Ideas for gift giving

Two Totebaggers seek advice about gift giving, and you can post your own questions in the comments.


Gift giving on a budget

by Louise

I like to give gifts but I have to look at my budget as well. DH has over the years delegated gift giving to me. I primarily buy for my nieces and nephews. For the adults it is occasional gifts if I think they would enjoy them.

I try not to splurge. In a nod to MMM, I had my DD “save” her birthday gifts (craft kits) and open them in the lean months.

What are your strategies for gift giving on a budget, saving gifts for later or do you turn into MMM (modern day Scrooge) and declare a gift free holiday ?


Gift giving for families in transition

by SWVA Mom

I was wondering today if I should get my estranged husband a Christmas gift and thought I should ask the Totebag. Do you or your friends/family exchange holiday gifts with the ex-spouse? If so, what’s appropriate? More specifically, is booze OK?

Do you help young children purchase something nice for their other parent or just let them go with the craft project they made at school? I’m not there yet, but same question for step-siblings who might come into the picture.

What about ex-in-laws? (I did send gifts to my nieces.) And do you still exchange holiday cards with the ex’s aunts/uncles/cousins?

Any other holiday etiquette tips for families in transition? Please share your funny stories or cautionary tales about broken & blended family holidays.

Household Appliances

by SWVA Mom

I’m getting ready to move into my new home, and fortunately it comes with all appliances except washer & dryer. The laundry room is a little tight – just a space between the garage and kitchen – so I don’t want the extra-large, super-capacity set from my current house. (And H wants to take them anyway.) Anyone have a recommendation?

I’m also very sad to be leaving my dishwasher behind. We were never happy with the one we originally selected for this house because it was too loud. So when the dishwasher in our rental property died a few years ago, we got a new one for home and had the installer take the old one to the rental. It’s a Miele, and I can actually have a phone conversation in the kitchen while it is running. The dishwasher in my new place is actually the same brand I had before but the model is one step down! I guess I’ll just have to remember to run it when I leave in the mornings or when I go to bed.

Totebaggers, what are your favorite home appliances? And let us learn from your mistakes – what about choices you have regretted?

Sweet Briar College Is Closing

by SWVA Mom

This article touches on some typical Totebag topics: STEM vs. liberal arts, rural vs. urban, having a variety of choices to find the right college fit, and the soaring cost of higher education.

Shocking Decision at Sweet Briar

This story caught my eye because I worked on a design & construction project at Sweet Briar many years ago. The campus is so beautiful – I hope someone will find a new purpose for the property. Another small, historically women’s college in Virginia was purchased by the Mormon Church several years ago and seems to be thriving, and a well-known Evangelical Christian university in Virginia has been growing both its online presence (recently hit 100,000 enrollment) and its campus ($400 million construction program), so maybe a church will step in and make a go of it.