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.


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:

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.

Christmas I.O.U's

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:

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. :-)

Christmas Mugs

* 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 Gifts

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 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.

Creative Wrapping

Holiday Don'ts

-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.