For all of you readers who are still hunting for a perfect gift or blankly staring at catalogs hoping an idea bites you or if you have not even started, I thought I would give you some unsolicited advice about my approach to holiday shopping. That is, doing so thriftily and thoughtfully.
- Magazine/newspaper subscriptions
This is one of the most brilliant gift ideas I have heard this year, suggested from a co-worker of mine.
To me, subscriptions are a luxury I would not think to buy myself, but it is such a delight to get something lovely and interesting in the mail, filled with the promise of hours of idly flipping through the pages and rubbing oneself with those perfume inserts.
Magazines can be specialized to anyone on your gift list, with new publications for car lovers, hobby farmers, or those who enjoy women of questionable intentions … I do not pretend to know what you and your family enjoy.
Also, newspapers are a wonderful way to give someone the gift of being informed. (in my objective stance, of course.)
Subscriptions are also very reasonably priced, so anyone can afford this gift that truly keeps on giving, in weekly or monthly installments. The recipient will keep thinking of you each time it arrives in the mail … isn’t that nice?
Also, this gift has the distinct pleasure of being DISPOSABLE. And they are expected to be disposed of. If you have someone on your list who doesn’t need any more STUFF, this is a great choice.
This year, I am gifting my 13-year-old niece with a subscription. While it is to a teen celebrity magazine, and a small piece of me has died forever since its order, I am glad to be giving her exactly what she will enjoy, and maybe she’ll think of me a little when she gets it in the mail … just before she rushes to tear out the dreamy Bieber poster wedged inside.
Similarly to above, experiences do not take up room in someone’s home, but rather will enjoy a permanent place in their heart.
(Icky, but I was compelled to say it.)
In my family, we have gotten each other Chicago Cubs tickets, weekend getaways and a night at a play or movie.
Especially if you have someone on your list who has not traveled since the birth of a child or has been working to bank vacation time, practically asking them to escape for an allotted time is a lovely, thoughtful gift.
Also, if you have guilt-ridden family members who do not feel they can take some time to themselves (you have a Catholic family, in other words), tell them there is an expiration date, and they shouldn’t let the tickets, reservations, etc. go to waste. Voila!
Check out the free-to-join Groupon, LivingSocial, Travelzoo and other websites for bargain-priced tickets for lodging, airfare and performances.
Again, a gift that is “disposable” in a sense (gross?) and generally brings delight to all recipients.
My sister-in-law always brings gallon drums filled with baked goods for the Christmas holiday. While not expected or demanded, she always emerges from her kitchen lair just in time to fatten up her giddy relatives. If she did not buy any gifts, and merely brought her dump truck of goodies to our celebration, I think we would all be satisfied.
Bake something yourself that the receiver would enjoy, or support local businesses by purchasing wine, chocolates or other goodies a far-away relative may not be able to experience where they live.
Do you have a family member that does a lot of commuting? Get them a travel mug with some coffee and a gas card stuffed inside.
Is someone moving to a new home? Buy them the stuff they will need, but would forget to get themselves, like nice hand soap for the bathroom and a welcome mat for their snowy shoes.
One of my most beloved birthday gifts was given to me my junior year of college, when my sister packed up a box of things a cheap college student would lust for in their apartment: name-brand Cheetos and soda, laundry detergent and a bottle of wine. It was a perfect, thoughtful, treasured gift to me because that box contained everything I was craving, but refused to buy. It was a practical, perfect gift.
Thinking about the needs of those on your list may not result in the flashiest gifts, but they will be genuinely appreciated and remembered, maybe more so than two of those extendable reaching hand, As Seen on TV contraptions, that my husband bought our friend a few years ago. Oy.
I hope I have imparted some gift-giving wisdom and eased the spastic shopping colon we are all currently suffering from. If you’ll excuse me, I have to go pick up some other magazines with actual articles in them for my lovely niece.