My gift giving style: bits & pieces

When I was in grade seven, I went to another girl’s birthday party. It was at her house and I think she had a pool so that was probably the main event. We got through some kind of meal like hot dog and chips, cake, etc. then onto the gift opening. There were a lot of us there, more than any birthday party that other girls our age were throwing. I don’t remember the present I brought her or any of the others except for one. Her best friend (at the time – of course, bestie status is fluid in seventh grade) gave her a deep square box that rattled when she handled it. When she opened it up, it was filled with bits and pieces of grade school girl treasure: scented erasers, barrettes, bracelets, earrings, cute pens and pencils. It was a box full of baubles and trinkets the likes of which I’d only seen in one place before: my Christmas stockings. And my Christmas stockings were (and still are) my favourite of all the gifts I receive. I love how all the tiny little pieces fit together to make something bigger. I love that there are so many bits that combine to show thoughtfulness and care.

2017 Easter bucket-baskets

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve come to more thoroughly enjoy the act of giving and that includes creating these multi-layered gifts for the people I am close to. I jump at any excuse to contribute to someone’s Christmas stocking and I’ve started putting mini versions together and into baskets at Easter. A bunch of little things satisfy my giving and receiving joy perceptors more than single bigger (or smaller) things. (I could expand on how this theme presents itself in other areas of my life/preferences, but that’s ore for a therapist’s couch than a blog post…maybe. I like lots of things more than I like single things. So sue me.)

So, I’ve started to give bunches of small things by packing them into Christmas stockings and Easter baskets (or buckets, as you can see in the photos), but also gift bags, plant pots, fancy boxes, basically anything that can serve as a vessel for presents. I used a diaper bag at a girlfriend’s baby shower last year. It’s so much fun to give and (I find) it’s so much fun to get!

One challenge, however, is in being aware of your recipient’s preferences. For example, I have a number of people in my life (fiance, mother, brother’s girlfriend, friends) who are on the cleaner side of health conscious. Also, I am. It’s tempting to choose candy and junk food fillers to make up the gaps, but for them it just isn’t suitable and I don’t really like to promote that. (As you can see, I can never resist tucking at least a few treats in…)

Another big challenge can be managing the cost. Little items aren’t necessarily cheaper and especially not when you collect a bunch of them together. I always try to keep a target cost in mind through the process, but I’ve found that it’s been possible to keep the costs within budget.

Here are a few of the ideas I’ve been excited to come up with over the years. Self five. (Awwww. National High Five Day was April 20th. This is four days late.)

  • Fold-up reusable shopping bags
  • Lip balm
  • Hand cream
  • Travel sized toiletries
  • Aromatherapy rollers or blends
  • Single serving packs of almond butter, honey, etc.
  • Sport gels
  • Energy bars
  • Gum or mints
  • Travel packs of tissues
  • Packets of seeds (for gardeners and for beginners)
  • Gift cards (I like the seasonal ones from Starbucks)
  • Golf balls (only for the golfers in your life – I would hate you for this)

For bigger containers, here are a few of my go to additions:

  • Books – for reading or for writing or for colouring
  • Pens, pencils, markers or other writing utensils
  • Small piece of clothing – t-shirt, socks, scarf, gloves, hat
  • Photo frame (with sweet personal picture, of course)
  • Bottle of beer, wine, sparkling water

2016 Easter bucket-baskets

As I was writing this, I was reminded of a podcast I listened to yesterday afternoon. It was episode 113 of Happier with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft (my favourite) and one of the topics was Is Your Birthday Important to You? For me, the answer is yes. My birthday is important to me – I want to do something special that day, I do NOT want to work on that day and I want to spend it with people who are close to me. I do NOT, however, want to be wished a trillion happy birthdays from people who only remember my birthday because they saw a notification on Facebook. Nope. No, thanks. Without going too far into their discussions (listen here) I will say that they got to a point where they were talking about birthday parties and surprise birthday parties and they cautioned listeners to know their audience when planning the latter. Basically, a surprise birthday party is great for a person who likes surprise birthday parties, but there are plenty of people who would hate the idea of a surprise birthday party.

Why was I reminded of that this morning? Well, because I wondered if my gift giving concept above is something that I am so enthusiastic about because I love it. Am I not considering a broader audience of people who don’t want a bunch of useable things, but instead would prefer to be given a single, bigger gift.

What do you think? Do you like the gift bag idea that appeals to me? Or would receiving something like that drive you nuts? 

Somewhat on topic…

I’m super stoked to be a part of the Spring version of the Sweet Progress Box Swap put on by Dean at Mrs AOK and Ashley at Happy. Pretty. Sweet. It’s my first time participating in this swap, though it has been on my radar for a while. It has only just opened up to Canadians and, I believe I am the first. As you can guess, I love a good swap. (Laura and I have kept in touch ever since we were matched up on a foodie swap back in 2012!)

I’ve spent the morning putting the finishing touches on my swap package and having a great time doing so. I’ll take a trip out to the post office this afternoon and it will be on its way to my partner by the end of the day.

If you’d be interested in joining us, let me know! I’ll be sure to connect you with the group next time a swap comes up!

Valentines is my love language

I love Valentine’s Day. Always have. As a kid, as an adult, weekday, weekend, single, not single, all of the above. The funny part about saying that is that I’ve never been particular about DOING SOMETHING for Valentine’s Day, it’s more like I just love EMBRACING THE SPIRIT. Because we don’t generally do much. In fact, we never go out – too crowded, and I never ask for gifts – too expensive, (but, okay, I did ask for a spiralizer last year – I really wanted one and I just couldn’t resist when asked), and I don’t even yearn for any romantic gestures. I just like it – the pink, the red, the hearts of a cinnamon nature…

One of my favourite online escapes, A Fanciful Twist,
shared all of their downloadable (and free!) Valentines

Though I’d heard of it in the past, the first time I really came across Gary Chapman‘s “The Five Love Languages” was when it was discussed on the Happier Podcast last year. I was interested in the idea that each of us expresses love and feels loved in a different way.

The five love languages are:

  • Words of Affirmation
  • Quality Time
  • Receiving Gifts
  • Acts of Service
  • Physical Touch

I’ve recently read the book and it expanded on Chapman’s theory. While it’s focused mostly on romantic relationships, I can see how its applicable in relationships of every other kind.

An example: someone who speaks the love language of acts of service may not appreciate when their partner pays them a compliment in the same way someone who speaks words of affirmation. They might feel much more love out of having the house vacuumed by their partner than they would an extravagant gift.

Basically, we all measure love using different currencies.

For me, I’m a quality time love language kind of gal (and after reading the book, I believe in my pretty serious acts of service bent.) Kevin is also a quality time guy with words of affirmation coming in second. (I suspected both of those and confirmed them with him later.)

The discussion on the podcast was interesting. Both hosts identified words of affirmation as their love language and they proceeded to talk about how it’s probably the easiest love language to be partnered with. I remember exactly where I was exactly when I heard it because I reacted so strongly to their statements. Words of affirmation are anything but easy for me. I measure very low in that love language and, as such, I don’t practice it because I’ve never felt much appreciation for it. (They mentioned on a later podcast that they’d heard from several readers who said what I’d thought and recognized their error in judgment.)

So, what’s your love language, you wonder? First, give it some thought. Ponder the list of love languages and see which one you most closely identify with. Once you’ve given it some thought, take the quiz.

Let me know what your results show. I’ll just be over here celebrating with some quality time with my office today and then hopefully a little tonight with my beau as well.

Family Day 2017

This piece “Family Portrait” is unavailable, but find more from this artist,
Heather Mattoon in her Etsy store

Family Day. An extra day tagged onto a weekend with the intention of having families spend more quality time together and/or having a statutory holiday in February. Depending on whose account you read, Family Day sometimes comes across as an intention that found a date, but more often it seems a date that found an intention – that people felt it was too long between the New Year’s holiday and Easter .

Fun fact: Alberta was the first Canadian province to celebrate Family Day and they did so beginning in 1990. The next province to join then was Saskatchewan, but that wasn’t until 2007!

Also…

BC’s Family Day is celebrated one week earlier than Family Day in the six other Canadian provinces that celebrate it. Initially the Premier had aligned the holiday with the rest of the country, but the decision to designate the holiday for the second Monday in February was determined by a consultation on what BCers preferred. Ever since, the holiday has brought with it great debate and suggestions that it should be changed.

Fortunately, regardless of the origin, many communities have taken the opportunity to develop traditions for celebrating the holiday and, true to the name of the holiday, bringing families together with both each other and with other families. Nothing wrong with that!

We are going to take in a movie and then do some meal prep for the week. Nothing particularly celebratory, but we have a big week ahead so we’re taking advantage of the extra day off in the best way we can.

•••

I woke up around 6am this morning and when I walked into the living room, the clearest blue sky was impossible to ignore, helped along by the moonlight that flooded the room. It was gorgeous.

We’ve started to think of the things that we will miss about this apartment once we have moved and the view is certainly one of them. Also, the fact that we get morning sun in the new place. Here, we had sun from early afternoon straight through until sundown. Switching that around is going to take some getting used to and I’m worried about my garden, but I’m sure it’ll all be wonderful in different ways.

•••

This week we are officially starting our half-marathon training with the intention of preparing for June’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Seattle event. It’s exactly one week after our wedding so I suppose you could call it a honeymoon run (our runnymoon?) We found a sixteen-week program that seemed a perfect compromise between the 24-week (too much!) and 12-week (too little!) options that we’d seen before. I think we’re meeting some friends there and spending the weekend so it’ll be a good way to kick off our marriage…and preparation starts now! Well, tomorrow. Today is a rest day and, I’m not going to lie, I am killing it! Thankfully, things have warmed up here significantly so my treadmill running will be kep to a minimum. (Fingers crossed.)

•••

Last but certainly not least, today is my dear friend Rebecca’s birthday. Oh, the places and things we’ve done/see/talked about over the fifteen years we’ve known one another. We should really write a book. Or at least have a podcast.

Happy birthday, Coconip.
Love, Tip-Tip

Little wins

Sometimes the little wins are the things you need to focus on to get through the muck and the mire of a regular day. Like when you get presale tickets to see your favourite band on the same day when a friend announces that she is coming to town to spend her birthday weekend at your place.

Happy Wednesday!