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  • gretchenrubin 12:00:29 on 2018/11/06 Permalink
    Tags: , , , guide, , , purchase,   

    Gift Guide for Kids in College and Middle School, Suggested by My Daughters 

    One of the great joys of life is giving people gifts that they want and need—and a big happiness stumbling block is not having any good ideas for what such a gift might be.

    I decided to ask my daughters what they'd suggest, for people wanting to buy gifts for children their age.

    My older daughter Eliza is a sophomore in college. She suggests:

    • temporary tattoos (such as these)
    • fun flip-flops for the shower
    • Command hooks of various kinds
    • twinkle lights
    • nice pens
    • a smart speaker
    • soft blanket
    • fun keychain
    • bean bag or inflatable chair (I have to admit, I had no idea what an "inflatable chair" was, but Eliza explained that it's something like this.)
    • a fun collapsible umbrella
    • gift card to Starbucks or food places

    My younger daughter Eleanor is in middle school. She made the point that this is a tough age for gift-giving, because kids are too old for toys but too young for many items that adults would enjoy.

    She suggests:

    If you're looking for unexpected, delightful gifts for recipients of any age, check out the MoMa Gift Store.

    What are your suggestions for good gifts for these ages?

     
  • gretchenrubin 12:00:05 on 2018/06/26 Permalink
    Tags: , , cookbooks, Julian Barnes, , outer order, purchase   

    Do You Like to Buy Cookbooks? Consider This List About How to Avoid Making Mistakes. 

    I'm not a cook myself, but I'm interested in the five senses, and I often choose library books very impulsively, so I recently picked up a little book by Julian Barnes, The Pedant in the Kitchen.

    In it, he writes a funny list about how to avoid making mistakes when buying cookbooks. Even though I myself don't have an issue with being tempted to buy cookbooks, I thought this was an amusing and helpful reminder of how we make mistakes in our purchases.

    He suggests:

    1. Never buy a cookbook because of its pictures. Nothing will look as good when you cook it.
    2. Never buy cookbooks with tricky layouts.
    3. Avoid cookbooks that are too general or too narrow. For instance, skip books like Great Dishes of the World or Waffle Wonderment.
    4. Never buy a cookbook written by the chef of a restaurant where you've just eaten. Barnes notes, "Remember, that's why you went to the restaurant in the first place—to eat their cooking, not your own feebler version of it."
    5. Never buy a cookbook focused on using a piece of equipment if you don't own that equipment.
    6. Resist anthologies of regional recipes bought as a souvenir.
    7. Resist books of famous historical recipes, especially in facsimile editions. (Gretchen: Always avoid facsimile editions! I've learned that the hard way.)
    8. Never replace a beloved old favorite with the new, updated, edition; you'll always use your original.
    9. Never buy a cookbook for a charity fundraiser. Give the cover price directly to the charity; they'll get more money, and you won't have to cull out the cookbook later.
    10. Remember that many cookbook writers have only one good cookbook in them.

    I'm working on my book Outer Order, Inner Calm, and one thing is clear—the best way to fight clutter is never to create it. If you're not going to make good use of a cookbook, it's easier to decide not to buy it than to figure out what to do with it once it's in your house!

    Do you love to buy cookbooks? My husband sure does. And they take up a lot of room.

    What further precautions would you add to this list?

     
  • feedwordpress 16:47:53 on 2016/12/16 Permalink
    Tags: buying, , , , , , , , , , purchase,   

    What Makes the Perfect Gift? Probably Not What You Think. 

    giftswrappedbows

    Lately, I’ve been shopping for holiday gifts, which raises questions. What makes a good gift? Is it better to surprise people, or to shop from a list they provide? Should I spend hours searching for just the right gift?

    If you’ve asked yourself these kinds of questions, John Tierney wrote an interesting New York Times article, The Perfect Gift? It’s the One They Asked For.

    He looked at the research, and it turns out:

    1. Focus on long-term enjoyment, not short-term drama. Recipients enjoy a gift more when it’s something they can really use, not something that’s a sensational reveal.
    2. It’s better to buy lots of people the same good present than to give everyone individual gifts that aren’t as good. We tend to think we need to give unique gifts, but recipients don’t care much about that.
    3. Re-gift without shame. Studies show that most people aren’t offended when their gifts are re-gifted.
    4. Take suggestions. If people tell you what they’d like as a gift, buy them what they’ve asked for instead of a surprise. (In my family, we’re all expected to write long lists for ourselves, to make gift-giving easier for each other.)
    5. If you give a gift card, make it as general as possible. The more specific it is, the less likely it is to be redeemed.  People like flexibility.
    6. Gift-recipients enjoy a gift if it’s something they like, no matter how much time or effort went into its purchase. For gift-givers, however, putting time and effort into a gift makes them feel closer to the recipient. Pouring a lot of energy into buying a gift is something that is nice for the giver, not as much for the recipient.

    Bonus tips from me:

    1. Items that are personalized seem more special, and these days, it’s easy to order personalized notepads, journals, mugs, sticky notes, etc.
    2. Think about The Five Love Languages. If your language is “Receiving Gifts,” remember that for other people, gift exchanges aren’t as meaningful as they are for you; try not to be hurt or angry if people don’t take the same time or effort that you do. And if the recipient of your gift speaks the language of “Receiving Gifts,” remember that to such a person, gifts have tremendous importance as expressions of love, so take gift-giving seriously.

    The post What Makes the Perfect Gift? Probably Not What You Think. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 20:23:54 on 2016/05/19 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , personal commandments, , purchase,   

    Have You Ever Been Made Happier by a “Modest Splurge?” Of What? For Me, Magic Markers. 

    magicmarkersmyset

    I’m an under-buyer, and for the most part, I dislike shopping, errands, and buying stuff.

    In fact, one of my happiness-project resolutions is to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” I remind myself that sometimes, it makes me happy to indulge in a modest splurge — to buy something that I don’t absolutely need, but that makes my day brighter in some way.

    I indulged in a modest splurge a few days ago.

    I was early for a meeting (I’m always early), so I decided to spend the time wandering around an art store. I love just looking at the things in art stores. This store, sadly, was going out of business, so prices were slashed.

    As a result, the shelves were fairly bare, but I happened to notice a giant box of beautiful, high-quality, double-ended magic markers.

    These particular markers hold special memories for me, because when I was in college, my roommate had twelve of these markers, and she prized them highly. She never let anyone borrow them, and we could use them only under her supervision. (Very wisely–she knew that we’d lose them, or leave the caps loose.) We had so much fun with those markers.

    I looked at the price. For a box of markers, it was still expensive. At the same time, it was an extraordinary bargain. But I didn’t really need the markers–we have lots of good markers already. But this was a really good set of markers. It would make me very happy to use them, and my daughters would also use them. But couldn’t we use the markers we already had? Well-made tools make work a joy; having these terrific markers might boost my creativity. Looking at the markers brought back happy memories. But if we didn’t make good use of the markers, I would feel guilty.  Etc., etc., etc.

    I bet the other customers thought I was a very odd person — I stood stock still, gazing at the box, as these questions played out in my head, for several minutes.

    At last, I remembered my resolution to “Indulge in a modest splurge.” And I thought, well, I’m going to get them! I love them.

    I got them home, my daughters were delighted with the markers, we all tried them out — and my older daughter asked, “Can I take some to school tomorrow?”

    First, I said “No way.” I was thinking–I want to keep the set nice, I don’t want to risk losing or spoiling one, I want to “save” them to keep them nice, etc.

    Then I remembered #7 of my Twelve Personal Commandments. Spend out. I tend to hold things back, so I have to remind myself to spend out. Use things up! Put them into circulation, put them to work! Better to use the markers all the time, and risk losing them, than to save them on the shelf, and never use them at all. (Plus my daughter is fairly responsible.)

    Have you ever made a “modest splurge,” where a purchase made you happier? What did you splurge on?

    The post Have You Ever Been Made Happier by a “Modest Splurge?” Of What? For Me, Magic Markers. appeared first on Gretchen Rubin.

     
  • feedwordpress 18:27:46 on 2015/12/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , impulse, , , , purchase, saving, , , Strategy of Inconvenience, Strategy of Monitoring,   

    Podcast 41: Take One Thing with You, the Challenge of Impulse Buying, and I Need to Get Back to the Gym. 

    podcastElizabethandGretchenStanding

    It’s time for the next installment of  “Happier with Gretchen Rubin.

    Update: Elizabeth’s trip to New York City, sadly, got cancelled.

    Try This at Home: Take one thing with you. A clutter-busting strategy. Yes, this is so simple that it sounds dumb, but try it!

    Happiness Stumbling Block: Impulse buying. We talk a lot about two strategies from Better than Before: the Strategy of Inconvenience and the Strategy of Monitoring.

    We also talk about under-buyers and over-buyers.

    Listener Question: “I have a lot to be grateful for, but I still don’t call myself a happy person. Why?”

    Elizabeth works in a plug for my Super Soul Sunday appearance with Oprah. What a nice sister.

    Gretchen’s Demerit:  Since we got Barnaby, I’ve stopped going to my cardio gym.

    Elizabeth’s Gold Star: Elizabeth’s sister-in-law Michelle did a great job hosting Thanksgiving.

    Call for comments, questions, observations!

    In a few weeks, we’re going to do a round-up episode on the Four Tendencies. We’ve had so many great comments from listeners, so we want to highlight some responses — and we want more. In particular, we want to throw out a few questions.

    Can you think of some famous examples of the Four Tendencies? For instance, Hermione Granger. Textbook Upholder!

    Do you like your Tendency? Why or why not?

    Obligers, if you’re experiencing Obliger-rebellion, I’d love to hear your experience. Especially how you got out of Obliger-rebellion.

    If you’re paired with a Rebel, at home or at work, how does that work for you?

     

    As always, thanks to our terrific sponsors

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    Happier with Gretchen Rubin #41 - Listen at Happiercast.com/41

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