Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Coffee Chats: Making a list and checking it twice

Hey folks! It us again, here with another edition of coffee chats! Today we're chatting about our gift giving and holiday shopping this year. Enjoy the read, and we hope you join our chat in the comments section!

Holly: So. Christmas shopping.

Nicole: Yes! Are you in the mood for Christmas yet?

Holly: Yes and no. I really am looking forward to the decorating and all that good stuff. But I just can't get in the whole Christmas spirit yet since it's still technically fall. I have been listening to Christmas music though. You?

Nicole: Welll, I'm getting there. Hearing Christmas music playing in Wal Mart last night helped! But Florida doesn't exactly lend itself to a Christmasy feel, if ya know what I mean. Probably when I get to Nova Scotia next week, I'll be ready for Christmas!

Holly: I'm sure. The weather will certainly be a little colder!

Nicole: Um, yes. We aren't talking about that.

Holly: Ok then. :)

Nicole: How much Christmas shopping do you have done?

Holly: I have about 60% of it done. Yay for the internet and catching good deals. I have the other 40% planned out; I just haven't bought it yet.

Nicole: Good for you!

Holly: This is the first year I've really used the internet for a lot of shopping, and it's been a great experience so far.

Nicole: That is good! Do you just keep your eye out for deals, or did you look for specific things?

Holly: A little of both. I stumbled on a website the other day looking at one deal, and ended up buying a ton of gifts off that site because of the great deals they had. {site intentionally left out to protect my gift-giving secrets, but it will be in the notes at the end of the chat.} Some other things I've just been browsing for and found the best deal by looking around.

Nicole: Tricky little thing, aren't you?

Holly: Oh yes!

Nicole: I've used the internet some in the past, but normally for convenience or because I want something I can't get in a local store. That happens a lot in Canada.

Holly: I'm sure. Have you gotten much shopping done yet this year?

Nicole: Come to think of it, no. I am waiting until I get back to Nova Scotia so I don't have to pack a bunch of gifts for the trip up. But I have just about everything planned out. I'll be in Maine for a day next week and I plan on making a big stop at a local place to get cheap fabric. And then I will get to work as soon as I get to Nova Scotia!

Holly: You're going to be busy!

Nicole: Yes. I have bought a couple of things and either had them sent ahead or I will just take them with me...just not much.

Holly: So do you like to buy gifts for people off of wish lists, or do you like to try to guess what friends and family would like based on hints you can pick up?

Nicole: I mostly try to guess. I like to try to get things that aren't NEEDS, but things I think the recipient will like. Something different they don't normally have.

Holly: Yeah, getting all normal, boring stuff for Christmas isn't too fun!

Nicole: Yes, exactly! I only need so many socks, ya know?

Holly: Right! I like to guess, but I also love wish lists since I hate to get someone something that they don't like or can't use.

Nicole: People ask what I want for Christmas, and I never really know. I figure, probably most other people don't either, so why not get them something I think they will like? I don't have a ton of gifts to buy either, so that helps.

Holly: Yeah, I hate having to come up with ideas on the spot. That's why I started keeping a wish list year-round on That way when people ask I can tell them {my mom is huge on Christmas lists} or I can refer to that when figuring out what to spend Christmas and birthday money on!

Nicole: Oh, smart! My trouble is, I think of things I need, but never write it down. My bad. That sounds like a good method!

Holly: It's great! Especially since you can add a button to your internet toolbar that will allow you to save an item from any site you're on. I love it. Since you can use it to make multiple lists, I also have a "to give" list on there where I save gift ideas for friends and family.

Nicole: Ok, I'm totally going to check it out.

Holly: So...the ultimate question: how to do feel about "re-gifting" something that you got but won't use??

Nicole: Oh, thats a tricky one. I think it depends on the occasion. For instance, I'm not just going to look around the room and try to find something to give to xyz person. That is tacky with a capital T. But if I truly got something I won't use and it has no sentimental attachment and it is still in the package, and the person that I'm giving it to will use it and they won't ever know I re-gifted, then I would. Phew, that was a lot of conditions, but I never want it to be tacky. I try to put a lot of thought into my gift-giving.

Holly: Right! Something would have to be in super-good condition for me to "gift" it, plus I would be mortified if someone who gave me a gift ever knew I re-gifted it. But at the same time, I'd rather give the unused gift to a friend that needed it, rather than just give it to Goodwill or something. For instance, I have a ton of lotions and body sprays I can't use due to my skin allergy. I only use certain scents, so when I get a ton of Bath and Body Works things, they usually go right into my "gifts to give if I don't have time to shop or can't find anything else" box.

Nicole: Smart. One Christmas I got a bunch of bottles of bubble bath. Which is fine, if you are a person that takes baths. But I never, ever do. So why not hold on to a bottle, and use it in a gift basket or something? Technically re-gifting, but no one will ever know. (And now I can't ever do that, but oh well.)

Holly: So, do you usually make your gifts or buy them, or both?

Nicole: Both. Last year I really did a lot of homemade, and loved it, so I'm planning on doing that again this year. There are so, so, so many great ideas out there for DIY and crafts, the possibilities are literally endless!

Holly: Yes! Especially thanks to Pinterest!

Nicole: I have a whole board dedicated to gift ideas. So if you are getting a gift from me this Christmas, don't go look at it.

Holly: Haha! I have one called Crafts and DIY, but who knows if I'll actually make something from it this year. :) I am planning on making some gifts, and I'm really excited about those!

Nicole: It is a lot of fun, it feels more "genuine" than something store-bought. Maybe the recipient doesn't feel that way, but as the giver I sure do!

Holly: Yes, a gift of time and love, for sure.

Nicole: If only fabric was cheaper!

Holly: I know. I buy most of mine at Hobby Lobby and use their amazing 40% off coupons.

Nicole: Nice! What are some of the best gifts you've ever recieved over the years?

Holly: Wow, that's a tough one! My parents gave me this laptop six (!!!) years ago, and that was a definite favorite. Another one is a blanket my mom made for me. I love to curl up in that with a cup of hot chocolate or coffee!

It's funny, because I really can't remember a lot of gifts that I've gotten over the years. {And there have been a ton! Only having one sibling and few cousins comes with perks!} That's why I would rather get "experiences" like tickets to a show or a years pass to a local garden/gallery/etc than actual gifts.

Nicole: I agree! I was sitting here trying to remember some of my Christmas gifts, and I'm having a hard time coming up with them. They blend in with birthdays.

Holly: Yes, that too. Could you think of any favorites?

Nicole: Well, probably my favorite gift wasn't at Christmas, but at graduation, when I got my violin. That was huge. As far as Christmas goes, I have  always enjoyed getting books. Last year I got the *best* pair of boots. I have 3 cousins that I exchange gifts with every year, and I almost always get flannel lounge pants or a fleece blanket. Those get the most use of anything I've ever gotten!

Holly: Oh yes, PJ pants are great! I got an Ohio State pair from my Grandma years ago, and they just wore out. I need to find a new pair, but the living in NC part is making that problematic for me.

Nicole: Slightly.

Holly: So what's on your Christmas list this year?

Nicole: Does it make me sound like a sinner if I say money is at the top of my list? 'Cause it is. I'm using my Christmas money to take a trip to North Carolina in February.

Holly: Holly is cheering. :)

Nicole: Other than that, books (always), I'd really like a set of hot rollers, and a camera.

Holly: Books always make it on my Christmas list too.

Nicole: I've always like gift cards, but if they are from the US they don't work in Canada, so that is a little bit of a problem. They are great, though.

Holly: You need to just move back to the US!

Nicole: Clearly! What are you hoping to get this year?

Holly: I feel like I've gotten so much already with a new house and new puppy. I have some DVDs on my list since we're trying to replace our VHS tape collection and almost all my musicals {Fiddler on the Roof, Sound of Music, The Music Man, etc.} are on VHS. Of course, a couple books and some home decor stuff are on there too.

Nicole: Here's a question: what do you do when you get knick-knacks?

Holly: Eek, tough one! If they go with my decor, then I add them to my decor items closet and rotate them in and out with the other things. If they don't....I hang onto them for a year or so out of guilt and then re-gift to someone who doesn't know nor ever will know the person who gave them to me or I just give them to Goodwill. {disclaimer: if I give them to someone else, then I make sure before-hand that it's something they would love}

Nicole: Good plan.

Holly: Do you do something similar or are you safe from knick-knack gifts since you don't have a house yet?

Nicole: Never safe from them, I fear! I used to hold on to e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g when I was growing up, but in recent years I've become a tosser. I hold on to it, maybe even display it, for a bit, but if you were to visit Goodwill or Frenchy's, you'd find a zillion knick-knacks there that used to belong to me.

Holly: Good for you!

Nicole: Yes, I hate keeping those things dusted.

Holly: Well, to end things off here...what are your favorite places to shop for gifts or to get inspiration for homemade gifts?

Nicole: Here are some of the places I've been finding myself this Christmas: Pinterest, of course, for DIY inspiration and ideas. (Here is my Christmas board and here is my sewing board, for starters.) I purchased something from the Heavenly Homemakers Shop that I'm super excited about! Etsy is a great place to find a "little something" for someone.

Holly: Yes! I love Etsy!

Nicole: For books or media, I usually check around Amazon and see if I can get things cheaper through them. I am also planning on using my Swagbucks earnings in the form of Amazon gift cards for at least one of my gifts! Here is a sampling of the homemade gifts I hope to have time to/ plan on making:

Source: via Nicole on Pinterest                                                                                                                 Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

                                                                                                                                             Source: via Nicole on Pinterest

How about you?

Holly: Amazon is one of my favorite places to get gifts. Here's a hint for y'all: sign up for a free trial of Amazon Prime this month. It'll give you free 2-day shipping on all orders. Plus, you'll get perks like free streaming for some movies and tv shows. We're enjoying black and white movies and reruns of Numb3rs this month. A few other places are the aforementioned Etsy, Dayspring, Target, and

Nicole: Sounds great! I can't wait to see what I get. ;)

Holly: Haha! Keeping that one a secret for a bit!

Well folks, while I wait here with bated breath, we'd love to hear how you do your Christmas shopping! Do you shop online? What is your favorite store? And the most pressing question: Do you re-gift? Leave us a comment and join our chat! 

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