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Are Gifts a Waste of Money?!

In this episode Nicole and Marina chat about how stressful holiday gift giving is, and why they think everyone should reassess their holiday shopping plans. No more mass gifting, instead think the gift of time, secret santas, and shopping small, local businesses.

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Nicole Booz: Welcome back to The GenTwenty Podcast I’m Nicole…

Marina Crouse: and I’m Marina Crouse! And today we are talking about holiday gift budgets and what we’re doing differently this year…

Nicole Booz: Yeah, so Marina Crouse: and I Both think that there is a lot of pressure around giving good gifts. The best gifts expensive gifts but something we were talking about the other day is that what you spend on someone is not correlated. At all to how much you care for them right.

Marina Crouse: Right? Which is a true fact. But I think at least for me I know for the longest time because gifting wasn’t my strong suit I felt oh I have to spend a lot and make it be this excellent, Amazing gift. So they. People. So The people I love know how much I love them. It wasn’t gifting. Yeah yeah, obviously a lot I’m rich with love. Not so much with dollars.

Nicole Booz: which is obviously a lot. Yeah that’s okay that’s ok so just to share a little bit of background for me growing up in my family Christmas was a huge deal. And we always got a lot of presents because we didn’t really get them the rest of the year we grew up without a lot of money for fun and Christmas in our house and it was often aided financially by family family friends who would pitch in for things from santa you know, various programs that would help with gifts and stuff and. At least for my memory very little was ever for. My parents is always from Santa Claus and I have always been a big gift Giver I love giving gifts I find a lot of joy in giving gifts and finding the perfect gift for someone but my problem with the perfect gifts is like. It usually ends up being something really expensive or something ah I guess not equal to what they would spend on me basically so just ends up feeling really unbalanced I’ve never resented someone. For them not giving me an equal gift. But I wonder if it’s awkward for the receiver to get more probably.

Marina Crouse: It is because I am I love giving gifts when I come up with the right one. So my gifting style often is. On a random Tuesday in September I’ll come across something and say oh this is perfect. But I don’t want to wait for a holiday to gift it. So I’ll just give it and then the holidays come around and I think shoot I’ve got nothing and there is I feel there’s a social currency in gifting.

Marina Crouse: That I haven’t quite figured out because I remember I’m just thinking back to my last office job my boss and all my co-workers gave me little gifts and I was just what. This was not something I prepared for I’m not paid enough to be able to afford this to gift you even small trinkets this isn’t I I this does not compute and so I think gifting is very stressful for a lot of reasons financially. Emotionally. And that’s why we are doing things to print I to give you background on my holiday Christmas experiences growing up. My parents were divorced but they lived nearby so I would have two christmases the same day and it was just a lot of chaos and our gifts were never extravagant but there were.

Always stockings and lots of little things to open and a whole drawn out affair and it was great when you’re a kid but now as an adult I just I just want to spend time with my family and friends. So I think that’s something I’m focusing on this year because, as you all might be aware the last two years were a little bit strange and in this economy trademark. This economy things are uncertain so for me I’m focusing on time.

Nicole Booz: Yeah, yeah, it’s actually interesting because I’ll see if I can find it again and link it in the show notes. But I read something recently. That said people who make over I might be getting this wrong, but it’s 50 or 75000 or maybe $100000 a year where you’re planning to cut back on their spending and but people who make less than that were not planning to cut back on their spending for the holidays and I thought that was really really interesting. Yeah, because last year I keep a spreadsheet of all my gifts for organizational purposes been doing it for years. but and I know I track what I bought for each person who I bought for so I know the totals it helps me with budgeting for the year up ahead that kind of thing and last year I spent over $3000 on gifs.

Marina Crouse: We love a spreadsheet.

Nicole Booz: And it was definitely even more than that because I didn’t include some of the gifts I bought my kids and I bought gifts for 47 people which is just shocking to me but it’s yeah, you certainly do. But it’s yeah.

Marina Crouse: And my first thought is do do I know 47 people I do I do but not that I would gift to 47 people that’s impressive. You do have a big family.

Nicole Booz: I mean it’s between our families on each side. There’s lots of kids lots of friends who now have kids and it’s just a lot It’s a lot of people. It’s a lot of money. and kind of even more than that for me last year I felt very overwhelmed with just the amount of things. That yeah I mean I had to wrap all those gifts I was a lot. and I don’t know it’s just it’s really overwhelming so this year something that I’m doing differently is that I’m giving some secondhand gifts. especially.

Marina Crouse: that’s a lot that was stuff.

Nicole Booz: To kids I don’t think we always need to go out and buy new gifs. and for my kids specifically I think online. There’s a lot a lot of Instagram parenting accounts a lot of you know Instagram Instagram parenting websites. Whatever. And it’s always oh I give my kids 5 things something to wear something to eat something to play with something to read something. Fun. Whatever and it’s okay that’s cool, but I for me I don’t want to give them things to wear for Christmas because I’m going to buy them new shoes when they need new shoes.

Nicole Booz: I want their Christmas to feel fun and exciting and so I think we’re just going to get them 3 or 4 toys that we know they’ll really love and play with and that’s it.
Marina Crouse: Yeah I’ve seen that same. It’s something to wear no something they want something they need something to wear something to read and that’s a really cool rhyme. But I think that still puts a lot of pressure on.

Marina Crouse: People who feel they don’t have the budget for that or maybe maybe they have a big family in a small space and they think I can’t bring that much more stuff and chaos into my house I I love Secondhand gifts I shot I tried to shop small in general for my own clothing and home Goods and life and Books. So I’ve also tried to start giving secondhand gifts and it’s an interesting thing when I started doing it I felt my first internal reaction was oh does this mean I don’t love the person enough to get them something new and just Marina Crouse:. No, you’re if you’re intending to give someone a gift. It’s because you care about them and you’re thoughtfully choosing your values too because not only am I trying to be mindful of my own budget I care really deeply about consumption and.

I hate the fact that we just over consume and send so much Ted landfills and are are not mindful about the things we have on our home and while I can only think about myself for that obviously I wouldn’t project that on other people I can at least Shop within my value frame I don’t know if that’s a phrase value frame. But I think that’s a big a big thing for this year is Boundaries setting boundaries with your budget sending boundaries with your values sending boundaries with maybe the number of people you’re shopping for a couple years ago let’s see I went to grad school in 2016 so maybe in 2016 or 2017 I don’t know doesn’t matter for the story. But I have four siblings. No I have three siblings. There’s 4 of us find clue myself I have 3 siblings and they all have they’re all married now and their their wives have all been in our lives for a long time and so at one point I was buying a gift for both parties of each couple and i. Was so overwhelmed because one I was in grad school and I worked part time. There was not a lot of income happening in my house in my household and it was just overwhelming because I would I was in California and I’d have to fly back with all of these gifts either in my suitcase or have them shipped to my dad’s house. It was just chaotic and my brothers are lovely people and their wives are amazing. So I want them to know how much I love them. But I realized those boys all hate shopping if I suggest that we do a secret santa we can still participate in a sibling exchange. But we all get to shop less and when I first pitched this to my biological brother. He was this is the best idea and I was okay, great and so we started doing that and that has taken so much pressure off of the holidays and gift expectations. So that when we get to share these presents.

It’s more about the time we’re spending together so wait the the first the first year of the pandemic I didn’t go home. No one did in my family so we just spent Christmas morning on Facetime and we were sharing what we had sent each other and it was really.

Sweet and special because we got to make that time together rather than I don’t know focus so much on oh what’d you get? who’d you get.

Nicole Booz: yeah, yeah, we so on my husband’s side of the family this year we’re doing a secret santa. I just I didn’t even have I just messaged everyone I was hey are you guys down with this great and then I send them a sign up link and everyone signed up already and it’s great and I’m really excited because I mean not that in my family only it would only be an additional 2 people to buy for but part of it for me is just there’s 4 grandkids on that side of the family now and last Christmas it was incredibly chaotic because my husband’s parents there are very kind and generous around the holidays and they tend to spoil the adult children more than the kid kids which is very very nice of them.

Last year I don’t even think I saw my in-laws open any of their gifts just because of the chaos and it kind of that took away a little bit of the experience for me. So and also we’re all kind of old now we’re pretty much almost 30

And yeah I’m not putting anything on my wish list that I can’t afford or wouldn’t buy myself so it’s weird I’m okay I’ll spend a hundred dollars on you and you spend a hundred dollars on me cool I mean it’s that’s nice, but it’s also I just buy this myself.

Marina Crouse: We’re all decrepit in our 30 s.

Nicole Booz: I think that if we do a secret santa every year and then have a theme to it. I think that would be fun next year I might be okay, no gifts over ten dollars be creative or a whole homemade gift this year second hand gift this year…

Marina Crouse: oh I see yeah or yeah a small business gift. Oh that’s such a good idea. Oh.

Nicole Booz: Ah, board game this year. I thought maybe I sell to pitch that to them I’m pretty sure they’ll be down but putting something you know something consumable a food on it that kind of thing would be really just really fun over the years and be more about the memories that we make together and the time we spend together.
Nicole Booz: Then the actual gift. You know what? I mean.

Marina Crouse: Yeah, oh yeah I love themed gifts I tend to do that last year I had my brother Peter hey Peter if you’re listening so he’s not listening. He’s he might not be listening ah his commute is short and he doesn’t listen to podcasts as much as he used to ah but last year I had him and.

Nicole Booz: He’s definitely listening.

Marina Crouse: He loves game nights and that’s something I wish we lived closer and we could do together so I gave him a themed gift where I got him a board a little board game of I think it’s called Mexican Mexican Dominoes mexican train dominoes. It’s so fun I played it at a neighbor’s house anyway matter, but it was a little game.
Marina Crouse: And popcorn and sausage and olives so he can make a little cheese board I should ask him if he ever did played it but I I love themes and anyway so I think that’s something but that’s something important we have to recognize as we grow older. Is that stuff is just stuff and while it’s great and fun. A lot of the times. It’s also okay to just want to spend time together. Ah because my so I still celebrate two Christmas one with my dad one with my mom.


And so even though I’m an adult because my brother and I do a secret santa with our so our step siblings our other brothers I finally was just hey when we celebrate Christmas at mom’s house. Let’s just not give each other gifts. Let’s just like. Watch a movie together or bake together or spend time and he was this is the man who hates shopping he was excellent idea. This is great and I just talked to him yesterday and I said hey so we’re still on for not getting each other gifts this year right? and he’s yup can’t wait. He’s okay, great.

And so we usually end up watching the same Christmas movie every year we watch the muppets Christmas Carol in my mom’s bed because that’s where the only vhs players because we obviously have it on Vhs and that’s one of my favorite Christmas memories. So I I think when you’re thinking about your gift budget this year

And if you’re especially if you’re feeling stressed by either the finance or the amount of people you have to find thoughtful gifts for remember that thoughtfulness doesn’t always come in stuff. It can be time spent. It can be making memories together. It can be traditions you start or Continue. So. Setting those boundaries for yourself in your time and your money and your expectations is really important and another thing I’ve started doing I have more local friends than I’ve ever had before and I’ve started having conversations with it’s a little bit awkward but it’s I.

I can’t buy for everyone and I have very generous friends so I started saying hey ah for example, 1 of my friends is going on a big trip to Europe and I know her budget is tight because she’s going on this big trip to Europe. So I said hey this year for Christmas. Let’s not get anything for each other. And she’s a great idea. Let’s spend time together. So I’m going to go up to Santa Barbara and spend the weekend I’ll visit my mom I’ll get to spend time with her and we won’t have that expectation because we normally would give each other gifts. So it’s you can gift in different ways is what I’m trying to share.

Nicole Booz: yeah, yeah, take the pressure off don’t be afraid to have the conversation and don’t overspend just because it’s the holidays or it’s a good deal you I know as a content creator I find this time of year very overwhelming because there’s a lot of push and pressure from brands to make sales and do ads and all this stuff and it’s I get it because I mean realistically no one’s making a living if no one’s buying anything whether it’s.

Ah thing or a service you know, I get it. But also I find it very overwhelming both personally and professionally and so I just want to take the pressure off all of us this year for not buying gifts and I think that if you’re honest with your friends and family. You’ll probably find that there’s a pretty positive response. Overall think of other traditions you can start. It doesn’t have to be gifts then it doesn’t have to be expensive gifts.

Marina Crouse: yeah, it doesn’t have to be gifts ah buying cookie dough at the grocery store probably less than $5 great 2 hour memory that you can make right there.

Nicole Booz: 100% all right? Well I think that’s a great place to end this unless you have anything else Marina?

Marina Crouse: just the you know shop small shop local… whatever whatever floats your boat. But if you’re shopping. Don’t forget we do own a gift thing business. but yeah, so take the pressure off yourself and be mindful of what matters most to you I think is where I want to end it all right? Well thanks so much for listening. We will see you next time and thanks so much. Bye.

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