Archive for the ‘Gifts’ Category

Service of Taking Stock of an Unusual Gift Idea

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

Gift card

Here’s a new idea: Spend $29.95 for a gift card [$4.95] worth $25 of stock in a choice of some 20 companies such as Tesla Motors, Nike, Coca-Cola, Apple or Facebook. You’ll find the cards in stores like Office Depot and Kmart [and before the holidays expect to see them in Safeway, Toys “R” Us and Lowe’s]. You can also buy cards worth $50 and $100.

To activate the card, the recipient registers it on the Stockpile website. That’s the company that invented the concept. While there are no monthly or activation fees, wrote Robin Sidel in “Shopping List: Milk, Bread, Equities,” in The Wall Street Journal, it costs 99 cents per transaction to sell or buy.

Savings bond“The cards work like traditional gift cards but recipients receive stock instead of merchandise when they cash them in. If they want, customers can swap the shares they have received for other stock.” Sidel quoted a market strategist as likening the cards to savings bonds that children received as gifts in days of yore. [The buyer paid, say, $18 and in x years the recipient could redeem the bond for $25.]

Gift cards are popular with consumers. Last year, wrote Sidel, we bought $93.9 billion worth. “Only 13.8% of U.S. families own stock directly, down from nearly 18% before the financial crisis,” according to the Federal Reserve, Sidel reported.

Two old womenMany years ago a friend gave his elderly housebound mother and aunt, who lived together, small amounts of stock. It gave them something to look forward to: They followed the market daily, and had skin in the game–but not enough to jeopardize their or their nephew/son’s futures. It was a delight to see their enthusiasm on a subject about which they knew nothing before he’d introduced them to stocks.

It’s too early to tell whether the concept will change the investment landscape, wrote Sidel. Do you think it has a chance to do that? Would his kind of purchase appeal to you as a gift? Do you think it will make money for the recipient or just for Stockpile? I wonder what the tax ramifications will be, if any.

Gift card 2

Service of Thank You

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

Thank you 1

Niece Alison, 12, at right

Niece Alison, 12, at right

I’ve written about this subject most often relating to those who don’t–for wedding gifts or business support–and those who do extremely well. In a recent radio interview I heard of brides who write one email blast thanking all gift-givers in an e-note.

I enjoy writing thank you notes and this year my work is cut out for me.

Here, first, I wanted to thank you. I am constantly shocked by people who tell me they read this blog and those who suggest ideas for posts and who comment. All give the most precious gift: Time. Between frantically busy lives with deadlines and obligations and communications at warp speed and transportation universally more complicated and time-consuming, I am viscerally aware that every second counts. Can you believe that the blog was five years old in November?

Next I am grateful to my nieces who live far away yet stay in touch. It’s unusual for almost teens/20-somethings to communicate with grownups.

Christmas cards decorate the house. I love the colors and messages inside.

We were spoiled by amazing, imaginative, thoughtful, often handmade and practical gifts–too, too many. My nephew noticed that I freaked when the fresh turkey I bought for Thanksgiving didn’t come with a pop up device to indicate the bird was cooked. One gift he gave me: a package of the pop up timers!

I started to share a list that included homemade jams, sauce, candied fruits, chocolate, whiskey cakes and biscotti to a designed, cross-stitched and framed saying enhanced by cross-stitched hearts and ribbons: “Parcels and packages, silk ribbons tied, eyes filled with wonder to see what’s inside.” But the list felt too much like that wedding gift email blast I criticized in the lead as well as a boast. We are blessed and spoiled.

What are you most thankful for? Have you received or heard of creative thank you missives?


Thank you 3





Service of Wedding Gift Etiquette: Experts from Bridal Guide, Huffington Post & liliandloo Chime In

Monday, August 5th, 2013

wedding gifts wrapped

We’re invited—and looking forward to attending–a September wedding. I checked in with a friend who goes to many such events only to confirm that some issues never change. Take RSVPs. Do Wedding invitationpeople not reply because of fear of commitment of their time in hopes that something better will crop up? As long as I can remember, in both personal and business situations, too many remain silent leaving it up to the hosts to follow up.

What about gifts? Like holiday tips, opinions differ. So after sharing hers—send a gift if you’re invited–my pal forwarded two points of view she read on line.

An invitation is not an invoice wrote Robert B. Dimmick of, who technically was covering Bar and Bat Mitzvahs but who noted the same goes for weddings.

Katherine Bindley disagreed in her Huffington Post piece. She’d interviewed Emily Post’s great great granddaughter, Anna Post, and Sharon Naylor, author of 35 books about weddings. In “Wedding Etiquette: The Do’s and Don’ts of Being a Guest,” Bindley wrote: “Etiquette dictates that if you were invited, you owe the couple a gift, even if you can’t make it to the wedding.” She quotes Post: “‘one invitation to a wedding ceremony equals a wedding gift.’”

Diane Forden, Bridal Guide editor in chief

Diane Forden, Bridal Guide editor in chief

I then turned to Diane Forden, editor in chief of Bridal Guide magazine who wrote in an email: “Technically you are not obligated to give a wedding gift. However, most people today do send a gift even if they’re not attending the wedding.

“Personally, I think it depends upon your relationship to the bride or groom,” the Bridal Guide chief editor continued. “For example, a former assistant sent me an invitation to her wedding and even though I couldn’t attend, I did give her a gift. But if someone I hadn’t seen in years sent me a wedding invitation then I would send a card with a personal greeting but no gift.”

[I still remember a person who came to my wedding and sent neither a gift nor a card so if you want to be memorable, that’s a route to consider.]

The bridal registry for the September celebration included a great looking dinner service so I had no trouble selecting a gift I’d be pleased about but I’ve run into snags in the past where the registry store is a place I won’t support.

Bindley warned that you must shop from the registry. “If you don’t, ‘It comes off as I knew what you wanted but I didn’t care,’ Naylor explained. ‘Or it comes off as I had this laying around and I’m re-gifting, even if you actually purchased a new gift specifically for this couple.’”

Forden wrote: “As far as sending only a gift from the registry, I disagree. Yes, we all know that the items the couple would like to receive have been registered for and if you’re going to the bridal shower you would most likely get a gift from the registry. But you’re not obligated to do so for the wedding gift.

Gift of money“Many people give money while others choose a more unique, creative gift. A friend’s mother once told me that her favorite wedding gift was to give the couple a private dinner in their home prepared by a chef from one of their favorite restaurants. After the wedding and honeymoon and now settled back into their every day routine, what could be nicer than a romantic dinner prepared exclusively for them in their own home? Needless to say, the couples were all thrilled with this special gift.”

liliandloo logoWe asked Melinda Slover, founder and inspiration for one of the east coast’s best gift emporiums, liliandloo in Hudson, N.Y. Along with countless creative, smile-inducing well-priced gifts for all occasions the store also sells furniture and fashion. According to Slover some customers groan to her about a bride’s bland registry choices and tell her that they want to send something stunning. Ducking the registry isn’t isn’t always a good idea Slover tells them and reminds them that the registry represents what the bride would like.

“Before I became a bride,” said LG, [not the bride at the wedding we’re going to] “I thought it didn’t matter but now that I’m getting married, I prefer when friends and family buy gifts from my registry or better yet, give a check. With so many bills to pay associated with the wedding and honeymoon, it’s the one gift that all brides want to receive! If they don’t choose a registry item though, I’ll end up with several of something I already own or worse, something I simply do not want and know I will not use.  Registry or money will also help me not to have to fill in with my own money to complete a set of glasses, dinnerware or cutlery.”

Do you think you’re obligated to send a gift if you’re invited to any formal event, whether or not you can attend? Has what Diane Forden, Melinda Slover, Katherine Bindley or the bride LG expressed changed your mind about using a bride’s gift registry?

Bridal Guide

Service of Holiday Memories

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Nephew and niece, Edward & Alison

Nephew and niece, Edward & Alison

Vicki Hidalgo, an officemate, made delicious cookies–her late Aunt Bessie’s Christmas recipe—as a gift to us all. They lasted minutes as word spread about how amazing they tasted.

Vicki Hidalgo

Vicki Hidalgo

She told me that as a child, the family would gather for the holiday at her grandmother’s home. Her grandmother had seven children so on Christmas day, at 5 pm, after the 40 adults and children had finished her farina pudding, they’d open presents. Under the tree, along with the gifts, were beautifully wrapped packages of cookies which Aunt Bessie had marked for every guest. Vicki said, “We couldn’t wait until we got permission to open the cookies!” Now that’s the sprit of Christmas.

christmas-stockingI’d wait for my mother to wake up on Christmas morning to see what Santa put in my Christmas stocking. She acted as delighted as I was with each miniature surprise, wrapped in tissue paper and chosen to fit in the red stocking with my initials embroidered on the white cuff.

Do you have Christmas or Hanukkah memories to share?


Service of Favorite Gifts

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011


I love giving and getting gifts.

At this time of year I like to think of some of the best gifts I’ve given.

My definition of best means perfect for the person. When my oldest nephew John was five, I gave him a football outfit. Other adults thought he was much too young for this extravagance [for me] but I had a gut feeling he’d like it. He did: Especially the shoulder pads and helmet. He wore the helmet everywhere, or at least when he’d spend the night at his grandparent’s home [where I lived then too].

knitting-and-yarn1One Christmas I knitted sweaters although I hadn’t knitted in eons and had made only one–for a child–before. Most of the sweaters were an embarrassment. Only one turned out: It was my Dad’s. It was handsome.

I can’t list the many favorite gifts I’ve received because there are so many. And I like to keep my posts short and to hear from readers–not do all the “talking.” Also I don’t want readers of this blog, some of whom have given me wonderful, thoughtful, toothsome and/or stunning presents, to feel miffed if I don’t mention one of theirs.

I’ll nevertheless share a few:

My stepdaughter once sent a huge box filled with every color of lilac that she’d picked in New England and carefully packed [obviously not for Christmas].

When I had chickenpox, my sister gave me a felt dog with sad sack expression and circular markings that I loved to shreds.

pandaMy aunt gave me a soft and fuzzy panda when I was a child far too old to officially receive such a toy. It was perfect for me: I still love stuffed animals.

More recently, Homer gave me my cat, Caramelli, my digital camera and [not so recently] a wedding ring.

What gifts have you most enjoyed receiving and giving?


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