It goes against all my minimalist principles to say so, but I love giving and receiving gifts. A friend of mine mentioned in a conversation last night that giving gifts is her love language, i.e., the way that she expresses her love for others. I feel like receiving gifts is how I feel loved by others, so obviously this friend and I get along well, ha.
But in all seriousness, gift giving among loved ones is fun, and both giving and receiving gifts makes people feel good. I’m counting all gifts in this classification, by the way, from trinkets and food to experiences and the gift of quality time spent together. Gift giving for the sake of gift giving can be wasteful, but if done thoughtfully, it doesn’t have to be.
I would not consider myself to be the greatest gift giver in the world – I am more of the last-minute-panic-and-buy-something-random type. I am also notoriously bad at keeping secrets and have basically never given a gift without first telling the other person what it was (I get too excited, I can’t help it. My in-laws stopped telling me what they bought my husband for Christmas for this exact reason).
I start with good intentions, but execution is not my strong suit. Thankfully, my husband has always known this about me and does not fault me for it. Between the two of us, we devised a system of gift giving that cuts down on waste and ensures that both of us get the satisfaction of giving a gift the other person loves.
Here’s how we do it.
1. Agree on the rules for the occasion.
Have you ever been in a situation where someone hands you a gift and you don’t have anything to give back to them because you didn’t realize you were “doing gifts this year?” Yeah, we had a lot of those moments. We realized early on that this problem could be easily solved by having an honest conversation. I would like flowers for this occasion sent to my office so that everyone will be jealous of me. He would like car parts for this occasion because, for reasons I still don’t understand, car parts can apparently be romantic. Okay, great. We’ve set the expectations and no one ends up disappointed.
For us, the general breakdown looks like this: On birthdays and Christmas, we exchange actual gifts, usually something that can be put in a (recyclable) box and opened with glee. For Valentines Day and our anniversary, we pool our resources to go on a fancy date or purchase some art for our home. This year we bought a vase with some squids on it called “tentacles.” It’s amazing. While I would recommend setting a budget, I will admit that we don’t formally do this. Our finances are shared, so we both know about how much we can afford to spend on each other from year to year.
2. Just tell each other what you want.
Send web links. Circle things in catalogs. Tell your mom and your best friend. Playing the guessing game rarely pays off. Usually, someone is burying an ugly necklace at the bottom of their jewelry box or never ever wearing that sweater you were sure they would love. Just telling someone what you want cuts down significantly on their holiday stress levels, believe me.
When it comes right down to it, getting your significant other a present from a wish list that they developed, with money that you share between you anyway, seems unromantic. They could obviously buy that thing for themselves, and they probably would if it was any other time of the year. But I maintain that it is not the same. It’s really not about the gift, it’s about the symbolic gesture of giving somebody something you know is going to make them happy. So, when I wake up on Christmas Day and open up a pair of earrings that I strategically sent him a link to just before Black Friday, well, I still feel just as excited as I would if it was a surprise. Maybe even more so.
3. Consumables, wearables, and experiences.
There are types of gifts that are wasteful and types of gifts that are not. When gifting with my significant other, I always try to focus on things we can eat, wear, or do together. In past years, Matt has given me mostly makeup and jewelry. I like these types of gifts because they don’t sit around gathering dust, and I think about him whenever I wear them. Last year, he also got me a laundry set from The Laundress, which was an amazing, useful, consumable gift that I still use every week on laundry day.
Books and board games, while not exactly consumable or wearable, are also gifts that we love to give because they help foster experiences and they can be shared with friends. I got Matt a book on cheese-making last year that has been a very fun addition to our household, although he hasn’t had a chance to fully appreciate the book on cultivating mushrooms since I put my foot down on growing mushrooms in the living room.
What We’re Gifting This Year
I don’t know exactly what Matt is getting for me this year, but he knows exactly what I got for him (again, very bad at secret keeping). For the last two years, Matt has been about as obsessed with Everlane as I am, and so I usually get a link or two sent to me from the Men’s Gift Shop, which Everlane curates on its website each year. To my great joy, he told me he wanted a pair of Tread sneakers (to replace the pair of white slip-on Vans he has purchased, worn every day, and destroyed every nine months for the entire six years that I have known him – that’s a LOT of Vans), and a new overnight bag (formerly, a used grocery bag). The classic Mover Pack checked all his boxes for that one, especially because it comes in a really gorgeous deep green color that I personally think sets it apart from a lot of other good-but-boring bags.
I’ll be totally honest with you guys. Money is tight this year. I thought I could probably buy one of these things for him, but not both. Then, Everlane asked if I wanted to promote anything for December, and I went out on a limb and straight up asked for Christmas presents for my husband (#shameless). They were clearly in the Christmas spirit, because they said yes.
I gave him his presents early because 1. I got too excited and 2. I wanted to promote Everlane’s gift shop in a blog post before the holiday shopping season was over (the hustle is real). I think the beauty of the Men’s Gift Shop is that most of the stuff in it is actually unisex (Tread Trainer and Mover Pack included), and if you have a significant other who likes shopping in the men’s section and is thinking about transitioning to a more ethical wardrobe, gifting Everlane is a great place to start.
After giving him his gifts, I asked for a modeling session and a quick review, so here we go! Mr. Goblin Shark’s official blog debut.
In case you are wondering, yes, I did make Matt ring the doorbell to our own home for the purpose of this photo shoot.
Mr. Goblin Shark is wearing:
Shirt: The Waffle Knit Crew (Size M, $38) (last year’s Christmas present!)
Jeans: The Skinny Fit Jean (Size 34×32, $68) (faded because he wears them basically every day)
Shoes: The Gum Sole Trainer (Size 11, $98, gifted by Everlane)
Bag: The Mover Pack ($78, gifted by Everlane)
Review on the Tread Trainers: “I wanted these because it was time for an upgrade from my slip-on Vans. I needed something that offered more support and was easier to clean, but still felt stylish. The gum-sole style on the Tread trainers has a classic look and some nice details that I really like, and they are very comfortable.”
Review on the Mover Pack: “All green, everything. You know I love green things. I like that it’s classic like a duffel, but much more functional. The fact that it has two straps and that you can wear it like a backpack is really helpful. It holds a surprising amount of stuff – you can really fit a lot into it. I like a minimalist bag, and this has just enough compartments while still having clean lines. I just want to go on a trip so I have a reason to use it!”
So, there you have it. Straight from the husband’s mouth.
If you’re like me and you tend to put gift-buying off until the last minute, you still have some time to order from Everlane to get your purchase before Christmas. The last official day to order to get your stuff by 12/23 is 12/19. There are also going to be some express and 2-day shipping promos this week, so keep an eye out for those.
How do you work out gifting with your significant other?
This post is not sponsored, but it does contain affiliate links and some gifted items. All opinions expressed are my own (or Matt’s).