Updated on 12.26.07

The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Christmas Gift Edition

Trent Hamm

I thought it would be fun to list the gifts I received for Christmas this year (for the most part, the gifts were pretty spot-on) – as you’ll see, it had a definite food theme. I’ve been keeping this list electronically to help with thank-you notes, so the list is actually chronological in order. Feel free to mention your favorite received gifts in the comments.

A cinnamon babka
A Wii remote
The Brief History of the Dead – Kevin Brockmeier
The Executioner’s Song – Norman Mailer
What Is the What – Dave Eggers
Lego Star Wars DS
Mario Kart DS
A complete home beermaking kit and a mountain of supplies
The Omnivore’s Dilemma – Michael Pollan
$60 cash (to invest)
The Best American Essays of the Century
The Best American Essays 2006
The Best American Essays 2007
A cashmere-cotton blend sweater
A hand-cranked pasta cutter
An electric knife
Why a Son Needs a Dad – Gregory Lang
How to Cook Everything Vegetarian – Mark Bittman
How to Cook Everything – Mark Bittman (my original copy was damaged)
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice – Peter Reinhart
Puzzle Quest DS
Omron HJ-720ITC pedometer
Andrew Jackson: His Life and Times – H.W. Brands
Olympus WS-110 digital voice recorder
Homemade brownie mix
A decorative metal star perfectly matching our basement

Yes, we exchange gifts with a lot of people. And, now, some personal finance articles.

Swipe Envy I personally find credit cards to be a useful tool, but they are dangerous. I liken them to a chainsaw – some people can do amazing work with one, while other people shouldn’t be holding one (@ wise bread)

I Don’t Understand Why Gift Cards Are So Bad They aren’t bad themselves, they’re just often indicative of a thoughtless gift and also they’re easy to misplace or forget about. I like giving gift cards where I’ll go with the person when they spend it, as I did with one friend this year. That way, the outing somewhat becomes the gift. (@ my money blog)

Picking Up Pennies Rocks When I notice a penny, I’ll pick it up, but I don’t spend my time with my eyes glued to the sidewalk, either. I thought this article had some amusing “rules of penny etiquette.” (@ mighty bargain hunter)

The Four Things Children Really Want For Christmas This article made me think of my son opening up a box of Legos for Christmas. He was immediately excited, but that excitement manifested itself as he ran to me so we could open them together and start building, in his words, “BIG TOWERS!” (@ get rich slowly)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Losing a Friend Over Money When your fundamental values change, it can sometimes be hard to maintain a friendship.

Interesting Quotes From John Bogle A nice little collection of interesting thoughts. I think his thought on the subprime mess is spot-on: if you trust unreliable people, you’ll get burned. (@ all financial matters)

What’s Your Definition of Retirement? My definition is simple: the day I no longer have to do work to bring in income is retirement. That does not mean I stop working, but merely that I get complete control over what I do. (@ lazy man and money)

10 Creative Ways To Cut Up Your Credit Card I prefer heat to cutting. (@ gather little by little)

Managing Our Debt: A Review of How We Live with a Large Debt Burden This is a great summary of techniques that one couple uses to keep their head above water even when saddled with an enormous debt load. (@ make love, not debt)

The Simple Dollar Retro: Two Commenters Disagree: Why Risk Is Interesting Two people commenting on the site had vastly different views on whether it’s fine to go into debt in order to invest. I thought it brought forth some very interesting issues.

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  1. Bones says:

    I second the beer making kit. I have made two brews of lager, and I am now in the third (a dark ale). Will be ready for the half of January ;)

  2. I’m looking forward to reading Executioner’s Song, and I can personally vouch for What is the What, it’s a great book.

    No Wii games?

  3. vh says:

    Wow! What a lot of loot.

    My best gift was the excited joy my son evinced when he unwrapped the Kitchenaid stand mixer I gave him. It had been gathering dust in the back closet for several years: you need a crane to lift it onto the kitchen counter, and most everything you can do with it can be done with smaller, lighter gadgets. Since I hadn’t used it more than half a dozen times (if that many), I figured it wouldn’t be too tacky to give it to him — for sure, neither of us could afford a new one!

    Also part of the gift was spending a large part of the day with him and sharing an incredible Christmas dinner. :-)

    Hope to hear more about beer making in 2008!

  4. John says:

    So what did your grandmother get you?

  5. mbhunter says:

    Merry Christmas Trent, and thanks for the link!

    My brother-in-law did pretty well for me — three bottles of extremely hot sauce. One-half teaspoon and I was warm for about half an hour.

  6. Wesa says:

    The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a wonderful book. I have read through it twice so far and loaned it out to quite a few people. I received Marion Nestle’s Food Politics and What To Eat for Christmas this year, both great additions to the subject.

  7. Scott says:

    my wife got me a Merkur HD barber pole razor!! I mentioned it in passing and she remembered. I think that’s what I like most about it.


  8. Him says:

    Merry Christmas! We got some great wine gadgetry that we put to good use at Christmas dinner.

    Thanks for the link!

  9. Susy says:

    I also received The Bread Baker’s Apprentice along with a baker’s couche and some french yeast. Looks like it’s going to be a delicious new year!

  10. Mrs. Micah says:

    Like John, I’m looking forward to hearing what your grandmother gave you!

    My favorite presents were a digital camera from my parents (first ever!) and a South American poncho from my grandmom-in-law.

  11. InvestEveryMonth.com says:

    I didn’t get much this year because my wife and I are expecting our first child so we stayed in town to be close to the hospital, but missed our family dinners and gift exchanges. I’m still waiting for my wife to unwrap the biggest gift of our lives.

  12. Hey looks like you received some really nice and memorable gifts!

  13. Amanda says:

    The Omnivore’s Dilemma is a pretty good read. Do let us know if The Bread-baker’s Apprentice is good. I’d love to have a good bread book. And the beer kit sounds awesome. Too bad I can’t brew beer where I live (roommates). Sounds like a fun hobby.

    Cooking blog, Trent! Cooking blog!

  14. luvleftovers says:

    ” didn’t get much this year because my wife and I are expecting our first child so we stayed in town to be close to the hospital, but missed our family dinners and gift exchanges. I’m still waiting for my wife to unwrap the biggest gift of our lives.

    InvestEveryMonth.com @ 12:03 pm December 26th, 2007″

    Awww, how wonderful! Let us know when the bundle arrives!

  15. Lauren says:

    Also let us known about “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian”. I just got the original book for Christmas this year, and I’m curious to see how much the vegetarian version adds.

    Next on your list: weekly cookbook reviews. (if only!)

  16. Kate says:

    The Bread Baker’s Apprentice kicks ass! I got it through inter-library loan and knew I had to get myself a copy almost immediately.

    Do you have a half sheet baking pan? If so, try the focaccia recipe soon. It’s very, very easy, despite how intimidating it looks. Reading through that 100-page intro is worth doing too, though you may need to take it in 20-page chunks.

    You’ll love it and it’ll really improve your bread baking.

  17. Jeff says:

    The best gift I received this Christmas is a scrapbook containing words of support from my friends and relatives regarding my medical treatment.

    It was a great idea from the person that gathered all the texts from all these people and its true cost is way under 10$.

  18. Imelda says:

    How’s the Kindle? How’s the Kindle??!! Does your wife like it? I’m super-curious about this item.

    Merry Christmas!

  19. Amy Haden says:

    The best gifts that I got this year were charitable donations made in my honor. Fantastic!

  20. Trent Hamm Trent says:

    My grandmother’s gift was the hand-crafted metal star for our basement. It just perfectly matches the room.

  21. LC says:

    I got my husband a brewing book and we are going to pick out equipment together. We also got a Garmin.

  22. Sara says:

    I got a KitchenAid Stand Mixer that I’ve been begging for since I moved into my first apartment. (I’m a college student.) I hugged it a couple of times throughout the day, to the amusement of my mom and family.

  23. Elaine says:

    My best gift was also a bread book – Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. The first loaf is in the oven… can’t wait.

  24. Sarina says:

    Fav gifts? Digital camera, framed family pictures, wedding book of pictures made into a hardback book online and shipped to me, and “Big Rocks” request, Stephen Covey’s idea of putting the big rocks in life first (but actually mine is the most important people in my life with their names on the “Big Rocks” in a clear vase). Visual reminder of my top priorities.

  25. Keter says:

    Oh goodness. I quit the Christmas-gift thing years ago. Used to be that I was very poor and could only afford minimal gifts for my son, and he always got better gifts from others. Now he’s impossible to buy for so I just send cash for Christmas and birthday. My husband and I don’t exchange gifts, we just allow ourselves one splurge each in the spring and fall. His splurge was a milling machine, mine was a new digital camera (he inherited my old one) and some clothes. We recently paid off everything but the mortgage, so all spending comes out of current income.

  26. Carol says:

    My favorite gift? It was spending time with my 18 month old great niece eating chocolate cream pie. She had no interest in presents, just sitting on my lap!

  27. MVP says:

    Holy crap, you got a lot of gifts!

    My favorite was a vintage sterling silver and rhinestone necklace, circa 1910, given by DH.

    My favorite gift given (to my DH) was a giant former library copy encyclopedia of religion, which I found used on Amazon for under $10, including shipping! And it came in excellent condition. Love me some Amazon!

  28. Liz says:

    My fave gift? A mousemat with a pic of a clematis on. I grew the flower and took the photo. The mousemat will help me stay sane at work this year.


  29. Faktisk Men Sammen med undtagelser says:

    There are certainly a lot of details like that to take into consideration. That is a great point to bring up. I offer the thoughts above as general inspiration but clearly there are questions like the one you bring up where the most important thing will be working in honest good faith. I don?t know if best practices have emerged around things like that, but I am sure that your job is clearly identified as a fair game. Both boys and girls feel the impact of just a moment’s pleasure, for the rest of their lives.

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