I keep a list of a few things I want – as well as things I need. I don’t spend much on non-essentials. Sometimes I just get fixated on something I want, but don’t need. Since I’ve stopped shopping “just to look around,” impulse buys are getting rare.
What really irks me is when there’s something I need – like a raincoat – and I make a mistake, and buy one that meets all my criteria, but I end up unhappy with it. Maybe I decide it makes me look like a crossing guard, or maybe I realize it doesn’t go well with my boots, and I end up feeling “stuck” with this new raincoat that will have to last me the next 10 years. (This reminds me: when I was 13, I bought a poster of a band. In the store, I ran into a classmate who asked me what poster I bought. When I told her, she said, “Oh, OK, my mom likes them.” I never felt the same about the poster or the band after that. Shallow moi!)
Lately I’ve been hearing ads for wantster.com all over the place, a web site where you can bookmark things you like while shopping online, and share them with your friends. It’s specifically aimed at gift-giving, so you can show people what you like, and hope they will buy it for you. Every time I hear their ads, I think how the purpose of the site is so at odds with my lifestyle. But is it?
First of all, I exchange gifts for birthdays and Christmas with a lot of family members, and we always ask each other for ideas. If someone said, “You can just check my Wantster page” (or Pinterest), would I be offended? No. Although maybe Pinterest would be a little more subtle because they could just say “These are things I like” without outright asking for them. On the other hand, most people don’t have gift registries except for weddings.
Next, there really are things I want, and would prefer as gifts over other things. If I had a very low income and had definite needs, I might feel strongly about what people gave me. It might be my only opportunity to own, for example, a pair of computer speakers or a nice bottle of wine. Since that isn’t the case, all the gifts I receive are “extras” and I don’t make demands of the giver. I like seeing what my family members believe I would like, even if I wouldn’t have chosen it! It’s an interesting glimpse into how people perceive me.
Do you know anyone who never seems to pick up on cues or hints, and genuinely has no idea what to get you?
Buying for someone of a different generation can be tough – for example, what video games are your nieces and nephews allowed to own? Is your Nan into Downton Abbey?
Finally, some people are very sensitive about their gift not being liked or used, and they are the most likely to ask what you want. So I will admit to some modest wants to help them out!
Some things I’ve been wanting lately are an immersion blender, a panini press, a waffle maker, some good espresso, a bag of Jelly Bellies, a movie at a movie theatre, and some new music to add to my iTunes.
On my needs list are replacing a valve on my furnace, the installation of my new winter tires, and paying for my biennial car registration.
Which list would you rather think about?
The needs list will get taken care of, and the wants list is purely frivolous. How convenient that I have a birthday coming up…if I am not gifted any candy, I will treat myself!
Although it’s cliché, homemade or heart-felt gifts are always the best…a drawing, a photo, a handwritten letter, sharing a memory from when you were 13, or an in-joke between the two of you. I’m not seeing much of that on Wantster.
What do you want?