2021-12-22

5 minute read

Advice given on December 22, 2021.

‘tis already the season?

Dear Jay,

I can’t believe 2021 is already winding down. I’ve really lost track of time this year, and now I find myself in a difficult situation. It is less than a week from Christmas and I’ve yet to purchase any gifts for my loved ones! What should I do? How can I possibly get them all gifts in such a short time?

Sincerely,

Holi-dazed

Holi-dazed,

You’ve done it this time eh? Just kidding! It is a bit of a sticky situation, but fear-not, for I have a few ideas. This year in particular makes late gift buying a bit challenging as supply chain issues due to the pandemic have caused inventory shortages in-stores and delayed deliveries of packages ordered online. If you have the time, the simplest solution might be to take a day and visit a mall or outdoor shopping center where there are just a bunch of stores and shop until you are able to find something for every person on your list. If you’re a bit more pressed for time, then I think you need to explore more out-of-the-box ideas.

I think the critical aspects of gift purchasing for a group of people with different interests within a short time frame is to select something generic enough that it can be purchased for most if not all members of the group, and to pick something that is non-physical. Meaning the gift should not be something you need to physically obtain or make; we live in a digital age, so purchasing a digital gift should be possible. To that end, my controversial solution to this problem is to leverage a new and controversial technology: the blockchain. Now I know this is an incredibly unpopular idea in some circles, but I think for this particular scenario the comical maxim: “Bitcoin fixes this,” may actually be appropriate.

Before I fully flesh out this idea, I would like to take you, my dear reader, back a few decades. Once upon a time, it was not unheard of for children to be gifted physical stock shares or bond certificates on special occasions. Often, these were gifts from an elder family member or friend, with the intention of fostering good saving and investing habits.

In the tail-end of 2021, the vast majority of the population is aware of the existence of Bitcoin and blockchain technology, even if they do not have a personal stake in this technology themselves. While there is no doubt the entire cryptocurrency space is rife with speculation, participation in crypto by financial institutions lends some credence to the notion that crypto is here to stay in some shape or form. Therefore, this is the perfect time to gift members of your family a small chunk of cryptocurrency! This gift represents an opportunity for them to have some involvement in this new burgeoning financial system; after all, nobody wants to be left behind. From the practical gift-giving vantage point, gifting crypto is relatively fast as it happens digitally. You can opt to informally give less tech-savvy gift recipients an “IOU” of sorts and hold their crypto for them, while you can create a “paper wallet” (quickly and for free) for the techie members of your family (or offer to send them their gifts directly if they already hold crypto). Given the wide variety of cryptocurrencies available at this time, you can customize the gift to suit each individual. For the traditionalist in the family you could gift them a more established coin such as Bitcoin or Ethereum. Sports fans or artists could receive an NFT. While environmentalists might be interested in the newer, greener, projects such as Algorand which aim to be carbon-neutral.

As a new technology, this gift will flip the older stock/bond gifting model on its head as this does not promote traditional methods of saving and investing, but instead offers each recipient a chance to dip their toes into the wild west that is the cryptocurrency landscape. More importantly, this gift is non-physical, and can be procured faster than a regular physical present, making it a feasible option for one who is tight on time.

Happy Holidays,

Jay

Traveling Aspirations

Dear Jay,

I am in a relationship with a wonderful person, but we have a problem we can’t seem to figure out: we’re both terrible planners. I tend to get stressed out by the overwhelming possibilities, and she tends to wait too long before making plans. And we’re both fairly preoccupied with work-related things, so we don’t mull things over well. The result is that we desperately need a vacation but can’t seem to pick anything because no one really wants to do the planning legwork. How can we make progress on this and finally get out of town?

-Stuck at home

Stuck,

Well as far as relationship problems go, this seems to be a pretty tame one, so congratulations to you and your partner. Besides adopting some sort of strict timeline for planning a trip and assigning tasks (which does not sound fun), I think I have some interesting alternative ideas.

For a quick, spur of the moment weekend-getaway, the trip could be planned on Friday night itself. Just pull up a map and find a local bed and breakfast within a few hours drive, call them up to make a reservation for the next day, and drive over Saturday morning. Sometimes a quick and simple trip with no planning can be an enjoyable experience; it also gets you out of your regular routine!

If you’re seeking a trip further away for a longer time, I think your best bet is to go through a travel agency of some kind. Don’t stress! You don’t actually need to think about all of the possible destinations, there are a number of companies that offer a surprise destination package. I believe the gist of these packages is that you outline your dates of travel, budget, and interests. Then the agency mails you a package containing the plane tickets and a full itinerary for your trip. No planning required on your end! The downside to this strategy is that I’m sure there is a premium you have to pay to get someone else to plan your trip, but in exchange you will be spared what sounds like a considerable amount of time and stress.

Have a good vacation,

Jay