With the holidays fast approaching, Scott and I have again turned our thoughts to gifts for the family. Holiday shopping can be stressful, tedious, and time consuming - not to mention expensive. But believe me, gift-giving doesn't have to be unpleasant.
When it comes to gifts, it really is the thought that counts. No one in our circle of family and friends - fortunately - is relying on our gift to fulfill any need - or want - for that matter. In the true spirit of a gift, then, we are free to give of ourselves. It has become our tradition to give non-traditional gifts by thinking "outside the box."
For us, gift-giving is a joy rather than a pain in the neck and pocketbook because each year we challenge ourselves to be thoughtful, creative and budget-conscious. We are always proud of the gifts we give and we feel that the recipients are even more appreciative for the care and thought we put into them. Our approach also alleviates the "obligatory" factor of gifting, because our gifts come from the heart and not from the mall.
Let me share some of our previous gift ideas to illustrate what I mean by "thinking outside the box."
- One year, two family members were diagnosed with diabetes. The subject of health was on our minds, so we made a donation to the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation on behalf of each recipient.
- When we noticed that our growing nieces and nephews were leading such independent lives, we thought it would be nice to give the whole family a reason to spend some time together. We created a Family Movie Night basket which included a DVD (The Princess Bride was our excellent choice), homemade flavored popcorn and several blanket throws.
- Then there was Couple's Game Night where we host a night away from the kids each month at our house to play games, enjoy snacks and visit with each other as adults.
- Last year we offered "Aunt and Uncle Day" where we invited the nieces and nephews over to our house (two at a time) for some age-appropriate fun with us, including yoga and spa day for the girls, cooking/guitar lessons and crafts for the boys. It was all about making memories.
Each of these ideas was targeted at the current circumstances and priorities of those we were gifting. Getting to the essence of the recipient is the key to coming up with a great, personalized gift idea. Once you have the "a-ha" moment, you just need to flesh out the concept, making the completed gift as simple or as detailed as you can afford in time, effort and cost.
Brainstorming ideas for people on the gift list creates a wonderful opportunity for teaching children about giving. What a great chance for them to think of others at a time of year that can so often become all about "things." As a bonus, the creation and presentation of the gift can become a satisfying family project incorporating everyone's ideas and talents.
Scott and I want gift-giving to be a meaningful experience, for ourselves and for those to whom we give. We accomplish that by giving a piece of ourselves. One size fits all.