Christmas Dilemma: One expensive gift or multiple inexpensive gifts

By glblguy

Christmas Dilemma
Photo by: pmarkham

I went Christmas shopping yesterday for my wife. I had a list of items she had pointed out to me over the past few months or so that I had written down along with a few ideas of my own. She loves photography and I wanted to get her something for her camera. A year or so ago, I gave her a 70-300mm Canon image stabilizing lens. For those of you not into photography, its a really nice telephoto lens. The lens really upped the anti on the quality of her pictures. But being a telephoto lens, it only made a difference when she was taking pictures of something relatively far away. Canon now makes a 28mm-135mm image stabilizing lens that I wanted to get for her. This would give her high quality lenses for the full focal range.

I headed over to Best Buy to check on the recent price: $584.99…Whoa Nelly! We didn’t have a specific spending limit this year and we had the Christmas money to pay for it, but it just seemed high. I knew if I purchased this lens for her, it would be the only thing I would buy. I really wanted to get her that lens, but that would mean I wouldn’t be able to purchase all of the other little things she wanted that I also thought she would enjoy.

Hence the dilemma: Purchase one big gift for her or get her the lots of the little things she wanted? It was a tough decision for me. I walked around Best Buy for a good hour trying to decide what to do. What would you have done?

In the end, I walked out of Best Buy empty handed. I decided to not buy the lens for a few reasons:

I wanted to research the lens online and see if Best Buy’s price was reasonable or not. Turns out it wasn’t even close. Amazon has the same lens for $409.95, more than $175.00 less. Even at $409.95, that’s still a lot. Always research prices online before buying something relatively expensive.

I didn’t think she would get $585 dollars of value out of the lens over the one she has. Her pictures are already incredibly good, and while the lens would have added to that, I really didn’t think it would add enough to justify the $585.00 cost.

I wanted to enjoy the experience of watching her open multiple gifts. Maybe I am being a little selfish, but I really enjoy watching her open her gifts. I like seeing the surprise on her face and the expectation while she is opening them. If I purchased only the lens for her, I would only get to see that once.

She purchased multiple gifts for me. I didn’t ask for anything big this year. Ok, that’s not true, I did ask for a BMW 135i. But I know it won’t fit in any of the boxes she has under the tree for me and it’s way beyond our Christmas fund. I didn’t want to trade gifts with her and me only having one to give her and her having multiples to give me. That just seemed to take away from the joy of giving. We open our Christmas gifts to each other after our children go to bed on Christmas eve. This is our special Christmas time together and I didn’t want to steal from that with a single gift.

I still needed to purchase gifts to her from our children. If you are fairly new here on Gather Little by Little, I have 6 children (5 boys and a girl). If I purchased the lens from me, I still needed to purchase 6 additional gifts from our children for her. I would have been well over $600.00 for her gifts in total. This would put me way beyond what I had planned and honestly would blow our Christmas fund and bite into our December budget.

While I still having some shopping remaining, as I began purchasing the other smaller gifts on her list yesterday, I started to feel better and better about my decision. I actually enjoyed running around to the various places and even coming up with things she won’t expect me to get for her.

It really emphasized to me that the spirit of giving isn’t always about the size or amount of the gift, it’s about the thought and care that goes into the gifts given coupled with the joy of actually giving the gifts. Acts 20:35 – “… remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ”

I can’t wait until Christmas Eve to give her the gifts I picked out for her. The best part is she’ll have multiple items to open and enjoy and I’ll have spent far less than $585.00.

Have you been faced with a similar situation? What did you do? How do you go about matching up the amounts you and your spouse spend for each other? Do you sent limits?

18 Responses (including trackbacks) to “Christmas Dilemma: One expensive gift or multiple inexpensive gifts”

  1. Matt Says:

    Great post and site. I love giving many gifts to my wife. It is fun for me to go shopping and get as many cool things that I know she will like for the limit we set. I came in under the limit by $.60 but then I got her one more gift that put me over. BUT, I knew she went over the limit. I just wrote an article about buying Christmas presents for “that special someone.” It kind of fits in with your post. Have a wonderful day and God bless…

    Again, thanks for the good post…

  2. Amanda D Says:

    Hmm…I guess you know your wife better than us, so that’s the right answer for you and your family. As a photo junkie too, I had several lenses on my list this year and would *LOVE* to have one. If she really enjoys taking photos & photography, then that lens would have been a good investment. Is it $400 better than the current lens she has in that zoom range? Maybe, but probably not. Would she still use it a ton? Probably and she could probably sell her old lens in that range and recover some of the $$. Me personally, I’d rather have the 1 thing I’m asking for and really want, rather than a more smaller items that I am less interested in. I understand your wife could be different and you have to consider the children’s gifts too. I respect your decision, but I thought I’d chime in with my opinion too.

  3. glblguy Says:

    Hi Matt, welcome to Gather Little by Little! Thanks for the kind words. You’re most welcome. Have a Merry Christmas!

  4. glblguy Says:

    Hi Amanda – Good point, I think it really is personal preference. I know she would rather get lots of little things that I put a great deal of thought into than just one big easy thing. Also, very good point about selling the old lens, which would recoup some of the cost. Thanks for sharing you opinion, I appreciate it.

  5. Lynnae @ Says:

    My husband and I usually get one gift for each other. Sometimes it’s big, sometimes small, depending on our situation this year.

    We’re still at the point where I’d stress about money if we spent a lot of money on many gifts. I’m sure I’ll feel differently in a couple of years when we’re out of debt and better off financially. But this works for us now.

    It sounds like you made a good decision regarding gifts for your wife.

  6. plonkee Says:

    You know, when it’s the thought that counts, it really is the amount of thought that you put into it. On that basis, your wife should be made up with her gifts.

  7. Patrick Says:

    Multiple gifts are fun… but so is giving something you know they will cherish! Tough dilemma, but I think you chose well. ;)

  8. glblguy Says:

    Lynnae – That is what we SHOULD do.

  9. glblguy Says:

    @plonkee – I hope so. Not sure why, but I always seem to struggle with what to get her. She wants so little, so it makes it tough.

  10. glblguy Says:

    @patrick – It really was. She’s awesome, so she would happy either way.

  11. Shay Says:

    My husband had issues with my present this year….what is it I wanted that he had issues with? All I wanted this year is a CD nothing more nothing more expensive…just this one CD that I deperatley wanted. He was flabbagasted that I wanted so Little at this time of year…I could of asked him for expensive lenses for my camera but considering I got the camera for a wedding anneversiary present this year (second hand Nikon D50) for $500 I did’t want for anything else I had my dream camera which I had been saving for..I am more then happy with anything that I am given this year…it is blogs like this has made me how rich I am in my life and not in money sense. Thank you

  12. glblguy Says:

    Hi Shay, D50 is a VERY nice camera and $500 is a great deal. Thanks for the wonderful comment and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

  13. Justin Says:

    Personally, I prefer getting one big or a couple medium big things I really want and will get use out of than many many small dust collectors. My wife got me a nice Seiko watch that I had had my eye on, and a DVD. I am perfectly happy with that and know the Seiko will be much more reliable than the Timex that would never keep time (the crown comes out so the hands stop). I got her several items that she likes.

  14. glblguy Says:

    Justin, I’m like you as most of things I want are fairly big anyway. Seiko makes a good watch. I haven’t worn one in years. Started carrying a pager and it has a clock and now my cell does too, so I don’t wear one. When I did though, they were always Seiko. Hope you had a great holiday!