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Gift Guides Journal

let’s give a little, shall we?



It's gift-giving season—that time of year when we stress about what to give, how much to spend, and hope that our recipients like what we give them. This year, Bob and I decided to forego gifts to each other (and just get something small for Ruby) since we're saving up to buy a house and want those dollars to go towards a bigger prize later on. But now that Ruby is starting to understand the idea of presents, we want to teach her how the best part about giving gifts is how happy it makes the person you're giving to and how to think about what the recipient would like when picking out a gift. So, we're each taking her to an everyday store (like a dollar store, the grocery store, or Target) to buy a few small gifts (under $20 in total) for Mama and Daddy. Yesterday, I took her to Target pick out some things for Bob. Here's what she picked (it's amazing how insightful a two-year-old can be).

We wove in and out of the aisles, and I kept saying, "What does Daddy like? What would make him smile?" At first, Ruby pointed out things that she would like—a ball, a Christmas ornament, and a sippy cup. But I kept saying, "Remember, this gift is for Daddy." We walked away with what I think is a pretty good collection of things…


– Glasses with a mustache—because Daddy always says how he wishes he could grow a mustache. And he wears glasses in the morning before he puts on his contacts.

– Crayons—because Daddy draws lots of pictures for Ruby like Elmo, Dora, and Odie (even though Ruby doesn't know who Odie is).

– Potato Chips—because chips are Daddy's favorite snack.

It was fun to think about what your recipient would really want and enjoy in this simple way. Starting tomorrow, I have a bunch of gift guides coming to inspire some shopping and thoughts of gifting for your loved ones.


  1. this is such a sweet idea and teaches the best lesson! kudos to you for staying grounded in the important things. Ruby is a blessed little girl!

  2. Love this idea – I think I’ll try to take my kids seperately to pick out things for each other, but it would be fun to add daddy in there too 🙂

  3. Joy – Several years ago, my husband and I also decided to stop giving each other gifts at Christmas. We aren’t saving for a house, but we did use the money for gifts for something more meaningful, like water filters to provide clean water in a developing country. Come December 26th, there’s no “gift hangover” or sense of letdown…it’s wonderful! You may find that you and Bob continue the no gift tradition ;).

  4. So sweet! I’ve been trying to have this same conversation with my 3.5 year old about what her own daddy would like for christmas, and she just keeps naming things from her own list. Maybe we need to physically go to target and look at things for it to actually sink in. She did however buy me teal (cause it’s my favorite color) underpants (cause who doesn’t love cute new underpants) for my birthday, which I found to be so sweet and adorable. She was so proud of herself. Thanks for the idea!

  5. Love this, Joy! What a great way to teach a child to have a giving heart. All the best in saving for a house (SoCal real estate is crazy)!

  6. You two are great parents my dear. 🙂 What a gift in itself…teaching your little one how to spread joy. Think you may be molding an awesome gift whisperer, too.
    Hope to see you tonight at Urbanic!


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