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From year to year, we don't remember what we gave as gifts for occasions. If we attend the bar mitzvah of a friend's child, it would be nice to know how much we wrote the check for so, when their second child has his bar mitzvah, we can go back and see what we gave his brother so there is not such a disparity. I have created an Excel spreadsheet which I call "What we gave."
Column A is the name of the person we gave a gift to. Column B is the gift or amount of check. Column C is the occasion (Christmas, Bar mitzvah, Birthday). Column D is the date.
From year to year I had trouble remembering what gift we gave our cleaning lady for Christmas, what we gave the beautician who has done my hair for over 20 years. Also, much to my chagrin, I've noticed that I don't remember things like I used to when I was younger. This is a big help!
This is also helpful in logging what people gave us for gifts (my husband, my son, myself). If someone gave my son $150 for a bar mitzvah gift, I am not going to give her son only $100. Anyway, it helps me a lot.
By Candace Kowal from Scottsdale, AZ
If a gift giving occasion has arisen and you've found you're running low on funds, pal up to friend or loved one who'll also be giving a gift for the same person. Let the 2 (or more) of you all go in together on a gift. The more allowed in on this gift the better as you're more likely to acquire a gift that the receiver has had his or her eye on!
Last year while Christmas shopping my best friend and I stumbled across a used books store. I found lots of things I wanted, and she found a couple of vintage black and white film noir movies. I never knew she liked vintage movies!
Anyhow, the upshot was that later in the week, I took in a large box of books that I no longer read. They were collecting dust on my bookshelves. I traded all of them for the two vintage movies that she liked and one of the books that I liked.