Today’s discuss is pretty easy: What’s the best present anyone has ever given you? And I’m not talking about love, or an engagement ring, or a child, or a good result on your cancer screening. I’m talking about a tangible gift that you can buy or a gift that you can make. Because the best gift ideas come from knowing what gifts other people enjoyed.
So what’s the best gift I’ve ever gotten? My first instinct is my Clarisonic. Really, I love that thing. But upon further reflection, I would say that it’s the Wii that my younger brother bought me for Christmas last year.
My brother had had a hard couple of years, but he had just gotten a new, good-paying job and was really turning it around. So when I opened the box and saw that he’d bought me a Wii, I was blown away. I really wanted one, but didn’t think anyone would spend that kind of coin on little old me. Plus, I think it made him really proud that he could afford to buy it for me, so that was nice too.
American Girl doll.
For as long as I can remember, I wanted to plan a European backpacking trip upon my graduation from college. Being that I was broke, I knew I was going to need help from my parents. But much to my disappointment, my parents said that they couldn't/wouldn't help me. However, when I graduated, they gave me a little box and that contained airplane cookies. When I flipped it over it said, “redeemable for 50,000 frequent flyer miles” – the exact amount for a round trip to Europe. Best gift ever.
Prada handbag from my husband when I finished graduate school. It was completely over the top and wonderful. He evenly clearly knew what I was looking for in a bag, great size and a place for the cell phone. The key was not only the extravagance, but knowing that he was keened in to me.
I couldn't say what the best gift I've ever received is. The best gift I've ever given though is pretty easy: My mom had a record of Art Garfunkel's Fate for Breakfast. She held on to it for ten+ years after our record player broke. She decorated her kitchen in blue and yellow because she liked the one on the cover so much. She never replaced the record though. So one year I bought her a cd version of the album. My dad later said that was the music they listened to when they first got married, so I was really glad I was able to give her back those memories.
The second best is something I'm working on for this year. My husband's ex-girlfriend gave him a raised seal that has “From the library of [his maiden name].” I'm trying to get him one with his current name for Christmas; I think it will mean a lot (BTW, we're good friends etc. so there's no awkwardness there).
I just participated in a Secret Santa exchange with my college roommates. Our spending limit was $10 – so we pretty much all expected gag gifts. However – my roommate knocked it out of the park when she handed me a beautifully embellished copy of “The Collected Stories of Sherlock Holmes,” knowing what a huge fan I am. She picked it up at a library sale months ago and had been saving it for me ever since. Just goes to show you don't need tons of cash to make someone feel special – a little thoughtfulness is all that's required
My Kindle! And this is back when Kindles were EXPENSIVE. But I travel a lot, and I read really quickly – and I love love love my Kindle. I always have more books to read, and it weighs practically nothing!
Elyse G. says:
At my bat mitzvah my dad & step-mother presented me with the best gift I have ever received. They handed me two jewelry boxes. The first one contained a charm bracelet with approx. 20 charms on there – each one commemorating a special trip or experience from the first 13 years of my life. The 2nd box contained a charm bracelet with 1 charm on it (a Torah w/ my bat mitzvah date engraved on it). They told me that that bracelet was for me to fill with memories as an adult. 11 years later I have 4 charm bracelets and I am close to needing a 5th.
SodaStream from my husband. Not the most romantic gift, but I use it every single day, multiple times a day. To say I'm obsessed with it is an understatement. Second runner-up would be the iPad.
The best gifts I've gotten have been gift certificates for services-a closet/home organizing service one year and a housekeeping service one year. If I truly want something material, I generally just buy it for myself, but, as disorganized as I am and as much as I hate cleaning, those were two things I wouldn't have spent my own money on for some reason. I think the best gifts are usually something you know the person really wants, but that he/she wouldn't spend money on. For example, I usually get my sister several restaurant gift cards-some for family places and some for more romantic places where she would go with just her husband. It seems kind of impersonal, but I know she loves eating out and hates cooking, but doesn't like to spend the money on eating out. So, it's a good treat for her and her family.
I guess my first pony doesn't quite count as an easily copied gift. But my first pony, and fleece-lined slippers with gum soles. They're amazing, warm, and you can walk in damp grass for a minute without having to switch to shoes.
Oh, and the best gifts I've ever given (IMO) were scrap books for my mom-one of her father's childhood and time in the Navy and one of her mother's childhood and young adulthood, and one of her childhood. She (and other relatives) had the pictures, etc. needed, but it was so disorganized. Her parents both passed away when she was on the younger side (her dad when she was in the mid-30's, her mom when she was in her late 30's) and we had talked quite a bit about how much she missed them. It was a super time consuming (and somewhat expensive) gift, but I know she loved it.
Long story, but it's a sweet one:
When my mom was in the hospital giving birth to my little sister, my grandpa took me to the toy store to pick out a new toy, so I would still feel special despite having a new sibling taking all of my parents' attention. Three-year-old me picked out a grey and pink Pound Purry cat, and I slept with that cat every single night. When I was 12, and traveling across the country with my family in our van, a transmission hose broke, and the whole van went up in flames. We lost everything that was inside, including my precious Pound Purry. For years afterwards, despite being “too old” to worry about a stuffed animal, I always hoped maybe somehow at Christmas there would be a new Pound Purry under the tree. Sometimes a well-meaning relative would buy me a grey stuffed cat of some sort, but it was never the same and I would always be so dissappointed.
A few Christmases ago, my mother brought out a cat-carrier and my heart sank, because for so many years I'd received stuffed cats that weren't my “real” Pound Purry, and I always had to pretend to be happy while my eyes would fill with tears at the memory of my stuffed cat and of my late grandfather. I opened the cat-carrier to find MY Pound Purry, the same one I had missed for so many years, and broke down sobbing. My mother, who was unemployed at the time, had spent a fortune to win it on an eBay auction. Yes, ladies, at 23 years old (and still to this day), my favorite Christmas present was a Pound Purry.
A few years ago I wan't expecting any gift from my parents because i knew they were trying to save money. well, my dad had some loose diamonds he had inherited decades ago and never done anything with. i was blown away when he had a jeweler design a beautiful heart shaped necklace for me out of them. i'm actually terrified of wearing the necklace because i'm always afraid something bad will happen to it. i've never had any really nice jewelry before.
My husband surprised me with black leather Jimmy Choo boots – they are perfect. They are the elusive black boots that I have been searching for for years, but could never find. They are classic, narrow enough for my skinny calves (which is always difficult to find!) and oh so comfortable. Love that he spent the time to pick them out for me 🙂
Perhaps not the best, but certainly thoughtful and affordable: a college friend bought me a year's subscription to Self magazine the December after we graduated college and moved apart. Every month I thought fondly of her when an issue arrived. And, five years later, I've continued to renew the subscription because I really enjoy the magazine.
This is the best gift I've ever given. Recently, my best friend was going through a bit of a tough place in life. Since she lives on the opposite coast I sent her gormet pigs in a blanket (yeah, I know, but we used to eat them in college and they are delicious) and three bottles of wine from Williams and Sonoma. The food had a special memory and the wine allowed us to share a glass of the same wine during our next phone call. If you are struggling with gift ideas this year, I highly recommend food that reminds the receiver of a special memory. And the food doesn't need to be expensive – you can really make it fit any price point.
My husband knocked it out of the park when he bought me a 4-pack for the local dance company's exchange. The gift came with the added bonus a dinner out before or after each show. We were in the middle of horrible scheduling which left us almost no time to be together save weekends when we just slept and cleaned. Those date nights saved my sanity and I got to see some really amazing shows.
Best gift: A few Christmases ago, my dad surprised my whole family by renting out the auditorium in the old Jr. High School on Christmas Eve so that we could all watch “It's A Wonderful Life” on the big screen. He had even filled stockings with popcorn and candy and set them in each chair. It was also the first time that I had brought my bf home to meet the family, and he was totally impressed. The fact that my dad had planned the evening on his own so that we could all enjoy some rare family time made the whole experience so special and memorable.
The second best gift that I ever got was a laptop from my parents in college.
I didn't realize it at the time, but the best gift I ever received was a super warm technical sleeping bag from my uncle who lived in Alaska when I was 11 or 12. I took it to Girl Scout camp, basement sleepovers, outdoor education trips in high school, family camping trips, college rowing trips and spring break, and every other trip I took. This dawned on me a couple months ago when–17 years later–I brought the sleeping bag camping with my husband and our friends. There isn't a single other gift that I've received that has got this much use for this long of a period of time.
The best gift I ever gave was a helicopter lesson for my husband. He was just as excited as a little kid.
My cat – my boyfriend at the time was moving to another state far away and I had just committed to three years of law school. They gave me a siamese kitten and he's been the best companion ever.
Hands down, the best gift I have ever received is a monthly maid service. My parents gave this to my husband and me (we both have full time “day jobs”, my husband has an evening job, and I am also a full time grad student) and the first Weds of every month for the past year we have been literally giddy coming home from work. There is nothing like opening the door to a magically, beautifully clean house! I usually rush to the phone and call my parents to tell them how fabulous it is!
Whitney, that is a fantastic gift!
My favorite recent gift was a gift certificate for a cooking course at La Academie de Cuisine. I still listen to the stereo I received from Santa circa 1990, so that's probably my most used Christmas present.
No Drama Mama says:
The summer I turned 10, my grandma paid for me to go to riding camp for my birthday. Best. Gift. Ever.
My husband recently got me a black Burberry trench for our anniversary. I'd been coveting one for over a decade, but always thought I could find a suitable, lower-price-point substitute. He went all out and got me the perfect coat in the perfect size. I couldn't love anything more! I know that I'll be wearing it for years to come.
Stephanie S. says:
I got a red Kate Spade mini back pack for my birthday in 1998 that I thought was just about the coolest thing ever. Still have it, although I haven't worn it years. That, my David Yurman hoops and Jo Malone perfume are some highlights.