Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Next to the Last Minute Prep - GIFTS!

    Gift management is always problematic.... balancing the desire to give with the societal expectations.  In our household, years ago, we weaned ourselves away from the massive gift-giving to the children and moved them towards 3 gifts only.  According to tradition, the infant Jesus received 3 gifts... so it worked for us and took some of the attendant Christmas expectations away.

   We also spend time around this season sorting out our annual giving... listing and sharing with each other what our family has given during the year (not just money!) and what we think we need to give to make our year complete :-)  This is entirely subjective but it brings a shift in attitude to our Decembers.

That said.... we live in a culture where gift-giving at this time of year is an expectation.  Our challenge is to make this meaningful and joyous.

There are the people who are no problem to give to (you have THREE ideas already) .... there are those who are a little choosy (stumped now?)... makes it hard when they are your CHILDREN and you need (?) to make them equal... there are those that you really don’t want to spend time, energy or money on..  so.. it’s time to get real!  

Be honest with yourself – what will make you feel good?  What will give you JOY to make or give? 

   Decisions need to be made right now.  WHAT are you giving to WHOM?  Pay attention to your budget – this should be about making someone feel special – not about money spent. 

Get specific!  
**Out of town loved ones first – there are lots of quick and easy things to order wrapped and delivered  OR agree NOT to send gifts!   A visit in March might actually be a better gift for both of you!

You still have a few days to order a gift online and have it get to where you need it on time – but don’t blow your budget!  (Also – most online stores have email lists – and send discounts to people on the list.  Get on the list right now for the store you choose and, at a minimum,  you will probably be able to get free shipping or a shipping upgrade!)

**Close friends / family – make your decisions right now.  Write them down – find the things you haven’t thought about.  Watch your budget – and get creative with gift cards, necessities (socks can be wrapped creatively!) and coupons for services (like perhaps baking the next item your recipient needs?)  I like to do stockings for people.  Adults get really silly with stockings full of inexpensive random items like ice scrapers and animal crackers..           
**Random..... I don’t know about you – but I almost always end up in a situation where I need a gift...  Again, get creative...  I have been known to pick up cookie assortments on sale and give those... Use the 12 Days idea (link to post) and give non-perishable food... ornaments you bought on clearance last year... or just smile and say thank you when you get the gift and you are not prepared!  You can always make a mental note to do something random for that person during the next year if you feel it is necessary.

**I’m not comfortable with NOT giving something (that’s just me – even when I make an agreement not to give gifts!)  so I always dream up (read: find inspiration on the internet!) something small and slightly unique that I have TONS of to give everyone I see.  THIS particular year I am NOT ready – so you will see me carrying around a basket of small candy canes (not unique :-) but I have enough to share with everyone I see. 
     If I get the DESIRE (NOT time or energy :-), I will dress the candy canes up somehow – tying bows or adding antlers / eyes (http://crafts.kaboose.com/candy-cane-reindeer-ornament.html).  There are literally TONS of frugal small ideas on the internet....BUT.... don’t get sidetracked into creating new projects right now!  Only have fun!

The point is.... gift-giving should not be a chore.

Figure out what YOUR needs are in all of this... not selfishly..... but make the Christmas (or Hannukkah or whatever your affiliation :-) preparations bring meaning and spiritual peace into your heart and home.

THAT is how, one by one, we bring peace to the world.

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