Generally speaking, I think it’s safe to say that money’s tight for a lot of us these days. To varying degrees we’ve spent differently, shopped differently, and even want differently then years past. As a result, what to give your loved ones this year might be stressing you out more than normal. And that’s OK. Might I suggest that what to give has a lot less to do with stuff and a whole lot more to do with- why?
You’re stumped when it comes to your mom and best friend this Christmas. You’ve never really had a problem in the past… but life has changed. You’ve changed, they’ve changed, heck the whole world has changed. To top it all off there’s not even a guarantee your gift will make it to them on time anyway.
Some folks out there love the thrill of the hunt for that “perfect” gift, but some of us don’t find that as fun! GASP. I know. I’m that someone who doesn’t enjoy the hunt part of gift giving. Of course I want to be sure they’ll love it, but beyond that… I want to make sure they’ll use it and find it helpful. That it makes a difference and that they smile every time it’s used. More, bigger, and better is not always better… and that’s not just my opinion, there’s actual science to that statement.
With alllllllll that in mind I’ve pulled together a few of my thoughts and hope you find them helpful as you navigate another holiday season.
Start Here And You’ll Know What To Give
Ok that’s a bold statement. But I don’t think I’m lying. It’s easy to default to the same 3 or 4 ideas or to get wrapped up in finding a show stopping gift. In order to break free of that rut, that mindset, let’s remember that gift giving is first an act before anything else. An act of care, appreciation, love that should NOT (in my opinion) be done from obligation, fear, or guilt. If you’re feeling any of those kinda ways when you start to think about what to give this person or that person… take a moment to really reflect on why you might be feeling this way. Chances are there are some much bigger matters to address regarding those relationships other then- what to give them.
Passions and Hobbies
One of my go to what to give musings always circles back to their passions and hobbies. Are they into food, music, art, literature, theatre, dancing, travel? Then get super practical.
- Literature: Make note of their favorite author and hunt for an older edition in hardback. Or, hunt down a signed copy from a living author they love.
- Music: From older records to thrifted mix tapes to creating a special Spotify playlist… or if you’ve got the funds, a pair of tickets to the symphony.
- Food: Gift card to a local cheese or wine shop they can use whenever, specialty ingredients like Fleur de Sel or Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, small batch mixers or simple syrups. If they love Indian spices and flavors, I must suggest that you check out Angry Nani… her chai and curry in a hurry are a staple in my kitchen.
Every Day Needs
This one already doesn’t sound as cool. But I can’t tell you just how important these kinda gifts have been for me in years past:
- Tennis shoes
- A legit hair cut
- Money for gas
- A grocery store gift card
- Streaming subscription or service
One less worry… and that one less worry was priceless. While it may seem silly, there’s honestly nothing silly about being practical. Has your friend really been talking about this one charcuterie board non stop all year, or has she mentioned several times how high gas prices are these days? Has she gone on and on about wishing she had a new bracelet, or has she mentioned how several times that it sucks her running socks all have holes in them now?
I've use these to make homemade crème fraîche, store pestos, house garlic confit, and so much more. Primarily these are being used in my kitchen for sauces, dips, and quick pickles. Perfect to take to a summer BBQ or to nestle into a bowl of tortilla chips. Think next level guac baby.
Another what to give musing relates to their version of self care and what you might be able to do to support that.
- Think baby sitter for one night- either offering or paying for one if they’re comfortable with that type of arrangement
- Bath bombs, sugar scrubs, and soaps can be made or purchased locally
- Nail polish or a gift card to their favorite salon
- New camelback bladder or first aid kit for the outdoorsy person in your life
Self care looks different for everyone, and who knows your friends and family better than you?
Time. If there’s anything this past season of life has taught us- it’s that time is finite. You cannot simply wish the bad to go away. You cannot simply pretend like everything is ok. We are all here for but a moment, and those moments move fast. For those who have friends and families nearby this one’s a whole lot easier. Set a date and spend time with your loved one. Tell them dinner’s on you. Drinks on you. The movie’s on you. The shirt they fall in love with at the mall while you’re shopping together is on you.
Your friends and family live further away, and it’s not looking like you’ll make it home for the holidays? Order a bottle of wine at their local liquor store and buy the same one or one similar to match. Pop on FaceTime, Zoom, Skype (whatever other service you use) and literally pop the bottle together. Confirm their availability and register for a fun class together, like a cooking class, cocktails class, embroidery class… there are so many online class options these days it’s not even funny.
Supporting Small Business
Most, if not all, my suggestions can be sourced locally unless you live wayyyyy out. Small businesses are all around us, fighting to make it through another holiday. Why order bath bombs online, when you can pick them up from the soap maker at your farmer’s market? Why order a gadget online when you can visit your local kitchen shop or pick from one of my recommended cookware basics?
Speaking about small business, that’s exactly what I am 🙂 Your support here, spending time on my blog, leaving comments, rating recipes you’ve tried, sharing my posts on social media, and checking out my online store really do mean the world. Thank you for allowing me to be in business 🙂
My Personal Hot Top Pick
For those of you who are concerned to send physical gifts- gift cards to virtual classes are the hot ticket. During the cold winter months it will give them something to look forward to and an opportunity to safely see others while learning more about and partaking in something they’re already passionate about.
I’ve got a wine lovin crew and gift certificates or a date night with SommSchool has been a HUGE HIT. She hosts public classes year round and they’re perfect for both the novice and expert drinker. Bonus Tip: Register for the same class and get to be with your friend or family, doing something you both love, together.
But, I’m Broke?
Going into debt or spending what you don’t have to make a friend or family member “feel special” is not the answer. Communication is. And I don’t mean just at Christmas time. If the folks you are purchasing gifts for are people you’re close with, chances are they’re aware of your current situation. Which means they should be fairly understanding if homemade gifts mean baked goods, diy sugar scrubs, or dinner on the patio instead of out on the town.
I’d dare to say that gift giving isn’t a tit for tat kinda game… as in…they gave you a gift valued at $50 so now you have to do the same. Honestly, I’ve re-evaluated life long friendships based on this expectation. Because somewhere at the core of those friendships there’s been a breakdown of communication, expectation, and frankly, sometimes just an inherent change of who they now are. All of that is fine and not anyone’s fault. BUT YOU get to determine whether or not to entertain that ideology, that closeness of connection, and ultimately whether or not you’re satisfied going through the motions of gift giving with someone you no longer share the same road with.
It’s OK to set some boundaries and to be clear about them. It doesn’t mean you love any less, or appreciate any less, or are any less. Financial seasons come and go. And if, for any reason, someone you deem special in your life cannot understand that, it’s time for a much deeper, serious conversation with that person. Life and Love mean so much more than money. Which circles us back around to how we kicked this whole thing off with… What to give has a lot less to do with stuff and a whole lot more to do with why 🙂
Let Me Know
Who are the hardest people on your gift list to purchase for, and why? Drop your frustrations below so we can help each other out! Who knows… maybe someone reading this will end up having the perfect solution just for you!
While you’re at the sharing and commenting, please Save to Pinterest or Share on Facebook. I need all the support I can get to keep on growing this dream of mine. A place where practical beats perfect- and simple, delicious food is a lifestyle. A place where together, we can begin filling homes and tables with joy.
Hugs, because handshakes are awkward~