On this segment of a very special Rule Breaker Investing podcast, Motley Fool co-founder David Gardner -- having already gotten the best advice he could from the Foolish men -- has brought in an even better dream team of women to guide him in his holiday gift choices: Cheryl Palting, director of Foolish impressions; Lysha Fuentes, a Motley Fool events and ops coordinator; and Melissa Malinowski, a global project manager for Motley Fool Global. They cover a ton of useful ideas -- their favorite ways to acquire -- and remember -- gift ideas, their giving season philosophies, their favorite types of gifts, what not to overspend on, and more. Plus, some very specific advice for the guys on what to get the women in their lives.
A full transcript follows the video.
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This video was recorded on Dec. 13, 2017.
David Gardner: It's my delight to welcome the Foolish Women's Gift-Giving Panel to this podcast. Maybe this should be an annual tradition. We'll find out later from our listeners whether they valued our advice. I'm really delighted to be joined by Cheryl Palting, who is our director of Foolish impressions. Lysha Fuentes. And Lysha, you're an events and ops coordinator here at The Motley Fool. And finally, Melissa Malinowski, and Melissa, you are a global project manager for Motley Fool Global. I like the redundancy.
But each of you, beyond your official-seeming job titles here at The Motley Fool, is a wonderful Foolish friend and somebody who is called out by her peers as someone who's good at gift-giving. So I just sent the word out. I was like, "Who's good in this office...?" And so those were our men and these are our women, and it's a delight.
And since I introduced you in this order, Cheryl, let me start with you. Help us out here. Again, I am somebody who is listening to this podcast. Normally we're talking stocks, but since it's the giving time of year, I'm looking for a couple of insights. Maybe some way to be more creative or more efficient. Cheryl, give us one or two tips about gift-giving.
Cheryl Palting: Yes. Here at The Motley Fool we help the world invest better, and sometimes people can think we focus a lot on money, but I think gift-giving doesn't necessarily have to be expensive. For the budget-conscious friends or family members in your life, I encourage people to get really creative and think about your own talents, whether that's an ability to create a card from scratch and write a handwritten note. Whether you can sing really well, or dance really well. I've had friends who say, "I'm on a budget this year. I'm not doing presents or material gifts, so don't get me anything."
But at the end of the day we ended up just planning a listening party to all of our favorite songs, so everyone brought their own Spotify playlist of all of the songs that either they really love, or they have memories associated with other people in the group, and we just had fun listening to songs and reminiscing about the previous year.
Gardner: And something that everybody will remember. More than one year later.
Palting: And it was free. I mean, even if you don't pay for Spotify on the premium side, you can still access the songs. And I am not a Spotify shareholder, but I feel like I should be.
Gardner: And you can't be quite yet, although in 2018 if you're looking for a gift, Cheryl, I could give you the gift of the possible Spotify IPO. Now, I'm not going to necessarily give you a share...
Palting: Hey, now...
Gardner: Because I'm not sure how much it would be, and I'm not sure Spotify is going to be a great investment. We'll see. Pandora, one of my stock picks, has not been a great investment, but there's a little bit on Spotify. So that's a wonderful starting thought. Do you have a second complementary thought or a different thought?
Palting: Yes. So, going back to this group of friends idea, where you just have a lot of people that you have to give gifts to. It can get expensive and it can take a lot of time. And a lot of times, friends don't want to make those decisions, or they're having trouble getting something. I mean, it's pretty common to hear someone ask another person, "What do I get this person? I have to get them a gift."
For me, you don't have to. I think if you're open and honest with your big group of friends, or even a smaller group of friends, and say, "Hey, guys. Let's just hang out together. Let's plan something." If everyone is a fan of baking, or eating baked goods, everyone gets together for one night and bakes something.
Gardner: Or eat baked goods.
Palting: Yes. And this can be your gift. There's so much pressure to buy something in this day and age, but I think there's a lot of value in just spending time with people and being open, knowing that sometimes money isn't necessarily the thing you have to spend, but it's just time.
Gardner: Awesome. Thank you, Cheryl. Lysha?
Lysha Fuentes: Yes, I have two tips I will go over. Based off what Cheryl said inspired another one, so we'll see what happens. The first one is I'm always a fan of taking notes of things that I hear as the year goes on. My husband is really good at this as well. For example, I think it was a year or so, ago, Lady Gaga performed at the Super Bowl. I used to dance and I'm a big fan of good performers like Bruno Mars. Lady Gaga is also one. So I was rocking out in front of the TV. A few months later for my birthday he bought me Lady Gaga tickets. Not once did I ever say I want to see her in concert, but he made note that I was a fan of her performance.
Similarly, I watch cook shows with my little sister who loves to cook. I can't remember who she was watching one time, but she was like, "Oh, I really want a cast-iron skillet, so I can make that." Never put it on her list, but this year I got her a cast-iron skillet because I made note of it.
Now, it does take a little bit more work. You do have to take out your smartphone. Maybe make a little note section in your phone and say, "OK, this is what so-and-so said." But it definitely delivers that wow factor, because when they forget about that gift and you bring it back, not only are they excited about it, but it does show that you listened to them and you took in what they were saying.
Gardner: I love it.
Fuentes: My next tip is my daughter was born almost two years ago, and having a child I realized you get so much junk. And they might love it for two seconds, but my tip is everything is cuter when it's small and fluffy, yes, but this is a phenomenal phase in their life because they can get two things and be amazed by it or a hundred things and be amazed by it. They don't know the difference between the numbers, so I would say, if I'm blunt, be cheap these few years while you can. While they don't know what they're going to get, give them a few things. They don't need the name brands. Just get them something that they can enjoy and maybe something that's actually practical. I always ask for things that help with their development. Something that's a fun toy, but actually helps them grow as well. Again, you don't need the stuffed animals for your little Tommy who's super cute but will only play with it for maybe two weeks.
Gardner: Especially if he has 12 others, right? That's part of it.
Fuentes: Absolutely. And it causes more clutter in your home.
Gardner: Lysha, you brought your two. You also said Cheryl inspired you.
Fuentes: She did. She mentioned the idea of giving time, and something that I struggle with every year is I have a large family, plus now that I'm married, my husband has a large family. My gift-giving list is getting really large and getting really expensive. One thing my family did one year was rather than buying each other gifts, we all paid for ourselves to go on a family trip. And that was a really fun experience. So if you don't want to go through a list of 12 people, maybe you all just have a fun experience together instead.
Gardner: Outstanding. Thank you Lysha! And thank you, Cheryl! Melissa, a couple of tough acts to follow. What have you got?
Melissa Malinowski: Well, mine completely goes in line with both of yours, actually. No. 1, I really believe that time is your most valuable asset, so I like to think about how people spend their time that brings them long-term joy. Then, alternatively, how do you like to spend time with them?
As a gift for my mom one year, I bought us tickets to go to the International Hot Air Balloon Festival in Albuquerque, N.M.
Gardner: Wow! That appeals to the whimsical fool in me. That sounds awesome!
Malinowski: Yeah. It was on my mom's bucket list to go on a hot air balloon. We love New Mexico, and so we just had an entire week together. It was wonderful, because she lives halfway across the country, so I don't get that kind of time with her as much anymore. So it was really meaningful to both of us and I will never forget that. So that's something I definitely believe in.
And it's also not just people's hobbies, but how they're actually spending their time. Some people will say they're golfers, but are they actually spending their time golfing, because if not, then...?
Gardner: Don't buy them a new set of clubs.
Malinowski: Exactly. So my second bucket, I guess, is how do you feel about stuff? People have very specific relationships with the stuff around them. Either it causes a lot of anxiety or it's something that they feel that they need to surround themselves with.
So I like to think about people in that way. So if you walk into someone's house and it's super modern and pristine, and there's not very many things in there, they're probably very selective about the items that are brought into their home. So those people I definitely go for experiences. My brother is one of those people, so I got him a kayaking on the Chicago River one-hour tour. This year he's going on his honeymoon, so I'm going to...
Gardner: No spoilers!
Malinowski: Hopefully he's not listening.
Gardner: Nobody listens to this podcast.
Malinowski: He's going to Peru for his honeymoon, so I'm going to buy him a wallet, but I'm going to get currency from Peru to put in it. It's one of those annoying things when you travel to have to get currency. So you get on the ground and you can already do that. Skip that exchange portion of your trip.
Gardner: Awesome. I'm never exactly sure of the numbers behind this podcast. Rick can nod or not across the glass here. I think we have more guys listening to Rule Breaker Investing than gals -- I think -- so more men listeners. With the guys in mind, briefly, they're trying to think about what would my girlfriend, sister, wife really want. Or they think differently than I do, maybe. Can you help the guys out there? Just think about the gift that you would really like to receive personally. You may have already put it out there with your ideas. Think about receiving something from any kind of guy in your life. What do they need to know?
Fuentes: I can take a stab at it. I think it really depends on what type of person this gentleman is buying for. Is this person really materialistic? In that case they might want a nice, new purse rather than something practical. I'm definitely more on the practical side and for some reason my husband won't take that for an answer. When I say I want space storage bags, I am genuinely excited. I don't wear a lot heels. Again, I'm more practical. If I'm going to wear them once a year, I'd rather buy them for my sister. He wants to buy me a nice pair, but I will not be happy. So really listen to what the woman in your life...
Gardner: That is strong!
Fuentes: ... the woman in your life actually wants.
Gardner: I think I'm making that mistake, Lysha, because you feel like you want to do something special, but that takes you out of the realm of practical, sometimes, and maybe by just listening and learning, she really did want something practical.
Fuentes: Yes, at least that's my case.
Palting: For me it's literally anything on my plate that is considered emotional labor. Sometimes I want a house-cleaning company. It's not that I just want the house clean. I want someone to go and actually get the quotes, and figure it out, and schedule it, and take the whole onus of it off. Hands down, taking things off my plate rather than getting actual things.
Palting: Have the men considered gifting a subscription to Rule Breakers? But in all honesty...
Gardner: That's the perfect way to end this panel. I don't want to end it, but wow!
Palting: Women are better investors, and I think we should embrace that. Kind of joke gift, kind of not, but I think involving your significant other, or your close friend, or your close female family member in what you're passionate about, whether that be investing, or kayaking, or traveling; I think that is above and beyond anything you could buy for them, because you're wanting to share part of your life with them.
Malinowski: I love that. One of my favorite gifts that my husband got me was I asked for a video game that the two of us could play together.
Gardner: Now Melissa, I understand you're already married, but if you'd ever like to be married to somebody else as well, that would be awesome.
Malinowski: Not quite, not yet. But then we got through the whole video game and now there's other iterations of it, so every once in a while we'll get the new version and play again, because he gets into his niche. Neesh.
Gardner: Either one works for me.
Fuentes: I think that's the thing. Finding things that you can enjoy together. Absolutely.
Malinowski: Yes. And listening.
Fuentes: For sure.
Gardner: Well, that was a delight. And Cheryl, I want to briefly call you out, because I had the fun of working some with our summer interns at The Motley Fool in 2017 and you were their leader. And we all played a game together, because we're developing a mobile app to gamify the stock market a little bit for younger people, so they were play-testing. And at the end of that few weeks, where we all played together, you played as well. You did very well.
Palting: Thank you.
Gardner: But we decided we wanted to have something that was a quick gift for everybody to thank them for participating. And I think we mentioned this to you, Cheryl. Let's say it was on a Wednesday, and we were all having our final gathering on a Thursday. Could you just briefly describe what you did in those 24 hours?
Palting: Yes. It was an idea that came from you guys. I was merely the implementer of said idea.
Gardner: Oh, if you say so, but keep going.
Palting: Going back to my first tip -- I think it was my first tip -- about getting creative, especially if you're talking to budget-conscious families and friends, I created these paper plate awards. Just grabbed some markers and wrote awards out for everyone. Collaborated with David and the team working on the new project on what the awards would be, but I made them fun.
Gardner: To just say paper plates may not really fully convey. There were lots of different colors. I think some glitter. They were each an unique and individual piece of art that you had created in the 24 hours before that. So, maybe it does tap right back into that first tip you gave, Cheryl, but I wanted to call you out for that.
Palting: Oh, thank you!
Gardner: I still have my plate.
Malinowski: I would also, maybe, mention the "sunshine jars."
Palting: So, another free, creative gift that a lot of people really enjoyed, here, in the office were these sunshine jars, or happiness jars, as other companies have come to call them. You just get nice notes and cards from people around the office. It could be one sentence to an entire paragraph. You print them out and put them all in a jar using different colored papers. It's really pretty, but anyone can go back into their jar and look at what people wrote about them.
Malinowski: I think that would be great for a family to do for each member of the family.
Palting: Just leave the jars out and at your own convenience put nice things.
Gardner: All right, I'm not going to say that you outperformed the Foolish Men's Gift-Giving Panel. I'm not going to say that.
Palting: You can say that, David.
Malinowski: But it's implied. It's OK.
Gardner: It wasn't supposed to be competitive, but great job, team! Cheryl, Lysha, Melissa. Thank you very much. Fool on!