Thoughtful Gift Giving
Once we become parents, many of us refocus our priorities on what is really important—friends, family, and a renewed thankfulness for the many blessings we have. Combine this thought with the holidays and a sometimes sluggish economy, and the days of exorbitant splurges and racking up huge credit card bills are a thing of the past; many families are looking for less expensive ways to celebrate. But does inexpensive have to mean unmeaningful and unpleasant?
The simple answer is no. Smarter spending and more creative gift giving do not make you a Grinch! Try some of these ideas for gift giving this holiday season. These are thoughtful gifts, many of them personalized, all of them from the heart. Many of these are consumable gifts, which is especially nice for the person who has everything and just doesn't need another knick-knack on the shelf collecting dust!
Many families have portraits done each year, especially of the kids. Why not give these precious pictures as presents? You'll be giving a gift of love and something unique that people don't already have and can't buy at the mall! Most studios run holiday specials, so the photos don't have to be costly. Another inexpensive idea is to produce the photos with printer photo paper. If you or someone you know has a printer/scanner, you can scan a favorite picture and print numerous wallet size photos for a fraction of the cost. Combine these pictures with pretty frames and you'll have a wonderful gift to be cherished for years.
Another way to share family memories is through scrapbooks—whether big or small, scrapbooks with pictures and handwritten memories can be enjoyed for a lifetime. Scrapbooks can be of miscellaneous photos, or they can have themes. Scrap photos of your in-laws' recent vacation. Send the grandparents an album with your favorite pictures of the children from the last year. Be creative and don't be afraid to include memorabilia or kids' artwork. Scrapbooks do not have to be a costly gift monetarily, but they are unique, created with time and love.
Houseplants are a nice way to give a gift of nature that will last. Start clippings of one of your own plants (pick something hearty and easy maintenance) in flowerpots, and nurture them for a while. Soon they'll root and you can give a growing plant to someone you care about. The clippings are free and, if you shop wisely, you can get interesting containers for little money.
Gift baskets are fantastic presents, suitable for even the fussiest person on your shopping list. Following are some ideas to get you started, but with some thought, you can come up with plenty more gift themes. Remember, the basket or container you use is part of the gift!
- Italian Dinner: Get as fancy as you'd like with this one. Try a bottle of wine, wine glasses, pasta, a jar of sauce or—even better—some homemade sauce (yum!), candles, a CD of romantic music… you get the idea! You don't have to limit the idea to Italian, either—try Mexican, Barbeque, or even Cajun for something different.
- Movie Night: What better basket to give to parents of little kids—a date night in (no babysitter required)! Include a certificate for a free movie rental or two, soda, or instant drink mixes (tea, hot chocolate, cider), a box of candy (Jujubes, anyone?) and of course a box of microwave popcorn! A theater-style popcorn box or popcorn tin would make a neat container for this present.
- Rub a Dub Dub: Ideas of things to include are bath soaps, lotions, a bath pillow, a candle, maybe even a new fluffy towel, some slippers, or some relaxing music.
- Car Wash: Here's a good one for the man who really loves his car! Make a trip to the auto supply store and you'll find tons of things to include in a car gift basket. For starters, try some car wash solution, a good sponge, wax, air freshener, a quality chamois, even a gift certificate from you to wash the car for free (redeemable in the summer, of course). And don't forget to put it all in a big "car wash" bucket!