Monday, December 20, 2010

Instead of buying something silly, give something useful

So here we are.
The week before Christmas.
Already burned out from endless parties, too much booze and togetherness, and broke from gift giving and the aforementioned heavy partying? I feel you.

Starting in mid-November, we get emails asking for suggestions for Christmas gifts. I am afraid that over the years I have become a bit of a curmudgeon about Christmas gifts - I feel like there is altogether too much pressure to spend a certain amount, to get it there on time, to make sure you don't forget anyone, and that everyone gets their fair share.

The thing is, we don't need anything. We don't really want anything. We are very content, and struggling just to make ends meet - so getting boxes of gifts, or gift cards to buy boxes of gifts seems like a waste. I don't want to send someone a gift card. I want to send someone something useful.

So over time, I have compiled a list of useful gifts that you could give to anyone. Loved ones, your brother's new girlfriend who you only met that one time, a teacher or co-worker or friend......really, these gifts can go the distance. And even someone who doesn't like gifts, or doesn't celebrate Christmas, can appreciate these gifts - and use them every day. These also make great wedding or baby shower gifts.

1. Annual gifts - How about a membership to Costco, Sam's Club, their gym, a local museum or arts center, etc. Where do they go regularly? We go to Costco once a week, ourselves. Membership is a great gift you could give someone every year. Another great annual gift? Magazine subscriptions. My aunt nailed this one and I was totally stoked. The gift that keeps on giving.

2. Classes - for the kids: gymnastics, martial arts, mommy and me, ballet, music, horseback riding...
                   for the grownups: art, dance, zumba or nia, yoga.......

3. Staples - No, not the actual staples. Things you use every day. Socks and underwear. Diapers and formula. Towels (kitchen or bath). Glasses. Dishes. Sheets. Solid colored t-shirts. Also things that get used regularly and get worn out quickly: uniforms and sports equipment. Derby girls love nothing more then a new set of wheels, toe stops, or pads.

But maybe you want to give them something special. A splurge. A treat. Here you go:

3. Experiences - a guided hike, paragliding or parasailing, a whale watch or horseback ride. Not as adventurous? A gift card to the movie theater or bowling alley or roller rink! Maybe a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant or that place they get coffee every morning.

4. Services - a massage or pedicure or haircut. A housecleaner for the day after Christmas. Window and screen washing or gutter cleaning in the spring time. A chimney sweep. An oil change. Lawn services. Laundry services. A babysitter. A dog walker. A gift card to the local kennel or dog groomer.

Feel free to add more suggestions in the comments. And don't forget, you can make your own gift certificates and provide a lot of the services and experiences yourself!

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