Gift-giving is a weird thing. It comes with so many expectations. I LOVE to give gifts, as I'm sure we all do. But there are many things that factor into this simple act of kindness.
1) Money - "I would love to buy _____ for my mom, but it's just too darn expensive."
2) Relevance - "Will he/she like what I'm giving them? Or will they think it's useless and stuipd?"
3) Fairness - "Well, I didn't get something this nice for his/her spouse, so I need to find something cheaper."
4)...and my all-time favorite...Do they already have it? - "Does my dad already own ____?" No matter what the item is, the answer to that question is usually YES. He does own it. But this question also applies to other people.
The month of October is a big gift-giving month for me. I have 4 birthdays to support this month. Not to mention, Christmas is right around the corner. (Have you started shopping yet? Because I have!)
Anwyay, the whole point that I wanted to make is that buying gifts can be stressful even if we have the best of intentions.
My sister-in-law Emily is one of the easiest people to buy gifts for. For starters, I know her very well (and I'm married to her brother, so that gives me an advantage). If you are close to Emily at all, you probably know everything there is to know about her, as I do...and this makes it very easy when shopping for Emily. Actually, I never have to make a specific trip to the mall for Emily. Usually, I'm already out shopping at a store, and I'll see something very "Emily-ish" that catches my eye. She is always the first person I check off my Christmas shopping list every year because I pack away gifts for her all year. In fact, we already have 4 presents waiting for her in The Christmas Closet. She is always WAY ahead of everyone else. (Sorry, other relatives. I wish you were all this easy to shop for, but you just aren't...)
The Easy Gifters (like Emily) are a blessing and a curse at the same time. You see, I find so many things for Emily that I actually have to STOP myself from buying gifts for her. During Christmas season when we're out hunting for the Dad gifts (which are by far the most difficult to shop for), I'll spot yet another gift for Emily! It's very distracting and frustrating, and not very fair to the dads or to anyone else.
October 9 is Emily's birthday, and like I said before, we already have a pile of gifts packed away for her. I also had a few gift ideas tucked away in my brain. But for some reason, I thought to myself "Oh goodness...what if she HATES everything that we give her? And what if she dreads our presents every year?" Poor thing, we have never stopped to ask her what she actually WANTS. And so that's exactly what I did this year. I asked her what she wanted, and she kindly told me about a necklace that she found on Etsy.com.
**Sidenote** If you haven't been to Etsy.com then please do so IMMEDIATELY. Give yourself about 30-60 min to browse the website. The site offers handmade gifts from crafters and artists all over the country. This stuff is way better than anything you'd find at Target. Think of your favorite boutique on Main Street, and then multiply it by 1,000 and put it online. Voila! You have Etsy - a site full of brilliant, beautiful arts and crafts. The items are reasonably priced, and if they aren't, you can simply ask for a discount. The beauty about buying directly from the artist is that you can make custom requests and hopefully negotiate a price. And readers, this isn't the kind of crap you find at the flea market. These handmade items will blow your mind! I've found gorgeous dresses, jackets jewelry, pottery and pictures that are all one-of-a-kind. I also love the idea of supporting starving artists (mostly because I wish that I were one myself...) It's a comfort to me knowing that I'm paying someone directly rather than giving my money to a big corporate mess.
So, here is the necklace that I purchased from ChellasCollection.etsy.com. It's a chain with 2 map pendants. The one for Emily had a map of CMCH, New Jersey (where Emily was born) and one of Chicago (where she lives now).
Not only was the gift perfect, but my online transaction with the artist behind Chellas Collection was spectacular. We sent each other messages using Etsy's online messaging system, and Julie was so responsive and thoughtful. She personalized Emily's gift, handled the shipping and timed it with her birthday, and included a personalized note. She even sent me a follow up thank you note in the mail! For someone who shys away from online shopping, I truly enjoyed this experience, and I was glad to give Emily a gift that she really wanted.