Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Confessions Holiday Gift Guide

It's time for a gift guide! Around the holidays, even for those of us in too much stuff recovery mode, the temptation to buy gifts for friends and family erupts. What to do? Here are some clean and simple gift ideas.

  • Donate to charity. Give a gift of cash to the local food bank, homeless shelter/mission or to an organization like Heifer International. Use Charity Navigator to check out charities before giving to make sure they use donations wisely.

  • Give what the recipient actually wants. Sure you might love that Lalique Crystal vase, but would your mother-in-law? If you must give a gift, at least give what is needed or wanted. Gift giving is a two-edged sword, a loaded gun (add your own cliche!)--it's full of peril. Save yourself by sticking to the known and respecting the values of the recipient.

  • Keep it simple. No child needs a dozen new toys at Christmas time. If a child is on your list, give a single, simple gift. One LEGO set, not six. One Barbie, not a dozen. More gifts overwhelm kids and they stop enjoying the occassion. I've seen over-gifted kids at holidays and birthday parties just go through the motions--ripping paper because they're told to by the adults in attendance.

  • Give edible gifts. But keep them simple. Teacher gifts this year are small bags of Lindt chocolate truffles. Inexpensive, yet tasty. We like to give a plate of homemade cookies to our neighbors. The kids enjoy the process, the neighbors get a sweet treat. Nothing fancy, no expensive ingredients, but a heartfelt sentiment.

  • Above all, if you can't afford it, don't buy it. Remember that o henry story, The Gift of the Magi? I hate that story! Neither of the main characters had money for a gift, so they sold treasures to buy unessential gifts that wound up being useless, because of the sale of the treasures. Such a waste. Remember that story, and keep your hair on your head and your watch in your pocket. A heartfelt hug or a bright smile and a "Happy Holidays" is much more powerful than a gift of futile sacrifice.

That's all! Happy Holidays!

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