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A little creativity makes for more exciting gift-giving

By Staff
Michelle Blaylock, Mom's Corner
"Let's see now. I'll give Aunt Sherry some bath soap. Uh no, I gave that to her last year. I know, how about a cute figurine? Uh no, that was year before last. Uh. . . ." This used to be my thought process as I was trying to choose presents for family and friends. It's not that I can't think of things to give them, it's that I can't think of things I haven't given them. Well, things I can afford and that aren't just junk.
There are people who are hard to buy for because they get many gifts-teachers, for example. I know one teacher who every few years would bring some of her many figurines and other trinkets to school on the last day and give one to each child in her class! She said she started doing this after about 10 years of teaching and couldn't figure out what else to do with them. What I thought was so sad was that the money spent on those gifts could have been spent on more useful things.
I also have trouble with people like my husband and father. They would often like handyman type tools and I don't know enough about those kinds of items to choose wisely.
So to help solve these problems and to lower my stress level a bit, I've developed some standard gifts. For family, I do try to buy things I know they use. Or in the case of my husband, I just take him shopping before Christmas and have him show me two or three things he wants or needs. Then I can choose from these and it's still a bit of a surprise Christmas morning.
Everyone jokes about Grandma giving socks and underwear, but you have to admit they are useful. One of my grandmothers usually gave a large container of coffee to her grown children. They were both a little sneaky, however, and would occasionally hide something in with the socks or whatever. One year I found a dollar in the toe of each sock in the package.
I also give homemade gifts, if it's something I think the receiver would like and use. One year I gave homemade bath salts to my sisters. Other gifts I have given that have been appreciated are some of my favorite recipes. I usually accompany these with a sample of the finished product. My sisters and several teachers received "jar cookies" a few years ago. These are really neat. You put all the dry ingredients to make the cookies into a large jar. All that has to be done is add the wet ingredients. The web site offers many different recipes for jar cookies. Of course, there are many kinds of homemade gifts to give. Things like homemade pasta, jellies
(also a favorite of one of my grandmothers), and candies, are great, too.
Some other ideas would be to buy your favorite brand of something and enclose a coupon in the present for the item, in case your recipient likes it as well. How about a subscription to a favorite magazine you know they like? Your time can be one of your best presents. For example, have a mother to buy for? How about a few days of free baby sitting? Most moms would probably think you just handed them a winning lottery ticket! How about inviting a friend out to a dinner and movie?
Have a family member who lives out of state? You could round up pictures (old and new) of the family and make a scrapbook for your far off relatives. Have several people in your family moved?
Give each person in your family an updated address book with pictures of each person or family. These are also things your children can help with and the present really comes from your family!
As for teachers, usually by Christmas many of the supplies that were sent in the first of the year need to be restocked. A gift bag with items like hand sanitizer, antibacterial soap, wet ones, etc. is useful and appreciated. Also, since teachers do have a life outside of the classroom, I like giving gift certificates for anything I think the teacher might enjoy. For example, there are gift certificates to restaurants, discount stores, teacher supply stores, book stores, movies, etc. Remember it doesn't have to be a huge gift certificate or gift card. Just think if each person gave $5 in a class of 20 children that would be $100!
Do you have some other unique ideas for gifts or a great holiday recipe? Please send it to me at: Mom's Corner; PO Box 1496; Hartselle, AL 35640.