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Posts Tagged ‘procrastination is my super power’

I am 99% sure that my Christmas shopping is complete. But there’s always that last-minute panic that I didn’t do enough, and so I am thumbing through all my last-minute ideas to see if there’s one final something I really need to get for someone on my list.

One of my go-tos for last-minute gifts is subscriptions. They tend to make for great last-minute gifts because you can order them at the — wait for it — last minute, print out a cute little confirmation email and stick it in a card, and voila! An instant gift. Or you can send them via email from your bed on Christmas morning.

Plus, I’ve tried a good number of gift subscriptions. It may be that I am not a creative gift giver, or that I have people who are VERY hard to buy for. It may be that most of my family lives far away, and so shipping is always a factor. It may be that I love the idea of receiving (and, therefore, giving) regular gifts that arrive in the mail. Whatever it is, I have tried a LOT of gift subscriptions. So I feel like I have a good handle on what’s a good value or a fun treat or not worth the price.

Here are some of my favorites – tried-and-true as well as new.

For (Mainly) Grown Ups:

Peanut Butter: My husband loves peanut butter more than pretty much anything. So I got him a peanut butter subscription from Amazing Clubs a few years ago… and we kept renewing it every six months because he loved it so much. Eventually we quit, but I would definitely renew the subscription again in a few years.

Books: My brother got me and my husband a joint Book of the Month Club membership that we loved so much we extended it for a few years. The selections each month are great and if none of the books speaks to you, you can defer your choice to the next month.

Coffee: My husband liked his Craft Coffee subscription so much, we extended it for several years.

Puzzles: I recommended this puzzle-of-the-month club in my gift guide last year. And I ended up getting my husband a subscription and he loved it so much I renewed his subscription for Father’s Day. You get access to SO many puzzles, and you can either accept the puzzle that the company suggests for you or choose your own.

Clothing: I have tried both Trunk Club and Stitch Fix, and I LOVE Stitch Fix. The boxes are smaller than Trunk Club (which means fewer items), but I like the variety. And I think the algorithm they use to determine what clothes you will like is better. Getting a subscription to Stitch Fix (personal link) would be amazing.

Socks: I got my husband a Sock Fancy subscription for his birthday. He is loving it so far – so many outside-the-box socks for him to try!

Cookies: We tried a couple of cookie subscriptions, but they were disappointing. However, that was a few years ago when these subscription services were brand new and hadn’t worked out all the kinks. So I am eyeing this cookie subscription from Cravory as an idea for some of the people on my list with a sweet tooth.

Bacon: My dad is a big fan of high quality bacon, so one year we got him a bacon subscription from Zingerman’s. It’s pricey, that’s for sure, but it’s GOOD bacon.

German Food: My husband LOVES German food, and I think he would get a kick out of this German Food Box, which offers 6-8 authentic German products in each box. It’s very expensive though – so I’m still just thinking about it.

Spirits: I got my father a Scotch tasting kit from Flaviar last year, which he enjoyed. And I think a gift subscription would be a really nice gift for someone you really love who particularly loves spirits. The year-long gift membership is very pricey ($300 as of this writing), but your giftee gets one tasting kit each quarter, four full-size bottles of premium liquor, and some other intangibles that might appeal to your giftee or might not.

For Kids:

DIY Science: If you have a kid on your wish list who loves science and/or putting things together/discovering how things work, I highly recommend the Kiwi Co subscription box. (I know, I know – this was on last year’s gift guide as well. But it’s really good!) Carla’s grandmother got her a subscription back when she was a wee “koala,” and we were able to switch to a “kiwi” when she needed something more challenging and she loves it. She’s now at the age where she can complete the activities herself, which is really cool. Less cool is that then we have Beloved Projects all around our house for eons until I angst myself into finally, stealthily throwing them away. There are crates for kids from age infant (how????) to age 11 – and even crates that appeal to people of all ages.

Books: While I have not tried it yet, this BookRoo chapter book subscription sounds great for Carla.

Magazines: Carla loved her High Five subscription until she outgrew it sometime during kindergarten. So I am thinking of subscribing her to Highlights – a magazine I remember with great fondness.

National Geographic Kids magazine would also be a good option – especially because she’s so interested in science and animals lately.

Stickers: Swistle did a post on Mrs. Grossman’s Sticker Club awhile back, and I immediately bookmarked it as an option for Carla. I can think of many kids – and grown ups! – who would love a monthly delivery of stickers!

For Families:

Gift Memberships: Some of the very best gifts we’ve ever received have been gift memberships to local museums and zoos and botanical gardens.

Sandwich Kit: I know this is a pretty specialized gift for a specific type of person, but we got this Reuben sandwich kit for my parents when they stayed with Carla earlier this year, and they loved it. It’s a HUGE amount of food, but it’s such a treat for a Reuben sandwich lover.

Bagels & Lox: Or you could buy someone a special spread of bagels and smoked salmon. Or go REALLY fancy and get this one from Zabar’s. I haven’t tried either of these, but I think it would be so fun to send someone brunch.

Escape the Crate: I haven’t tried this, but it sounds like such a good time. Every other month, you get an escape-room style game delivered to your home to play with your family and friends.

Cooking Class: My husband and I have taken a couple of cooking classes at Sur La Table, and they are really fun. I think there are even classes that younger kids can join, too.

Digital Gifts:

The following don’t come in the mail, which makes them perhaps even more appropriate as last-minute ideas:

Storyworth: I have been reading about Storyworth for years – and this might be the year I give it to my parents and in-laws. I would love to have them start recording their memories for future posterity.

MasterClass: And, for literally everyone on my list, including me, I have been thinking about a subscription to MasterClass. There are so many options here! Lessons taught by actual experts in their fields! Because it’s pricey, I am going to hold off on this for 2019… but it’s something I am really glad to know about for future gift-giving opportunities.

Audible: My husband asks for an Audible gift membership literally every year. Will this be the year someone gets him one?

Amazon Prime: Although we are definitely cutting back on our use of Amazon – for so many reasons – Prime could be an excellent gift for a lot of people on your list. It’s not just free shipping, you also get access to tons of movies and TV shows.

Disney+:This isn’t cheap, but I am really wondering if we should give my niece a year’s membership to Disney+.

A Fantastic Book: Yes, you could totally give your friend or family member the gift of endless reading options with Kindle Unlimited. But I also want to plug my friend Kristina’s excellent first novel again. It’s called Weight of Memory, and it’s a spine-tingling but surprisingly heart-wrenching book about one woman’s quest to preserve the memory of her dead brother. She is publishing the book via InkShares, which is kind of like a Kickstarter for writers. You can read sample chapters before you buy, but a digital copy is just $10 and it will not disappoint.

Gift Cards: This is the easiest digital gift there is, which makes it seem a little boring. But I don’t really know ANYONE who doesn’t like getting a gift card to one of their favorite retailers. Etsy. Amazon. Barnes & Noble. Target. iTunes. Starbucks. Your gift recipient’s favorite restaurant or donut shop. Your local independent bookstore. Your local skating rink. There are so many options that might offer digital gift cards!

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Procrastination list

Usually when I go to the trouble of writing things down on actual paper, I have an easier time of getting them done. Something about the physical act of crossing things out. Something about having a slip of paper on my table/counter/desk rather than easily-ignorable in an email or on my phone. Plus, by the time things are so dire I need to write them down in list form, I usually Mean Business. And I bullet the items and then whittle the list down until it’s merely a pile of strike-throughs.

Well, my current to-do list is resisting whittling. I have had it for… three weeks, now? And I have managed to cross off a measly THREE and 6/7 items. And one of those three is “laundry” but, while I have done an altogether excessive amount of laundry in the past few weeks, that it is DONE is a little bit of a fib, because I still have a pile of laundry on my closet floor, waiting to be put into the washer; a washer full of clean towels to put into the dryer; and a laundry bin full of clean clothing to fold and put away. SIGH.

Okay, there, I moved the towels into the dryer. Baby steps.

My To-Do list – well, I guess this is my procrastination list, now. Because all I see when I look at the list are Things I Do Not Want to Do for Completely Valid and Justifiable Reasons.

My Procrastination List stayed on my kitchen island for a very long time and I HATE having things on my kitchen island. That island is for preparing meals and eating those meals, nothing else. So I looked at it DAILY for a long time, hating it and its very presence but doing little to relieve myself of the need to have it there. And then it fell into the junk drawer (which I finally cleaned, although that was not on the list at ALL) and I saw it less often but still regularly, every time I needed some scotch tape or a pen or a rubber band. And then I used it as scratch paper to help Carla write some things. And then it disappeared for awhile until I spotted it again this morning. And now I have resurfaced it, because despite the fact that I am not DOING the things on the list, they still need to be done.

Let’s take a peek, shall we?

  1. Order contacts

Top of the list is ordering new contact lenses. I finally got a new eye doctor and went to see her, and she set me up with a trial pack of new lenses. Which I then immediately hated. She’d given me her business card and had told me to call the number listed to order my contacts, after I’d tried them. She didn’t mention what to do if I tried them and hated them, and I didn’t ask; we both assumed I would love them, I guess. Anyway, the card lists an “appointment scheduling” phone number and a “contact lens ordering” number. Which do I call??? I don’t need an appointment, but maybe if I called that number I could leave a message for the doctor, asking if she could get me a sample of a different kind of contact? But maybe I should call the contact line instead, because they are accustomed to dealing with the specific item I am in need of, and should be best positioned to help? But then again, what if the contact line people are equipped to put in an order only, and do nothing else? ARGH! So here I sit, dithering and refusing to call. Fortunately, I have a nice stockpile of the OLD contact lenses I have and hate, so I’m all set as far as seeing goes.

2, 4, & 13. Buy & change air filter, put up rack in laundry room, grill???

(I apologize sincerely for the lack of parallelism in the header of this list item. Especially because “grill” is also a verb. It’s very confusing. But I wanted to group them together for reasons that will soon become clear.)

Some of the things on this list are probably ludicrous; they’ve been needing doing for so long, it was simply some fit of hyper-industriousness that caused me to put them on the list in the first place. That’s the main problem with to-do lists in general, right? You usually don’t have as much of an issue with taking care of the URGENT stuff. It’s really the stuff that can languish for a while that needs explicit calling out. I mean, the little sticker on our air filter says we last changed in 2013, so clearly a few more months won’t hurt. (REALLY?!?! 2013?!?! The current air filter is as old as my KINDERGARTENER? That is disgusting. I don’t believe it, for one thing; I’d say that we simply didn’t change the sticker the last time we changed it, because that totally sounds like an oversight we would make. But how do I know for sure? The sticker says, very plainly, in my husband’s writing, that we changed it in 2013.) The laundry rack thing is similarly old and not particularly urgent; we got a new washer and dryer earlier this summer and had to remove the little shelf that was sitting on the floor in the laundry room, so we bought a hanging rack to replace it. We have not hung the rack yet, and I’m beginning to suspect we may never do so. Ditto the grill, which has been broken since LAST FALL and swells me up with such rage that I will have to write about it later.

  1. Halloween costumes

This item fills me with dread. We have, for the first time ever, been invited to a Halloween party and are expected to dress up. My husband does not want to dress up. But I don’t want to show up and be the only ones without a costume. So I have been spinning in terrified circles for WEEKS trying to come up with The Perfect No-Effort Costume that will allow us to fit in no matter what. The party is THIS WEEKEND so the time for wheel spinning has come to an end and I still have nothing to show for it. (I realize that I have shifted metaphors somewhere along the way but I am too panicked to fix it.)

  1. Mail boxes

I have had boxes sitting in my office for MONTHS that need to go to various people. But they aren’t technically urgent – they aren’t birthday gifts or anything, they aren’t time sensitive; it’s more along the lines of me saying I would send you a T-shirt you liked and then not doing it – so there they sit. And, of course, the longer they sit, the more I fret about them; are the intended recipients annoyed that it’s taking so long? Will they think poorly of me once they finally, presumably, receive them? Have they already written me off as a lost cause and not worthy of speaking to? It’s so bad that I haven’t even SPOKEN to one recipient in months because I am so embarrassed it is taking me so long to mail her this silly item. Two weeks ago, I moved one of the boxes into the kitchen, near the door, to help move it on to the post office more quickly. That has not worked but has increased my general dissatisfaction with a) my own lack of follow-through and b) the cluttered state of my kitchen.

This also reminds me that I need to mail a housewarming gift to a friend who bought her first house. In July. SIGH. Why am I like this?????

  1. Set up cooking class + sitter

We received – as a gift for our anniversary (in DECEMBER) (of 2017 I wish I could all-caps numbers) – a gift certificate to take a cooking class at Sur la Table. We’ve done one of those classes before and it was great fun; I have no idea why we haven’t scheduled this one yet. (Well, I have some idea; it’s the same reason that I only finally this past April used a pedicure gift certificate that I got as a baby shower gift in 2013.) Anyway, I have at the very least chosen the class we want to attend and texted the babysitter and am now waiting anxiously for her to respond; perhaps she doesn’t know how gratifying it would be to cross another item off this list or she would have gotten back to me more quickly.

  1. Presents for bdays

Carla has been invited to a LOT of Classmate Birthday Parties this fall. So I have been buying gifts left and right. I am down to needing ONE gift (of the upcoming birthdays I know about; but we’re into December already for three of the kids, so I feel pretty safe) and I already have that child’s card, so I feel good about the status of this item.

  1. Cards

For the aforementioned children, plus my brother. DONE.

  1. Fill out details for TB

This is a detailed financial overview for a prospective financial advisor. It asks a bunch of questions about retirement and money fears that either a) I’ve never thought about with any purpose or b) send me into a frenzy of “life is short and then it ends” pessimism. So I’ve been avoiding it. Plus, it requires information from me and my husband, so we have to find simultaneous time to go through it together.

  1. Call about ice maker

Our refrigerator’s ice maker has been on the fritz for several years, and finally, over the summer, gave up producing anything besides a horrific grinding noise. So I have to figure out how to get it fixed. There’s nothing in the manual about how to fix it. My best bet is to call the appliance store where we bought it and see if they know who I can call to look at it. But that’s a guaranteed TWO phone calls about something I don’t know how to describe (aside from “horrific grinding” and “no ice”). So it remains on the list.

  1. Air filter cleaning?

By the way, this should say “air DUCT cleaning” but whatever. Doesn’t matter as long as I know what it means, right? After the horrifying discovery that we may not have replaced our furnace air filter in five years, I started feeling like maybe we should do MORE to purify the air we breathe. I happened to stop at a light behind a truck that was advertising air duct cleaning, which got me thinking that maybe we should do that. (It’s a service I didn’t know existed.) I went so far as to research and email three different companies that offer this service and get estimates from two of them via the phone. But I have not yet scheduled anything.

  1. Laundry

Well. We know where this stands. It’s an ongoing thing. It only made the list because it had gotten out of control. Now it is back to manageable status so I guess crossing it off is the right thing to do.

  1. New sneakers

I need to get new sneakers for Carla. But I hate buying shoes for her, because a) they are expensive, b) they will need replacing in about five minutes, and c) she will insist she likes a pair of shoes… and then never wear them. And I don’t know about you, but getting her out the door and to school on time is already so fraught that I am not going to add “forcing her to wear shoes she doesn’t want to wear” to the mix. No thank you. But now we’re getting to the point where she needs shoes for gym and the shoes I bought her in May are too tight and I can’t find any good sales and BLARGH. I just need to bite the bullet and get her ANY PAIR, but I keep looking online and then going back through a, b, and c, and not buying anything.

  1. Teacher appreciation

The PTA asked parents to volunteer to bring snacks for Teacher Appreciation week; I signed up and already bought the item I signed up for AND already delivered it to the school. BOO YA ending on a high note.

 

Okay, the whole point of this post is to shame myself into tackling SOMETHING. What shall it be? What… shall it be?

UPDATE: Per the magic of posting one’s failings on the Internet, I did, in fact, pursue a few of these items.

1. I called the place where we got our refrigerator and asked for a recommendation for an appliance repair person. However, when I subsequently googled the appliance repair company they suggested, I noticed they have TERRIBLE reviews. So I think I need to either a) find my own appliance repair company or b) call the fridge place back and ask for an alternate recommendation. So I am back at square one with this one.

2. I called the appointment-making line for my eye doctor and explained to the receptionist what I needed. I apologized profusely for calling her, when I KNEW she was an appointment making person, and she was very nice about it but also very clear that I had called the wrong number. She connected me to someone with whom I left a message for my eye doctor; whoever THAT was said I might need to come in and get refitted for contact lenses which fills me with despair. I JUST had an appointment, and I don’t see why those measurements would have suddenly disappeared just because I don’t like the brand of lenses she had me try. Can’t she just… give me another type of lenses to try? Without having to make a separate appointment and come in for what surely will NOT be covered by insurance? But I suppose we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

3. I put my brother’s birthday card in the mail. That wasn’t one of the packages I mentioned above, but it’s something.

4. I am taking Carla to a department store TODAY after school to fit her for new shoes, and then if they aren’t horrendously expensive, I will buy some right then and there.

Man, this was a LOT of work and I don’t think I can even cross a SINGLE THING off of my list. BLARGH.

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