Simplify Sunday- Gift Giving

shibasI think it’s safe to say most of us love giving gifts, no? Sure, it can induce stress budgeting for and finding the perfect thing, but there’s nothing like seeing a loved one opening up the perfect gift (my perfect gifts are pictured to your left!).

However, a lot of us are trying to minimize our consumption and general level of stuff in our lives. If someone gives me something I don’t need, I will donate it or reuse it in some way (I’m not afraid of the occasional, careful re-gift). Since I do this, I can’t help but worry that I am giving others gifts that they won’t use. I don’t want to give someone something that is actually a chore waiting to happen- something they need to get rid of or that will clutter up their home.

In this post, I mentioned that I find magazines to be a great gift. The recipient gets to enjoy them month after month, and they don’t take up a lot of space. They are an indulgence that not everyone will buy for themselves. However, they are still stuff. In a comment on another post of mine, Mag suggested both a way to personalize the gift of magazines, and a really great website where you can donate toward a birthday celebration for a homeless child. What a perfect birthday gift! I would love to receive that.

Mag says:

That site is a game changer. Another one that I love is https://www.birthdaydreams.org. Many of us are wrapped up in consumerism and believe the more expensive the gift or the number of gifts means we are more loved. It simply is not true.

The gift I love to give to my friends and loved ones is a magazine subscription. I always send the first copy filled with tabs and post-its about articles and recipes. It is my hope that this simple but monthly gift will remind them of me, while providing them a stopping point each month in their busy lives to take a moment for themselves. By the way, happy birthday.

One time, my friend MK gave me the gift of supporting a polar bear with World Wildlife Fund. I received information about the donation and polar bears, along with a stuffed polar bear. That was so cool, I adore bears and loved to know they were being supported. Gift cards are another popular choice, but of course that’s still contributing to general “stuff”. Even better might be a restaurant gift card and the offer to babysit while your friend has a much needed night out with their spouse.

You know what your grandma wants? I’ll give you a hint, it’s not another plant. It’s to see you. The perfect gift for her is to take her out for coffee or lunch and tell her about your life. Get her to tell you a story she’s never told you before. My sister took me for a spa day, and it was fantastic. My mom sent me a sweet message about how she thinks I’m amazing.

You can easily give a gift that has meaning and creates a memory- just think outside that Hallmark box.

One more thing- Mag also left a really cool site for registries (So Kind Registry). This site lets you register for intangible things as well as tangible gifts. Having a baby? You can specify what kind of meals you would love to have people bring by for you and when, or when you could really use a babysitter for your toddler. Getting married? You can register at So Kind Registry and tell people that you don’t need plates, but you totally need someone to officiate your wedding or set up chairs between the ceremony and reception.

On a side note- friends, I am so psyched!!! A reader emailed me and she is using my 2015 Exercise Log. She showed me what she has done, and it’s incredible. She did almost 40 miles and 17 days of exercise. I’m so happy that someone is using it 🙂 *insert absurdly ridiculous dance of joy here (followed by tripping and falling on the floor)*

Does anyone have any real cool gift giving ideas to share? Please let us know.

Jillian

Am I the Only One Addicted to Magazines?

Magazine AddictionOnce upon a time, there was a preteen girl that wasn’t allowed to read magazines. They were a waste of money. Even if they were free, they were usually not appropriate for a preteen girl. A few years later that girl grew up and had her own money.

For a while, the magazines still seemed like a waste of money. $4.95?! You have to be kidding. That doesn’t even make sense! It takes an hour to read the thing and then I pass it on to a friend! Absurd.

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Eventually I figured out that subscriptions are much less expensive. I started with just one subscription. I loved reading Cosmopolitan every month (by the way, this was in my 20s. I now completely see why my mom didn’t want me reading this stuff as a kid. Some of it is shocking!). Reading magazines feels decadent to me. This may be because they were such a novelty growing up, but I think part of it is how much I value the written word. I read every article, cover to cover. I dream over the fashion, pretty make-up, sculpted bodies, and general gorgeousness. I dream of living in a big city and writing for a magazine. I picture glamour, but I’m sure it’s really all the Devil Wears Prada style grunt work.

Here’s where it got me in trouble. With sites like Groupon, I can get a subscription for a year for $5. Somehow magazines are just a trigger point for me. Every time I see a deal on one, I want to buy it. One time I figured out I had 13 magazine subscriptions! This year I meant to cut down to three, but somehow I still have everything pictured above coming to my house. I can’t completely figure out why I love them so much, but I do. I do know that part of it is holding them in my hands. I had a subscription on my iPad once and never once read it. I worry that the physical written word is going away. Newspapers and magazines are disappearing. Even textbooks are going digital. That makes it all the more precious to me.

My current breakdown:

  1. Women’s Running– best running magazine ever. For women by women, so empowering and inspirational. I decided to only renew one of my running magazines, and it was this one.
  2. Runner’s World– great articles and advice. I wanted both running magazines when I was training for a marathon (that I never ran- another post for another time). Side note, I have tried Running Times and found it so dry and more for coaches. Does anyone else feel the same way?
  3. O– I think Oprah is the best for general interest. She’s so relatable, and has great content on budgeting, fashion, beauty, current events, etc. It’s always something new. This has been a keeper for me for many years.
  4. Marie Claire– I didn’t renew this one, but then a friend gifted me with a subscription. I actually had missed it, so I am glad she’s an enabler! I like their fashion spreads and columns.
  5. Vegetarian Times– this was a killer deal. I love to read their recipes, and it makes me happy that they are catering to vegetarians. However, I’ve only actually made one recipe, so I probably shouldn’t renew?
  6. House Beautiful– this was another $5 subscription. We just moved and I thought it would be really fun to look through these, but I have two and actually haven’t looked at one yet.
  7. Lucky– I was planning on Lucky being my only fashion magazine this year. I’ve loved it in the past because they actually feature affordable pieces, but I’m finding this isn’t as true as it used to be (I just subscribed after not reading for a few years). Is this my imagination? I still like it, but I think I should only have one fashion subscription. Can I have two?

I am terrible at minimalism when it comes to magazines. I don’t keep them when I’m done with them. I do my best to give them to someone else to read, or recycle them. Still, it’s definitely consumption. Can anyone help me narrow it down? What is a reasonable amount? What are your favorites?

Jillian