I decided for small toys to do a small toy advent, and it’s pretty much spending the same amount of money and the same effort but just distributing it differently. So I did it for Nova and Marigold and also Oscar, and maybe next year I’ll do it for our new niece, when she’s a little bit bigger. But yeah, like the teenagers I didn’t do it for maybe. Maybe I should think about adding the teenagers and teenage.

Emma: Teenagers can get expensive because they want skin care. 

Elsie: That’s true. Okay. Anyway, so we’re talking about little kids right now. So what the gifts are is small toys. And what I did was I bought for each kid like 3 or 4 sets of small toys. And that will last for the 24 days of December for an advent. So each one is individually wrapped and numbered. So every day they’ll get a little toy. So for our princess daughter, it’s all like, you know, the little people, princesses and Disney stuff. And for our superhero kid, it’s all  same thing, but superheroes. And for Oscar, it’s a combination of Paw Patrol and cars.. And it sounds like expensive and kind of excessive to give a toy every day. But in reality, it was probably around $100 or so for all three kids. Like, it really isn’t that much money, and I think the enjoyment that they’ll get out of it will be a lot bigger than giving them all these gifts at once.

Emma:  Yeah, I don’t say if you feel like it’s, you know, I don’t know, like sometimes you buy one of those sets and it can be like $30 and you feel like all I got was like these 5 to 8 little figures, you know? And it’s kind of silly. I actually think it’s a great idea to give like, one a day for a whole week, or you’re doing the whole advent because then it just gets spread out because you do spend like whatever amount of money, you know, $30 whatever on the set. And sometimes, you know, there’s going to be favorites from the set. And then there’s the other ones, like the villain or the whatever. And so it is kind of nice to give them their one a day because they get overshadowed immediately by Chase, because he’s on the case. Yeah. You got to give humdinger some day. So all the non Paw Patrol parents are like what are you talking about. Like don’t even worry about it. You don’t want to know.

Elsie:  Yeah. Don’t worry about it. Yeah okay. Well if you use any of these tips we would love to hear from you. And we’d love to hear your best tips. We’re definitely always learning. And I feel like gift giving is a skill, and it’s something that I want to get a little bit better at every year because I feel like doing it efficiently. It’s enjoyable and magical, and doing it in a crunch is kind of like it’s depressing how stressful it can get, like quickly. Give yourself the gift if you can, of spreading it out and enjoying it this season because it is so much. And yeah, we know it can be really overwhelming. Okay. So next up we are going to do a book report of all good people here by Ashley Flowers. I just finished this book so I feel very prepared this time. 

Emma: I read it a little bit ago now, maybe a month or two ago. I can’t remember more into the spooky season. And I love Ashley Flowers. If you don’t know, she’s one of the hosts of the Crime Junkie podcast and they have like a whole network of shows. So I think she has kind of other shows that she does as well. But if you like true crime, you probably have heard of Ashley Flowers. I know I have, I’m a crime junkie. So anyway, this book came out a couple years ago. 

Elsie: I would say that all good people here is a JonBenet Ramsey adjacent mystery. It seems very in line with that true crime story. 

Emma: Think it’s kind of her theory of what happened with JonBenet, in my opinion. I don’t know if that’s true, just like that’s my theory.

Elsie: Yeah. Like in the beginning part of the book, I was like, fixated on, like how closely it resembled it. And then later in the book, I feel like it takes its own twists and turns. 

Emma: Yeah, it has things. But she’s done her own fictional world. 

Elsie: Yeah. It’s solving a mystery in a small town with a similar thing like that. And then it ends up being more of a serial killer situation with lots of little girls. So yeah,it’s a messed up book. I thought it was fun. I thought it was a page turner. Yeah. And I enjoyed it. And it was, I don’t know, for me, it was like pretty good. Yeah, that’s my synopsis. 

Emma: Yeah I would agree too. I really liked all the characters. It felt like very real life. The main protagonist, who’s sort of solving the mystery, is like a kind of struggling journalist. She’s gotten laid off and she’s trying to get sort of reinstated sort of thing. Or I guess you could say she’s freelancing now, I guess, and she’s also living with an uncle who I can’t remember if he has dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Elsie: I think dementia, they keep saying diagnosis, so maybe they never explicitly. 

Emma: Maybe it’s unclear, but he’s clearly having episodes where he’s not in his right mind and she’s trying to help him at this stage of his life because his wife has passed away. And so he’s just on his own. And there’s moments where he gets lost and she feels like she needs to be home more. And all of that was like, really good and interesting. I thought, very real life. You really feel for her. You feel for her uncle. You want her to succeed. But she kind of has a lot of challenges with keeping a job and also keeping an eye on her uncle and taking care of life, you know? So yeah. And then, yeah, I felt like it was a very, like one theory on what could have happened to JonBenet, but a fictionalized version of it. And I thought that was fun. I think that’s a really famous case that most people know about. Even if you don’t like true crime, you’ve probably heard of it. So I thought it was kind of interesting to put it into a book. Like, I kind of like the idea of a true crime podcaster who’s just like, I’m going to take a bunch of famous things and like, do fictionalized versions of them. Like, that’s actually an interesting, like, writing exercise in my mind. Yeah, that sounds kind of fun. And I would be interested in reading pretty much any of those, so I thought this was very enjoyable. So I’ll say a couple of things that might be spoilers. So if you haven’t read the book, stop here for sure, because there’s some definite things that you don’t want to know unless you’re going to read it because  you don’t want to ruin it. I thought there was too many twists at the end, though, in my opinion, because it’s just like you kind of have the twist where it’s not the brother and you find out it’s the serial killer, and then you have one more twist where it’s actually the dad. And to me, it was one to many where I was like, I like that you kept us guessing till the end. That’s interesting because it’s more fun than if you know what’s going to happen. I suppose it just felt too coincidental that the serial killer was about to get her, but then her dad accidentally kills her, you know, because it was an accident. So I just felt like it was one too many twists for me. But I still loved the ride. 

Elsie: Mystery books are always one too many twists for me. Like, always.. I think it’s like, just not my favorite reading space. 

Emma: I think I don’t value surprise as much as other people. Like I don’t care if you get me, you know what I mean? Like, I’m like, I’m in it for the ride. 

Elsie: I think it’s like, hard for me to suspend belief that any of it could be real when I know it’s like a plotted novel. It just makes the mystery less mysterious to me. 

Emma: Yeah, because, you know, they know the ending and they’re putting in foreshadowing, but they’re also putting in red herrings to get you, you know. Yeah. That’s true. I did think it was really fun, though. I liked a lot of the scenes. Like she had interviewed the serial killer years before, just kind of randomly. I thought that was very interesting. I liked them kind of figuring out his whole deal and breaking into his storage unit. I thought that was interesting. Yeah, I also felt like it’s not set in Missouri, but it is kind of set in the Midwest, the general Midwest, and it felt very real to me. And honestly, I was picturing where our grandma used to live, Buffalo, Missouri. I was picturing that a lot of the time she was in the small town because I don’t know why. That’s just like kind of my quintessential small town.. So it felt very familiar and salt of the earth down home, whatever you want to say. Like, it felt very real to me. So I liked that too. But yeah, one too many twists. But I love the ride. 

Elsie: Yeah, I would give it four. I did give it four out of five stars on Goodreads. Yeah, I thought it was good. 

Emma: I like seeing your Goodreads stars. You’re pretty into it. 

Elsie: My Goodreads reviews are kind of bullsh*t. I think I have too much compassion and love for authors. And like, I just also just like, don’t like being mean. So if I ever give something a three, it actually means I hated it. And sometimes I don’t even like the fours. 

Emma: I don’t talk about books if I didn’t enjoy it because I’m like, why would I talk about it? What am I, a critic like? Not really.

Elsie: I think that that’s probably what I need to do in the future. But I don’t know, I like Goodreads.  It’s a good book. So I’m not saying it’s not good. If you’re very into mysteries, then you’ll enjoy love it.

Emma: I thought it was really enjoyable,  even though I didn’t love the ending. To me, that isn’t a big deal. Like, I feel like that’s one part of the whole thing to me, the ending. So I don’t know. I still think it’s a really fun ride. It was fun too, because my husband had read it before me. He’d actually bought this book for me for Christmas last year. This is how many books I have on my to be reading shelf is way too many and I just keep buying more and more. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I just like buying books. What can I say? So I have way too many. I’ll never get to them all, but in my mind that kind of gives me all this hope for the future. I’m like, look at all these books. Even if my life falls apart. Look how many books I have to read, I don’t know. It’s my safety net. Anyway, he bought this for me almost a whole year ago, and at some point this year he read it. So as you saw me reading it, like at night in bed, he’d be like, what part are you at? And we would just, like, talk. About a little bit because he knew what the ending was going to be, and he was kind of like seeing not if I was figuring it out necessarily, but just like what was my read on certain people or whatever. And it was fun to talk about. So I will say, reading it with someone else is kind of enjoyable. I could see it being a really fun book club read. As long as you don’t have one person who, like, insists on reading everything ahead of everyone because then they have to be quiet the rest of the time because it’s quite the ending. But yeah. 

Elsie: Yay! Okay, so we will go now to a joke or a fact with Nova. Hey Nova, what do you have for us this week? 

Nova: I have a joke and a fact. 

Elsie: A joke and a fact? Okay. 

Nova: What is the egg’s worst day? 

Elsie: What is the egg’s worst day? I don’t know. 

Nova: Fry -day!  

Elsie: Oh, that’s a good one. 

Nova: And here’s my fact. Did you know female lions usually are the ones who hunt for food? 

Elsie: Nice!  I did not know that. That’s pretty cool. Alright, have a good week, everyone! 

Nova: Bye!

Elsie: Thank you so much for listening. We’ll be back next week and we’re answering your questions all about the holidays. It’s a holiday Q and A.

Source link: https://abeautifulmess.com/episode-208-gift-giving-deep-dive/




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