Thriftfulness Turns 2!!!

14 Apr

Happy birthday again blog! Thriftfulness turns two today! By this age, my blog should have a longer attention span, begin learning new words rapidly, and start hiding behind the couch when it poops.

To celebrate, I’m going to eat macaroni and cheese and apply for jobs, but as a special birthday gift for YOU, dear reader, I’m posting a little book excerpt from the would-be-a-book-if-I-could-manage-to-not-get-rejected version of Thriftfulness. Not interested? Scroll down to the bottom of the post anyway for a list of what’s to come in year 3 of the blog. Will she have a thrifty wedding? Find new treasures in the Free Box? Finally make that damn diorama? Learn to jump rope?

Book Excerpt: Shifty Gifting

(Don’t miss it’s partner, Thrifty Giving from February 2010)

I’m no Miss Manners, but I do believe there’s some shady gift giving techniques that we’ve all been the victim of and/or perpetrated ourselves. Keep these tips in your brain the next time you’re tempted to bust out your Free Hug Coupons.

1. I’ve Got Ten Minutes and Fifteen Bucks, Go! AKA Don’t Last Minute Shop

Gifts bought or made in a panic are usually worse than no gift at all. You end up buying generic, half-priced Venus fly-trap plants or making lame-o wind chimes. Instead of rushing around at the last minute, keep people in mind all year round, every time you visit a shop. Sometimes you see something and make a mental note to come back for it around the holidays, but when will you honestly make it back there and will it still be for sale? If it isn’t a huge purchase, just pick it up and put it some place safe. You will find you’ve presently surprised yourself when the date rolls around and you’ve already got a gift for someone. Plus, it makes the sales people much happier when you don’t run in at five to close and interrupt their vacuuming by yelling, “I know what I want!” and aimlessly power-walking through the aisles.

2 and 3. I Know Just Where To Put It…AKA Don’t Give A Half-Made Gift and DEFINITELY Don’t Give an Ugly Gift

On top of some amount of skill, homemade gifts take time, which we tend to run out of. It’s understandable. But don’t just wrap the half-made gift up. Every scarf I’ve ever made has been chodey- too thick and too short -because I ran out of time. But should I wrap it up and give it to you as an IOU? Will it ever be finished as the note in the box implies? Nope. And neither will the half-made scrapbook, the to-be-completed eggshell garden or the box of scrap lumber you’ve labeled Pretty Much A Birdhouse. Giving someone a half-made gift almost secures the fact that you’re not really going to complete it. You’re not going to take the box back and go straight home to work on it because the pressure is off, you have no time limit, and you’ve got a million other things to do. If you really can’t get the gift done in time, get them something small to give at the event in question and surprise them later with the real gift. I would much rather get a post-holiday jolt by receiving a gift in the mail than sit around with half of a cold neck the rest of the winter (chodey scarf joke).

And speaking of sitting around the house (no yo momma joke intended), don’t give ugly gifts. You know when something you make didn’t turn out the way you thought it would. It hurts to pitch something you put that much time into, but it hurts more to know that poor Uncle Phil is digging through his storage to dredge up the awful paper-mache garden gnome you made every time you call to say you’re coming over. If you think it might go into hiding as soon as you pull out of the driveway, give a nice fruit basket instead.

4. This Whopper Jr. Will Just Be Your Christmas Gift AKA Banish the “Consider This” gift!

Okay, listen up. When you go out to lunch with your friend and they don’t have any cash on them and you offer to pay for their meal, DO NOT say, “just consider this your anniversary/Yom Kippur/graduation present”. This makes it sound like you don’t really care about their special day and you just want to check the obligatory gift off of your to-do list. Friends and family are understanding people, most of them with the faculty of memory. They remember the time they ran out of gas and you picked them up or the time you made dinner for them or the time you watched their dog while they were out of town. And they appreciate it. But you shouldn’t hold it over their heads like it’s something you wouldn’t have done if they didn’t have a birthday coming up. If you really can’t afford the Wendy’s Frosty AND the Fathers Day gift, maybe you should think about layin’ off the shakes.

If you are paying for something big, like a concert ticket, that happens to fall before a holiday or party, tell them that you would like to pay for the ticket in honor of their birthday. Then on the actual day, make them a card expressing how much fun you had with them at the concert. No one likes to be presentless on their big day, even those of us who asked for laundry quarters two months early.

5. No Coupons! AKA No Coupons!

Apart from the fact that this gift was invented so that kindergarten teachers across the world could lay out some construction paper and have an extra coffee break every Mothers Day; apart from the fact that it would be totally awkward to have to turn in a ‘coupon’ every time you wanted to have a  “Free Make Out Sesh” with your partner; you shouldn’t give coupons because they are empty, albeit colorful, promises. You can give Grandpa all the puffy-painted tickets he can handle promising you’re gonna help him pull weeds. But when spring rolls around, he’s not going to ask and, let’s face it, you’re not going to offer. You’re not five anymore, pardner, and unless the person you’re gifting is, it’s embarassing to hand someone a coupon when they want a favor done, especially if its’ something you should be doing anyway (i.e. making a coupon for cleaning up around the house when you live there = crappy gift).

Gifts of service are great and often appreciated more than any store-bought present, especially with family members. But instead of pulling out the glitter-glue, give them an actual date. For example, my oldest sister calls my grandmother before her birthday and asks her to pick a date that she wants a ride out to the casino and they go on that specified date. This is the classy, grown up way to give someone the gift of your time. Besides, your “romantic back massages”? Not that special.


Looking Forward:

(I don’t know this kid, though I wish I did. The picture is from Awkward Family Photos, the best website ever)

What’s in store for Thriftfulness? Keep checking back for these upcoming posts:


  • Mom Said In or Out!: The Nature Backpack
  • If Wishes & Buts: Pretty Dishes
  • No Nosebleeds: Non-Toxic Cleaning Products for Dirty Hippies
  • Gifts for Grads: Remembering Journals
Thriftfulness Wedding:
  • But Not Hooper Humperdink: The Invitations
  • Joyful Joyful Chelsea We Adore Thee: Attendant Gifts
  • The F&*%ing Wedding!!!!!
Thriftfulness Home:
  • Emotional Record Organizing For Lovers
  • The Cat Cave: Back Room Makeover
Thanks for reading, guys. It means a lot to me that I started out at 10 hits a month and have major-drupled ever since. You’re the best.

2 Responses to “Thriftfulness Turns 2!!!”

  1. Katie Ledergerber April 14, 2011 at 2:49 pm #

    Annie – I didn’t know you had a blog. I saw the link on Facebook and just read the most recent. I really like it and will continue to follow. Thanks for the thrifty tips….

  2. lizjoyntsandberg April 14, 2011 at 2:51 pm #

    Happy Birthday, Thriftfulness!

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