Home and Garden

The Finest Funds Reward Is Two Small Presents That Go Collectively


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It can be easy to feel like you have to spend a lot of money showing someone that you care. Whether you’re buying a one-time gift to celebrate someone’s birthday or promotion, or making your list, double-checking it, and crossing out every single person you know for the holidays, we’re trained to make that ever The more expensive your gift is, the more you care.

We know that is not true. Even so, it can be easy to doubt those little heartfelt gifts that you put a lot of care into, simply because it feels like everyone else is not working on your wavelength.

For years I felt that my budget gifts weren’t good enough or nice enough, but as a young person starting my career in New York City, I often felt like I just couldn’t afford to show it interests me more than I’ve already done. However, my attitude changed on a December morning just before the Christmas break: when I got to work I noticed a small votive candle and a neat row of matches on my desk. The mark was from my boss’s boss, and while I didn’t know her personally, the thoughtful pairing added up to the most memorable gift I had received that year.

Whenever I have the task of finding a gift for someone, be it on a budget or because I don’t know them well, I think of this candle and the matchbox and apply the same principle. I call it the 50/50 rule: Aim to spend half of my gift budget on two small, complementary things.

Why 50/50? Because most of the time you spend 50 percent of your money on each item. The math doesn’t always add up: sometimes you spend more than half your budget on one item of your gift, or you can get half of your money for less and free the rest of your money on the other piece.

In practice, this rule is pretty simple and works for almost every budget. It could look like this:

As long as you pair the gifts so that they theoretically work together, you’re golden – and your gift recipient will likely remember the thought you put into pairing for the years to come.

You Cerón

Lifestyle editor

Ella Cerón is the Lifestyle Editor of Apartment Therapy and explains how to live your best life in the house you made yourself. She lives in New York with two black cats (and no, it’s not a bit).


Robert Dunfee