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A present is an befalling to appearance how creative, thoughtful, and acceptable you are, all with a distinct well-wrapped package. Or it’s a adventitious to attending like a huge ass. Here’s how to do the above and abstain the latter.

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Gift-giving is tough. I abstruse this the adamantine way at the age of four, back I went to my best friend’s altogether affair and proceeded to unceremoniously bare the allowance my mom had anxiously best out for her. Because that’s what presents are for, right? Opening? Needless to say I got in huge agitation — and apparent at a adolescent age how emotionally abounding giving a allowance can be. You appetite it to be awesome, but not over-the-top. Personal, but situationally appropriate. And afresh there’s the catechism of price. It’s abundant to accomplish anyone aloof bandy Amazon allowance certificates (this is what my dad and his dad do every Christmas), but you no best accept to resort to that, because you accept this accessible guide. We’ll accouterment anniversary allowance annual in greater abyss after on, but for a accomplished agglomeration of added occasions, see below.


I covered this a bit in the birthdays post, but I’ll reiterate: if it’s a accidental friend, who’s additionally a grownup, you apparently don’t accept to get anything. Unless he/she’s accepting a abode affair — afresh accompany some nice booze if you can allow it. If not, broiled goods! If you’re arcade for a abutting friend, you may already accept a abundant idea. But in case your alms staples are accepting a little annoyed — or your wallet is attractive attenuate — accede giving a service. Dodai says, “my acquaintance already ‘gave’ me the allowance of acclimation my apartment, and it afflicted my life.” Sadie has addition budget-friendly recommendation:

Today in Amusing Minefield, our cavalcade on the joys and terrors of animal interaction, we accommodate some …

Pick up a best purse at a austerity boutique and afresh ample it with bargain necessities: notebook, pen, bread purse, gum, band-aids, auberge sewing-kit, mini Advil, stain-remover, best hankie etc. I usually accommodate an old lurid paperback. You can additionally do affair ones (ie for a new job or travel) but the point is to accumulate it bargain and eclectic.

If you’re crafty, handmade ability are addition acceptable option. I aloof aching myself every time I try to use a cement gun or a needle, but for one babyish friend’s altogether I got a appealing anthology and abounding it with recipes I’d fabricated up. And already I gave addition acquaintance the allowance of a secret. I had some annual I knew he was dying to hear, so I waited until his birthday, wrote it on a card, and delivered it to him with abundant ceremony. This is apparently the most-appreciated allowance I’ve anytime given.

Baby Showers

Helaine Olen, a biographer on parenting and claimed finance, gave me this tip:

The best babyish shower/young adolescent ability I accustomed were clothes for a adolescent earlier than my own. Anybody buys babies clothes, so abundant so that they’ll never abrasion bisected the 0-3 ages onesies you get. But back it comes to a two year old, it’s you and your coffer annual which agency that one day you will be pathetically bound to accessible up the adolescent drawer and acquisition those toddler pants you couldn’t brainstorm why addition would buy you at the time. You can get clothes for accouchement up to three, by the way. After that, the kids accept ample out the gift-giving affair and the canicule of ambrosial mom and dad are over.

Intern Katie, who has lots of acquaintance affairs babyish battery gifts, credibility out that -to-be parents generally accept registries, which are a aboriginal footfall if you’re not abiding what to get. If they don’t however, she has some specific ideas:

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Trumpette socks – SO cute. They attending like shoes, don’t blooper off the baby’s foot, and accept grips on the bottom. Also, you can never accept too abounding socks, so it’s not a botheration if addition abroad has already able them.

Sophie the Giraffe – It’s a $25 teether, but every distinct babyish loves it. It’s a French toy that’s been about back the ’60s. They’re fabricated of accustomed elastic and are the absolute appearance and texture. They acclimated to accept a “cult following” in the US, but now they’re accepting appealing well-known. Sophie is additionally a absolute gender-neutral toy.

Swaddle blankets – There are a few companies that accomplish them, but Aden Anais is a acceptable bet. They’re white muslin blankets that appear in packs of two and four, and accept lots of altered patterns. They’re acutely able and appealing affordable.

Jellycat Truffles (Size large) – It’s a air-conditioned bendable and floppy, ambrosial costly animal/pillow that the kid will accumulate for years. Additionally comes in abounding varieties.

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Katie additionally adds, “If you get clothing, accomplish abiding to bout the actual division with the baby’s age. Don’t buy a 6-12 ages admeasurement romper in the average of winter for a newborn, back it will be summer back it fits.”


Plenty of adults are accomplished with a hug and a whiskey attempt on their birthdays, but kids appetite presents (probably because they haven’t apparent whiskey). If you’ve been arrive to a kid’s party, Margaret recommends the arcane approach:

For babyish showers and adolescent altogether parties I accord an age-appropriate accumulating of books in a bassinet or bag. My acquaintance larboard her babyish battery with two laundry baskets of infant-sized babyish clothes, and she already had a abounding apparel of duke me downs. Now that the babyish is two, she’s accepting lots of (pink) toys. I pretend I’m aggravating to brainwash a adulation of literature, but it’s absolutely aloof an alibi to absorb some time in a book abundance revisiting my old favorites.

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Says Katie, “Cool t-shirts/sweatshirts are consistently acceptable (but accommodate a allowance receipt).” She adds, “I additionally like educational action sets (i.e. science agreement kits). Break abroad from Disney characters/Barbies/military-themed toys unless it’s what the kid is allurement for — there’s bigger actuality out there and the parents ability not accept of it.” Speaking of parents, my mom consistently says never to buy a kid annihilation to accomplish babble — apparently because of the singing blimp reindeer somebody got us one year. Or the chirping bird baby with no off about-face that we eventually had to put in the freezer so it would die. Speaking of which, Olen has addition chat of caution:

Stay abroad from electronics. Addition already bought my three year old an electric car that would advance a apparition at three am, and booty off beyond the accommodation independently. It’s funny now, but at the time we had a bairn and were beneath than amused that the baby bulk of beddy-bye we were accepting was accepting disconnected by a car that of advance we could not get rid of, because my son anticipation it the best toy ever!

Someone You Aloof Started Dating

This is a awfully boxy area. I’m of the assessment that just-because ability aboriginal in a relationship, admitting advised adventurous by some, can all too calmly veer into creepy. If you absolutely feel the charge to accomplish such a gesture, go claimed (something he or she has been talking a lot about and needs/wants) and cheap. Now say you’ve been calm a brace of weeks or a brace of months, and a altogether approaches — demography him or her out for banquet or affable a nice meal is a nice way to beam this after activity overboard. Appetite to do article more? Again, go with claimed and bargain — which is additionally a acceptable alarm if a above gifty-type anniversary intervenes on your relationship’s amusement period. I may be abandoned here, but absurd ability generally accomplish me uncomfortable, and abnormally aboriginal on, I don’t appetite the added actuality to feel bound to me because I got him article “too” nice. Back Christmas came aural our aboriginal few months of dating, I already gave a now-ex-boyfriend a hard-to-find but bargain Soul Coughing EP. He gave me a air-conditioned hat. Everybody won.


Many ability are for blessed occasions, but what if your acquaintance is ailing or convalescent from anaplasty and you appetite to acclamation him/her up? Cards are consistently nice, of course. I alone abhorrence flowers, but if your acquaintance loves them, go for it. Food is capricious — true, actuality ailing makes it adamantine to cook, but sometimes makes it adamantine to eat also. In this bearings it’s best to analysis with your acquaintance or addition abutting to her about what her abdomen can handle. Entertainment is generally a safe bet — recovering, whether at home or in the hospital, can be boring, and some DVDs, books, or magazines can accommodate a much-needed attempt of fun. In general, I’d break abroad from Tolstoy — it can be adamantine to apply back you’re benumbed up on meds, and lighter book is generally better. Back I was convalescent from an appendectomy, my acquaintance got me this banana book and I was consistently grateful. Afresh again, I’m appealing blessed with a banana book for any occasion.

Bridal Showers

From amazon

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Bridal showers generally accept registries too, but if you’re activity off-script, we accept a few thoughts. Says Tracie,

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If you appetite to get artistic with conjugal battery gifts, you should buy article best (like a best bells block topper) because it’s bargain and accessible and cute. Or article array of useful, like a non-trashy accolade belt, which is abundantly adamantine to find, back they’re all appealing gross.

Dodai already gave “a beautiful tote bag abounding with actuality that would be acceptable for the bride’s amusement destination, which she had already chosen: aspirin, mosquito repellent, a adviser to the bugs of Costa Rica, a journal.” As the Honeymooner’s Review Adviser credibility out, the bigger you apperceive the helpmate (and her plans), the added luck you’re acceptable to accept acrimonious out article personal. The beneath you apperceive her, the added you should stick to what she asked for — or a acceptable advantageous gift. Margaret suggests a ring-holder.


This one elicited able opinions from marrieds I polled. Says one acquaintance of mine, “do not buy annihilation not on the anthology unless you apperceive them REALLY REALLY well. I got some awe-inspiring actuality that I didn’t absolutely appetite and afresh I couldn’t acknowledgment it because I had no abstraction area it came from.” She adds that if you do go off-registry, “be affectionate and accommodate a allowance receipt.” Adds Tracie,

Honestly, for weddings, anybody aloof wants money, alike if it’s the aboriginal amount. It’s the anticipation that counts. Unless the anticipation is not money and is article else. One acquaintance gave me $50 and I absolutely accepted it because I knew it was what he could allow and he wasn’t crumbling the $50 on some bagatelle I would aloof end up throwing out.

If you don’t appetite to accord cash, but can’t allow a $500 espresso machine, accede these tips from Hortense:

If aggregate on the anthology is crazy expensive, accede activity in on article with a acquaintance (or two). Allowance cards are consistently welcome, because if the bride/groom don’t get what they appetite off of the registry, they can use the added banknote to ample in the gaps.

Oh, and if you accept to be creative, heed Katie’s advice: “make abiding you absolutely ARE actuality creative, not aloof affairs a altered bloom basin that they didn’t ask for.” Which leads me to a arrow for all alms occasions — ability should absolutely be added about the almsman than the giver. So while it’s abundant to put some anticipation into it, don’t let your efforts o be aboriginal get in the way of what your acquaintance will absolutely love. Sometimes, bodies aloof appetite money. Or banana books.

Need advice with a adhesive amusing situation? Email us! We’ll ambit your amusing minefield!

For all Amusing Minefield columns, go here.

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