December 9, 2018

All I Want for Christmas

“The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value.”

I don’t usually pay attention to Fox News, but this article caught my eye. In case you don’t read it, here are some interesting statistics:

* The average American will spend $1,250 this holiday season on gifts, travel, and entertainment.
* Twenty-eight percent of shoppers are entering the holiday season still paying off debt from last year’s gift shopping.
* Over fifty percent will overspend their holiday budget or not set one at all.
* Consumers who go into debt over the season will take on an average of $1,054 in new debt.
*Over half of us will receive unwanted gifts this year.
*Eighteen percent of gifts are never used by the person who receives them and four percent are immediately thrown into the trash.

Jumpins, Josephine, what are we doing?!

I read another article (can’t find it now) saying that within six months, most Christmas presents have been broken, sold in a yard sale, re-gifted, put in storage, given away or thrown out.

This is the reason I no longer buy many Christmas presents, and the ones I do are usually practical (e.g., gas cards), edible/drinkable, or experience-related (e.g., gift certificate for a pedicure). My gift list is short: a limited number of family members and a couple of donations to families in need. I no longer expect to be given Christmas presents but I’ll never turn one down. The main thing is that I don’t need more stuff.

With this in mind, I’ve prepared a list of things that I think make great gifts and won’t break the bank. In fact, some of these things will cost you almost nothing! I haven’t included anything on this list that I wouldn’t be happy to receive myself.

Gift certificates – I know a lot of people think gift certificates are a cop-out and that the giver didn’t put much thought into their purchase. I beg to differ. I LOVE gift certificates, and I’m thankful that the giver thought enough to let me pick out something that I’ll actually use. My favourite gift in the whole world is a gift certificate to the bookstore. I’ve just been given the experience of an hour to browse the shelves and pick out a book I really want. How great is that?! Gift certificates for beauty treatments (facials, pedicures and so forth) or restaurants are a very strong second in my books. Keep in mind that if you buy a gift certificate for someone based on her interests or hobbies, you really can’t go wrong.

Food and drink – Who doesn’t love a tin of chocolate chip cookies or a few loaves of homemade bread to put in the freezer? How about a coupon that can be cashed in for a fantastic home-cooked meal on a Saturday night? Wine lover? Buy a bottle of their favourite brand. You make the best chocolate fudge ever? I’ll take some, thank you very much.

Experiences – You’re buying for your sister who’s been talking about learning to sew? Pay for her to take a beginner sewing class. What about a month’s membership to the local yoga studio or gym? Season’s tickets? Cooking, photography, art, woodworking, quilting, automotive repair, knitting or welding classes…the options are endless!

Knit socks – If you’re a knitter, whip up a few pairs of socks to give. Everyone loves funky knit socks to wear around the house and inside their boots. If you’re not a knitter, you can often pick up beautiful socks at local craft fairs. I always ask my mother for knit socks (she makes great ones) because I wear them every day at home.

The gift of time – Busy people love offers to cook, clean, run errands, or repair things. This also applies to people who no longer have a lot of mobility. Most parents with young children would love your babysitting services for a couple of nights so they can get out and enjoy some couple’s time.

Donations – There are people who will insist, “Don’t buy me ANYTHING! I don’t want or need it.” If you still feel compelled to show you care, make a donation to their favourite charity and let them know. You feel good, they feel good, win-win. At a Secret Santa gift  exchange last year, I made it known that I didn’t want anything and put out the word that my Secret Santa could make a donation to the Humane Society.

She did, and I felt good knowing that we were helping the animals.

I could list a lot more, but I think you’ve got the idea. There are so many meaningful gifts you can give that aren’t going to end up stashed in the back of a closet, returned to the store, or on the yard sale table. And a lot of what I listed are things that even kids would love.

A carefully chosen item from a great shop can be lovely to receive, but there are so many gifts that have meaning beyond their material value. Try including some of these things on this year’s shopping list. I think you’ll be pleased with your recipients’ reactions.

Merry Christmas!