Episode #36: (MINI) Yes, I Buy All My Own Gifts!

Hi hi! So, I mentioned in one of last week’s episodes that I buy all my own gifts and you all wanted to hear more about this. So here’s a full (mini!) episode about how that started and why it works for us!

You can stream the episode here on the blog or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

Show notes:
So, this episode is about how I buy all my own gifts, and even wrap them and write “to: Elsie from: Jeremy” and then act surprised and give him credit when I open them. Haha … I know it probably sounds insane to some, but I love it. In this episode, we also talk generally about great gifts, so these show notes will be a lot of links to our favorite things … a gold mine of gifting!

Best gifts I have bought myself:

-Engraved name rings for our girls. These are the ones I have for our girls. I got them when we were matched with each girl, but then didn’t put them on until after our family day (a-little-sticious).

And this is my other favorite Etsy ring—perfect for shorter names, and maybe better alone than in a stack.


These are a few of my favorite brands (and the prettiest that make great gifts!).
Leahlani (the ultimate!)

Youth To The People
Roller skates. They come in so many beautiful colors.

-Books, especially extra large art or design books.

-Ceramics. I LOVE ceramics. These are the Australian mugs I was talking about getting for Mother’s Day … which OOPS, they are not even based in Australia. Must have got them mixed up.

I also just bought this mug from Etsy.

And I love this shop!

-Shout out to Thistle Farms candles, especially the Christmas tree one (you all know by now I use all the fir needle and spruce essential oils year round!). But I think you have to stock up during the holidays. Do you all think I’m insane that I want my home to smell like Christmas trees year round?

-Here’s a link to Emma’s robot vacuum cleaner.

My favorite gifts (for myself or to give!!!)

-handmade mugs


-vinyl records

-beautiful stationery

-adding to a collection

-art and art prints

-cute stuff from Etsy

Happy Monday! Thank you so much for listening to our podcast! xx

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 36 Transcript

Elsie: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess podcast, so I mentioned in one of our previous episodes that I buy all my own gifts and surprise, surprise, you want to hear all about that. So we decided to do this mini episode, all about my unique gifting situation.

Emma: Yes. So if I didn’t hear that was in one of the last episodes, which was about Internet critiques and bullying and we’ll link it in our shownotes at abeautifulmess.com/podcast. But yeah, Elsie was telling a story and she just mentioned because it was relevant to the story, that she buys all of her own gifts for holidays. This one, you were buying your own Valentine’s present and people really honed in on that. So you’re like, let’s do a mini about it because people want to know. So I’m just going to ask you a few questions about it. I’m going to pretend — I already knew about it, but I’m going to try to pretend, put myself in other people’s shoes and see, you know, so they can get the scoop.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: Journalism. No, I’m just kidding. So, first of all, when did you and Jeremy start doing this?

Elsie: Ok.

Emma: Have you done it your whole marriage? Did you do in your dating? What sparked it? I guess…

Elsie: I was trying….it definitely started before we got married. I was trying to remember exactly when. So we dated for, I think, like three years before we got married. He probably bought me gifts for the first maybe year. And then I don’t know when it started or how actually. Oh, actually, I do remember. OK. I remember the first Christmas that I bought my own gift is because we bought we wanted to buy a record player and we decide it was like sort of like our gift from both of us to both of us. Like, it was sort of like, we both were gonna share this gift that we really wanted. We didn’t have a lot of money. So it was just like the most efficient way to do it. So maybe that was the origin of it. But I know for sure that on our first Christmas as married and from then on, forever more. I buy all my own gifts. I wrap them. I act surprised. I tell him thank you for them. I genuinely kind of feel like he bought them for me because really, this is my perspective. What’s the difference between telling him and dropping hints and ordering it myself and, you know, getting the exact perfect thing that I want?

Emma: Mm hmm. And does he buy his own gifts?

Elsie: No. I still buy him gifts because he just doesn’t care. His family’s not the most into, like, gifts.

Emma: Mm hmm.

Elsie: Like, you know, regular. But they’re not like I’m crazy into gifts. So he just doesn’t really care about gifts. Like, I always get him cookbooks. He collects cookbooks, and then we’ll get, like, things that he wants or can use, like he really wants these new tennis shoes for Father’s Day. I’ve already had it planned out like so…stuff like that. Let’s it’s like he’s a pretty efficient person to buy for. Like, it’s very easy to always know what he wants. And I think I’m a very tricky person to buy for because I like very specific things. And sometimes I change my mind…

Emma: I think you are tricky. Yeah I buy you presents now and again like for your birthday and such and I do feel a lot of pressure.

Elsie: No! Emma!

Emma: Because it’s like “oh, does she already have this or. I know she likes this brand but is she really gonna like this sweater or this necklace” or whatever it is, you know. So I could totally understand it being like a high pressure thing. So yeah, that makes sense. So is it all Christmas, Mother’s Day anniversary, Valentine’s Day? Is there any time you don’t buy your own gifts? I guess is what I’m asking. So the oh. Oh, this is so funny. The only time that he surprises me is that he gets me like food gifts, and it’s usually funny, like it’s usually either pizza or Doritos because I love classic Doritos and I only eat them ever…like last year on Mother’s Day was the last time I got some. And it was like a bottle of wine and Doritos on our coffee table when I came out or something like that. So…

Emma: You were like “he sees me”.

Elsie: It’s not like he never does it or like he doesn’t want to. It’s just he doesn’t need to because I love doing it and he knows I’m going to. And I always like check him like, do you want me to get my own Christmas gifts? And he’s like, yeah, sure, do it. So yeah, if he had something that he wanted to do, I think he totally would.

Emma: Oh yeah, I’m sure. Is there like something that Jeremy does in place of that? Because I feel like the point of gifts isn’t always the thing. It’s the, you know, thoughtfulness or the whatever. So like, what is I mean, I know he’s a very thoughtful person. Like, I already know that, I know who I’m talking about. So, you know, is there something like, oh, he’s just not really into. Gifts. But this is his thing.

Elsie: He’s yeah, he’s an extremely thoughtful person. And the things that I usually ask him for are like this year for Mother’s Day. I was like, please, please, please finish Marigold’s Family Day video. And he has like, you know, written me songs, made videos, things like that that are really sweet. And I would way rather have a gift like that for sure. And if it’s something, you know, from Nordstrom, then I can just order it myself.

Emma: Yeah, true.

Emma: Do you do all the buying of gifts, like for your children?

Elsie: Yeah. So when it’s Christmas time, I basically buy all the gifts for our whole Christmas tree. And I was texting with our friend Elise today because she also does all her own gifts.

Emma: Our third sister.

Elsie: Yes. Our third sister, Elise.

Emma: She did not sign up for that but we adopted her.

Elsie: She also like voluntarily publicly admitted it, too. Like a lot of people, I think DO do this, but then they kind of like don’t want to admit it for some reason. But I don’t see why it matters because, like I mean, I’m still doing it right.

Emma: Maybe they’re afraid that they’re, like, outing their partner, but I…

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: Sounds like you and Jeremy don’t see it that way. Like, it’s not a shameful, he doesn’t think about you ever, so he never buys you a present. It’s like that’s just if anyone knows, Jeremy, that it’s just so obvious. That’s like not what he’s like.

Elsie: Yeah. I feel like when Jeremy wants to be romantic, he’ll be like, “hey, do you want to go to Whole Foods?” And I’ll be like, “oh my God, I love you so much!”

Emma: Because he doesn’t like to go there? Or because he knows you just love it…

Elsie: I just love stuff like that.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: It just makes me happy, especially if I’m not expecting it then it’s.

Emma: Yeah. It’s like a big bonus.

Elsie: So yeah. So I do all of the gifts for anniversaries, birthdays, Christmas. Now we have Mother’s Day so we’ve really accumulated a lot of holidays. I made a little list of my favorite things I’ve bought for myself and I’ll link all these the show notes.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: abeautifulmess.com/podcast.

Emma: OK, how many are there. Is this like top five gifts that Jeremy has given you over the years?

Elsie: Yeah, there’s four things on here. And then I have like OK, I have like three lists I don’t know why. I’m like…I was just a little bit drunk when I made this. (laughs) Just kidding. OK, so the first one was engraved rings with our girls names on them. So I got them from Etsy. They’re beautiful, special, I’ll link the exact ones in the show notes and then maybe even a couple more that are just also really pretty, but for a really long names…because Marigold’s name is very long, this particular ring is perfect. They’re really small. I sometimes wear them with my wedding band and then sometimes I like to give my fingers a break so I switch them around to different hands. The next thing I love buying for myself is all the skin care things. So I now have this shrine in my bedroom, which I can’t wait to show. I think I’ve kind of put it on tiktok, but I got this sort of like rattan hutch because our bathrooms are very small and not ideal at the moment. Needs to be remodeled, and my baby was getting into my skin care like every day. And it was just it was too much.

Emma: Goldie…this stuff’s expensive!

Elsie: Yeah, it’s expensive and some of it’s dangerous. You know, there’s like nail polish in there and other things. So I really had to do something about it. So I got this hutch. And it’s just a simple, I think it actually is a wardrobe, but I just put… like it came with extra shelves and so I just didn’t put the bar in and I put the shelves instead. So all it is is a shelf unit with doors. But anyway it has at the very top shelf all my expensive skincare stuff. And I just…I love it so much because it’s like at night I can just like open it, I can pick things out and it’s a little bit like of a religious experience. It’s glorious.

Emma: Yeah. You you said shrine, so, I imagine when you open the door it’s like, (sings) ahhh!

Elsie: Oh yes. Another of my favorite gifts of all time from Jeremy, quote unquote, from Jeremy, was my pink roller skates, which, you know, I’ve been using them recently because of how embarrassing story.

Emma: Everyone wanted that bike for Christmas, stationary bike, and you were like, no, I need some roller skates.

Elsie: Yeah, Peloton?

Emma: Yeah, yeah.

Elsie: Yeah. I don’t think I’m gonna put a Peloton in my home. I’m just not a home gym…if…maybe if I had a room I didn’t know what to do with, but I, I personally couldn’t bear to put it in like the side of the living room or something which I feel like a lot of people have to do. And it’s, it’s a sacrifice. You have to be willing to make a sacrifice.

Emma: Yeah, or your bedroom or something. Yeah, it is a little bit of a sacrifice unless you have a home gym.

Elsie: I do wish my garage was a little bit more like, cleaned out so that I could roller skate — I’ve been practicing my spins. (laughs).

Emma: Yeah!

Elsie: OK. So another thing that I love to buy are the bigger, more expensive art and design books. So, you know, like a book that’s like fifty dollars, you just feel like you’re not going to buy it, just like on a Tuesday. You want it to be special for an occasion. And I think some books are like that. The bigger — I have a lot of like interior design type books and like, you know, the “cabin porn” and all of that, like some mid-century ones. And then some photography books and then some art books. And they’re all very special. And it’s just fun to have big books like that that you can move around on your coffee tables and you’re you know, it’s like a big part of my decorating is the big books.

Emma: Oh, yeah. Yeah. Plus, they’re like so large format and colorful. I actually think they’re really fun for kids too. They may not like always understand what the content is or whatever, but it’s like really fun and pretty. It’s just very stimulating.

Elsie: Yeah, no. Totally.

Emma: Yeah. Those books are rad.

Elsie: Emma has this really pretty David Bowie book that I’m always coveting when I go to her house.

Emma: I, I actually put it last time I was there, I put it in my Nashville BnB.

Elsie: Oh! I’m gonna go steal it.

Emma: I like sometimes takes stuff there and then I take it back and, you know, it’s kind of risky, I guess, to put a book. Someone could steal it. But I just don’t think anyone will. But, who knows.

Elsie: I think I will.

Emma: (laughs) Well, it’s close to you. It’s in your town.

Elsie: These are just my favorite gift ideas. Kind of like my go-tos.

Emma: Ok OK. Like candles or something.

Elsie: Right.

Emma: I mean, I know candle isn’t going to be for you. But, you know.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: OK, cool. Yeah. Yes.

Elsie: I would put a candle. If it was from this from Thistle Farms.

Emma: Those are the best.

Elsie: Their Christmas tree candle is my favorite candle. I love to get skincare…because I feel like it’s expensive and people don’t always want to spend that on themselves. So it’s fun to get it as a gift because then you, you know, you get this expensive stuff. It’s kind of luxurious. You get to try it. It’s special. It’s an experience. So I think it makes a great gift. Records, I always say that buying a record player is the gift that keeps on giving forever. Because if you’re married, you can get a record for your husband or your partner, your wife every single holiday until you die. It’s so cool.

Emma: Yeah, true.

Elsie: I love it. Beautiful stationary. That’s just like a personal one. But when someone with good taste gives me stationary, my heart explodes with joy, adding to a collection. So, you know, Ting has the Jonathan Adler animals. So a couple times I’ve given him those whenever…he’s helped me so much. And sometimes I just feel like I owe him a debt that can never be repaid. And I have to buy him an animal. OK. Another great gift is our art prints, which I feel like is kind of a ballsy gift. But if you know you know, like if you know that the person will love it. And I would say maybe, maybe a small print, maybe now giant one. But a few times people have given me art prints and they’re they’re my favorite because then there’s like this extra meaning behind it, you know? And I love it. I love it. Whenever you get a gift, that is something that you end up seeing every day or, you know, it’s a part of your home, a part of your routine in some way.

Emma: Yeah, I love that. I do feel like it is pretty ballsy, though, because you have to kind of know what colors they’re going to like or what style or, you know. But, yeah, I think, you know, if you could buy them a shirt you could probably buy them, you know, a piece of art, you know what I mean?

Elsie: For sure. So do you ever buy your own gifts? Or I’m totally alone on this, right?

Emma: Yeah. No, I don’t buy my own gifts ever. I do buy things for myself sometimes, but not my gifts. No, Trey is actually a really good gift giver. Like he’s much better than I am I. Okay. So I am good at remembering. I remember to get gifts for anyone in our family or you know, whatever, like I remember and that and that’s my thing. Is my gift gonna be really great? I mean I’m going to do my best, but you know, but Trey is very, very thoughtful. He doesn’t always remember everyone’s you know, he remembers to give me things, you know, but, you know, he doesn’t always do that for everyone else. But he when he does give me gifts, they’re always like, really, really good. This year for Christmas it was a bunch of stuff from Bando, a bunch of, like, baby Yoda stuff and Disney+ because I’m obsessed with baby Yoda And I also got like one of those robot vacuum cleaners.

Elsie: Oh, nice.

Emma: Yeah, because we have a real dog hair problem.

Elsie: I really want one. But I feel like since I have so many shaggy rugs, I am not eligible. Is that true?

Emma: It might get stuck.

Elsie: I think I’m ineligible.

Emma: It gets stuck more than I would like but yeah. Yeah.

Elsie: No my house is pretty much just like wood floor, shaggy rug. Wood floor, shaggy rug. You know. So yeah.

Emma: Your dogs aren’t quite as shed-tastic is mine. I mean maybe they are. I don’t know, I don’t like Dolly’s as bad.

Elsie: They’re not bad.

Emma: Yeah.

Elsie: Well they’re a little bit bad but.

Emma: All right. Well I think that’s about it. I feel like that answers people’s burning questions about Elsie buying all our own gifts.

Elsie: Yeah. To summarize, you don’t have to feel guilty for it. It doesn’t make your husband a bad husband. If it’s more fun for you and what Elise said when I was texting her, I forgot to say what she said, was that she’s so picky that this was just like a win win for both of them. And I’m that way, too. I just change my mind about what I love all the time. And then I get really, really excited about a specific thing (laughs).

Emma: Right, yeah. That’s pretty tough. Yeah. Tall order.

Elsie: Yeah.

Emma: Cool.

Elsie: So anyway, if you feel like buying your own gifts, do it. Just try it. Just see how it feels. And if you think that’s not special, that’s OK. You do you.

Emma: Yeah. Pretty much everybody should do what works in their own marriage.

Elsie: Yes. Well have a great week, everyone. Stay safe.

Emma: Yeah, thanks for listening.

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  • I love love love this podcast!! My first Christmas with my boyfriend at the time (now spouse), I got all the gifts for stuffing the stockings for both him and his children, even bought new matching stockings. And for the most part, I bought all the gifts for him and the kids (he helped in picking out a few things). On Christmas Eve, while the children were sleeping, we placed the gifts out by the tree and I started to stuff the stockings, as I was almost finished (my stocking hanging untouched) he then realized he was suppose to get stuff for my stocking. When Christmas morning comes, his little girl asks why my stocking had nothing, so I explained that Santa must have filled my stocking at my parents house (as I was still living there technically). Lucky to my surprise, my mother indeed had a stocking filled for me to open when we all got there. Fast forward through the rest of our Christmas’ and I know to just get my own stuff. I will give him credit this past year he surprised me with a gift I love, and that I didn’t ask for. He even noticed that it was the first year I loved something he gifted 🙂

  • I’m torn. Most holidays, I buy my own gifts. My husband works a ton and just doesn’t have the time/headspace to think about gift giving. I’m fine with it because similar to you, I’m picky, so it’s a way for me to essentially splurge on something I want but might be too much money to buy any other day. I’m also trying to simplify and reduce how much we have so this is a way I can make sure what I bring into our home is something I truly love and will enjoy or use. Where I’m torn is that there are times when my husband finds an amazing gift that I would not have thought to get myself. Some of my most cherishes pieces of jewelry are ones my husband picked out. If I always bought my own gifts I would have missed out on some of my most cherished pieces. I think going forward I’ll have to do what you mentioned and just discuss ahead of time whether he wants me to buy my own gift or whether he has something in mind.

  • I love surprises at Christmas and my husband hates shopping so I usually get money. 🙁 my mother once told me to stop letting that spoil my holiday, to just buy my own present early, wrap and place under the tree as if from him so I would have something to unwrap on Christmas morning. Some times I do and sometimes I don’t because I actually hate shopping too!!

    • I should have mentioned, I usually give my husband $$ or let him pick out his own because he’s extremely hard to buy for / surprise / please !! LOL

  • This episode was so refreshing and kind of released a burden I didn’t even realize I had! As a single mom, I want to teach my kiddo to be a thoughtful gift giver and they always wants to do something nice for holidays for me, but it’s not realistic to do so and surprise me (let alone get the things I really want, ☺️). I’ve been buying my own gifts for years (single people, I highly recommend this), but I never fully embraced it until we recently started a tradition of having a “treat yo’ self” shopping session together where we browse my wish lists and pick out the best ideas together, then I make the final choice and they encourage me to go through with it (it’s sometimes hard to prioritize yourself as a single parent and hit that final “complete order” button So we always celebrate that part). It really does feel like a true treat and buying it for myself doesn’t diminish it at all, and it was nice to hear another no-shame perspective in this episode!

      • It’s certainly easier for your partner if you buy your own gifts, especially considering the overwhelming number of gift giving holidays each year (birthday, valentines, Mother’s Day, anniversary and Christmas! Ridiculous)!
        I will say though, some of the surprise gifts I’ve gotten in my life, where I have been truly shocked and felt so seen and delighted and cherished by the gift giver? Those memories, and the warm feeling of happiness that accompany them, just don’t fade.

  • I love hearing about differences in how we all give gifts. I buy all of my own gifts too but for a totally different reason. I get so much anxiety trying to pick things out for others! My husband and I agreed that we would stop picking things out for each other on holidays (all holidays- Christmas, Mother’s Day, our anniversary, birthdays) to ease up on my mental stress. Around the holidays, I don’t participate in any gift swaps, secret santa’s, etc. because then I can just celebrate the time of year and not spend time worrying that someone won’t like my gift. We all have to do what works for us! Thanks for sharing!

  • I must say surprises have lots of benefits. Until adulthood, my godmother always offered me gifts for my birthday and christmas, that I did not expect and would have never asked for. She offered me jazz CDs, art film DVDs, clothes & accessories that weren’t my initial style… And guess what? She offered me a way greater gift than filling a desire, or a need I had, she opened new doors for me and new fields of interest. My boyfriend confirms the rule as well. For example, last christmas, he offered me a board game I would have never picked it in a shop (I was a bit disappointed when I opened it but he had put a lot of thought into it and told me why he chose it for me) and after playing it with him, I just love it! So I think the presents I can offer myself, I simply buy it, I even like to ask it to be wrapped in shops and unpack it home. But for sure, when it’s time for presents from other people, I definitely ask for a surprise, other people’s choices and universe make me way richer.

  • my husband and i RARELY surprise each other with gifts. most years we talk about what we want and buy them together. occasionally we might surprise with something small on the side (like last year i got him a shirt to go with the expensive fishing gear we ordered him just because). we both hate when people waste money on us so we would much rather know going in that it’s exactly what the other wants.

  • GIRL! Our family has a custom for gift giving where you send “idea lists” typically with associated links. Sometimes there will be a general request like “herbal lotions” etc. But typically the list has the item/size/color and link directly-especially for spots my family wouldn’t normally shop. I’m not sure when it officially started, but over a decade for sure. I’m always surprised when it comes up and someone is shocked by it, but after explaining they are onboard too. It simplifies the process, and makes it so no one is wasting money and/or feeling bad about keeping a gift they truly do not want. Also, it helps when you have new people added. When we were first dating my now husband was thrilled, it took so much of the stress off gift giving. Let’s face it, no one feels good about getting a not-your-color sweater that is two sizes too small!

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