Christmas Gift Ideas
When it comes to gift-giving, a good rule of thumb is: a little thought goes a long way toward picking an appropriate -- and appreciated -- gift. So here are a few things to consider when shopping for someone else.
- What does the person already own/wear/do? Notice the details of your friend or family member's wardrobe and activities, their personal style and their hobbies. What they do and what they wear says a lot about what they need and want.
- Have they admired a particular item in a store, or made a remark about something they've seen a friend wear? These subtle (or not-so-subtle) clues will help lead you to a gift they'll love.
- Do you know of anything they have that is worn out and that you could replace?
- Could they use a duplicate of something for the office or for the car?
- Have they expressed an interest in a new hobby and could you find a book or a kit about it?
- Do you know of a particular brand they like? Coffee? Tea? Cereal? Look closely -- I bet there's something!
- Do they treat themselves to something like Starbucks coffee or Godiva chocolate? Can you afford to treat them to that?
When I had a lot of people -- of various ages and interests -- to shop for one year, I was tapped for ideas, so I began to brainstorm and write down anything and everything. Here's what I listed:
- Home Sweet Home: a bunch of flowers, picture frames, photo albums (include a picture of the giver?), blank note cards with or without stamps, candles and/or holders, mugs and cocoa, teapot and tea, good or flavored coffee and a pretty tin (or a rugged and manly tin, depending on the recipient!) , dishes and toppings to make ice cream sundaes, recipe book, portable file box and files
- For the car: car wash kit, organizer, emergency kit, flashlight, basic tool kit, jumper cables, travel mug, mug holder, a portable chair (that folds to a small size)
- For the office: name plate for door/desk, day planner, legal pad holder (to take notes in meetings), desk organizers, a small coffee maker, business card holder
- For the holidays: ornaments, ornament organizer, disposable camera, holiday-themed mugs/dishes, Christmas music or video
Custom Gift Set
Get a nice-looking box or even just a clear plastic box. Add a collection of (inexpensive) pieces, and you have a thoughtful and practical gift. Your collection could include: kitchen gadgets, hair accessories, Christmas goodies, candy, stationery, pens, office supplies, crayons, paper, art supplies, beauty products, fishing lures, travel games, toy cars, books, DVDs, etc. The possibilities are literally endless!
Christmas Photo Album
Buy a photo album and fill it with pictures that would be of interest to the person.
* If the person is a relative who you watched grow from infancy, then take pictures from their birth upwards and place them in the photo album.
* If the person is a friend, include photographs of the times you two shared together.
* For friend or family, print the memorable digital photos that you've swapped throughout the year(s).
* You can make it a scrapbook by including other mementos, such as small charms, newspaper clippings, ribbon, etc.
Whatever the theme, make the collection even more special by including personal comments under each picture and writing the date if you know it.
Whether on paper or electronic, create personalized coupons that meet a need for the recipient and/or promote spending time together. Some examples would be:
- Household Chores: Mowing the lawn, weeding the garden, washing the windows, cleaning the gutters, washing the car, raking leaves, shoveling snow, cooking dinner, washing the dishes, doing the laundry, ironing, etc.
- It's a Date: joining them to watch "their" TV show, playing their choice of game, teaming up to make their favorite food
- Pamper-ings: backrub, manicure, romantic evening out
- Out and About: movie of your choosing, drive in the country, walk in the park
- Schoolin' 'Em: teaching them to use a new app, or how-to's for a hobby
- Get Creative: photo shoot, music video, scrapbooking, painting
- Gift Cards: Same idea as a gift card from a business, except that you accompany the recipient to the store (where they can spend the amount of the card) or to the restaurant, the concert, etc.
The possibilities for these Christmas I.O.U.s are endless: take what you know about what they like, and mix in a bit of imagination.
The I.O.U.s can be simply written on small pieces of evenly-sized different colored construction paper and placed in a decorated basket. Another alternative is to use a three-hole punch to make holes in the paper and then use a ribbon to bind the pages together and present the I.O.U.s as a coupon book (decorate the outside of the book by drawing on Christmas shapes or cutting out small Christmas-related pictures from magazines or old Christmas Cards.) These I.O.U.s can be redeemed at any time during the year; however you can put an expiry date on them to be sure that they're used up before getting some new ones next Christmas. :-)
* Take 4 or 5 cinnamon sticks and dip them in melted chocolate.
* Place them on wax paper and sprinkle with crushed peppermint candy.
* After they dry, wrap them in cellophane and tie with a ribbon.
* Place the chocolate cinnamon sticks in a coffee mug along with some packages of cocoa. (Or small bags of coffee or cider. Use your imagination.)
Simple gift ideas with suggestions for what to write on the gift tag.
* Soup or soup mix -- Wishing you a "Souper" Holiday Season!!
* Frozen or ready to bake pizza -- "Warm up to a wonderful Holiday Season Topped with Christmas cheer!"
* Apples and Hershey's Hugs -- A teacher can't live by apples alone...She needs "Hugs" too!!
* Loaf of Bread -- For being there when you were "Kneaded", for "Rising" to the occasion, large or small. For never "Loafing" on the job, for helping others to "Heel" with TLC. No matter how you "Slice it", you do a terrific job loving Others. Merry Christmas!!
* Jolly Ranchers -- Have a Holly "Jolly" Christmas!!
* Rootbeer -- We're "Root"ing for you to have a Happy Holiday Season and a Wonderful New Year!!
* Chex Party Mix -- Remember Santa "Chex" his list twice to see who's been naughty or nice...so be good for goodness sake!! Merry Christmas!!
* Wire Whisk (filled with chocolate kisses) -- "We WHISK you a Merry KISSmas!!"
* Jar of Jelly -- jelly is like love -- you can't spread it around without getting some on yourself! Merry Christmas!!
* Bell -- With each chime of this festive bell, may a Christmas wish come true. And bring you peace and happiness to last the whole year through! Merry Christmas!
* Nuts -- "We're nuts about you!" Merry Christmas!
* A juice pitcher filled with candy canes -- "We pitcher you raising a little "cane" during the holidays!" Have a merry Christmas!!
See the whole list.
- For an additional element of surprise (and to avoid month-long fights over who has the most gifts under the tree) number gifts instead of writing the recipient's name. For example, all of Suzy's gifts are marked 1, all of Bobby's are 2, etc. Keep your numbering system secret until you're ready to open the gifts.
- If you have a large, bulky gift, don't bother to wrap it. Instead, hide it and wrap something smaller (a small item related to the big one, a picture of the gift, etc.) to put under the tree. When that gift is opened, say something like, "Oh, I have something that goes with that," and go retrieve the real gift.
- If you want to save time and money on wrapping -- or if you just like to be sneaky -- hide all of the "real" gifts, and wrap something smaller. You could make it a game by letting them guess the real gift based on the clue they just opened. In keeping with the spirit of the holiday, don't make 'em sweat too much though. ;)
- Recycle your Christmas wrapping paper by using it to wrap gifts all through the year. You can 1) wrap the gifts with the blank side of the paper out, or 2) buy a style of paper (I prefer a simple solid silver) that you can use for Christmas or for birthdays, anniversaries, etc.
-Don't be afraid to try something new. Add a new dish to your holiday table. Or some new ornaments to your tree. Buy the new Christmas CD your friends have raved about. Have a child make Christmas-themed drawings, and turn them into decorations for your home or your tree. Or, try the "everything old is new again" approach: find your grandmother's recipe for eggnog, play a Christmas "parlor game" from the Victorian era with your guests. After all, adding new and wonderful holiday memories is what it's all about!
-Don't buy a gift they don't want. More specifically, this means that if you see something you've been wanting, it may not necessarily top their gift list. So if you, the avid sushi chef, spy the elusive seaweed you've been wanting, write down the name of the store and put it on your list. Don't buy it for your good friend who thinks of sushi as bait.
-Don't forget to bring a "holiday cheer" gift when you attend a holiday party. (See "Simple Gifts" above for some ideas.)
-Don't forget to send thank-you notes. Sure, it's great to hear the "thank you" on the phone, but a note really goes the extra mile. Don't let poor handwriting stop you -- it's the thought that counts. Make sure it's personal, and that it mentions the gift specifically. The only person you can leave off your list is...Santa. Think of it as an opportunity to update everyone's address!
-Don't forget to shop around. It pays to look at a few different merchants (especially if you're looking for a big-ticket item), so you'll know you're getting the best price and the best service.
Think Outside the Box
If you and those with whom you normally exchange gifts all agree that you don't need any more stuff, you could...
... skip the gifts at your celebration, but have each person prepare to share about their favorite Christmas(es)
... get together and work on a project (home repair, making a craft, etc.)
... gather with some things you already have and see if anyone else wants them or will swap something for them.
... spend the money you would've spent on gifts on taking a trip together.
... all shop for gifts for someone else (perhaps someone needy, or someone you all want to surprise). For your Christmas celebration, gather together and show the gifts around, then have a group gift-wrap session.
... all donate the money you would've spent on gifts to a church or charity. On Christmas, you could all share where your money went, or maybe keep that information secret and just spend time together.
... pool your money and buy something for someone else or give it all to one charity.
... show photos or just express thanks for specific things people have given or done for you throughout the year. (Actually, this would be a great thing to add, even if you do exchange gifts!)
... begin a new Christmas Tradition.