Gift giving shouldn’t make you go broke – think outside the box
By Staci-lee Sherwood
Every holiday season we see throngs of people gathered at stores hoping to find the perfect gift. Traditionally the gift shopping season starts the day after Thanksgiving with Black Friday and runs till Christmas Eve. What should be a time of love and happiness with friends and family often turns into a nightmare of stress. Many people go into debit with their gift shopping but they don’t need to. Before making that purchase ask yourself if this is something the person you’re buying for both wants and needs this item.
A little creative thinking about what makes a good gift can help you de-stress, save money and actually give something truly wanted and needed. Who doesn’t love getting presents? Even as adults we still relish getting a package and opening it up to discover something we want. It can be fun unwrapping a box but how many dresses or trinkets does someone really need? The best gifts are those someone can use and not have to buy themselves. Think of gifts as a way to make someone’s life easier, not just something that makes them smile.
It’s not a competition
Gifts shouldn’t have to meet an arbitrary standard set by others. Giving a gift should be a voluntary act of kindness not a mandate. If this is more about scoring points with a person, you might want to re-think your idea of friendship. Much of the fanfare that surrounds the holiday season, and gift giving in general, is generated by those who make a profit selling their products. If you pick gifts based on how strangers on social media will respond you will never win that game. This only serves retailers not consumers.
Quantity does not equal quality
This follows the logical principle that what you give is more important than how many packages you show up with. A gift should be something special and unique to the person you’re giving it to. How much thought could have gone into it if you look like you just came from a shopping spree? Think what would mean the most to you and reciprocate. One meaningful gift outweighs a car full of trinkets and gadgets that will likely be re-gifted.
There’s nothing wrong with shopping or even a little retail therapy now and then. Modern culture is now driven by consumerism that values quantity over quality. We see this is the lifespan of products that used to advertise they last a lifetime. Years ago the Maytag appliance company had commercials promoting how their repairmen were bored because their appliances rarely broke or wore out. Those days are gone, appliances and electronics now have a much shorter lifespan. This is designed to keep the public constantly buying newer products to replace ones that used to last for decades. This is the downside of a consumer driven economy. This also leaves little room for recycling. We are forever throwing out products for newer versions since there is little money in repair and more money in replace.
This crowd is waiting outside at midnight for Target to open with their Black Friday sales. Every year millions of people stand in line and rush through the stores in hopes of getting a bargain. I have no problem with bargains or shopping. However the increasing addiction people have to shopping and the widening gap between the ‘haves and have nots’ should make us all stop and ask just how many toys is enough?
Instead of making Black Friday being about buying things that for the most part no one really needs, why not do a good thing for others instead? Try adopting a black cat or black dog from a shelter, rescue home or animal control. These black furry animals are the most overlooked and least likely to be adopted making them among the first to be killed in the shelters.
Think outside the box
When deciding on a gift for someone think about what they need more than what they want. A gift that fills a need will have true meaning while one that fills a want may not be a real gift after all. The best gifts tap into the uniqueness of the person; what they need, what they like and how they live. Not all gifts come in a wrapped box with a bow, the gift is the act of giving to someone else. Here are some ideas that might help get the creative juices flowing while being less stressful on your budget.
· For pet owners offer to petsit for free on their next night out or vacation.
· Homemade desserts and food beats store bought any day of the week since they have the special ingredient of love.
· If someone is sick or injured offer to do their errands/housecleaning.
· For those challenged in the kitchen offer to cook a few dinners for them, teach them to cook or take them to a cooking class.
· If you have a friend that works late at night sign them up for a self defense class.
· Write a poem, song or love letter.
· If you’re creative homemade gifts are an option.
· Take someone to a play, opera, concert or museum. Bringing a little culture to someone’s life that doesn’t have any can help them broaden their life experiences and change the way they see things.
· If you’re artistic paint their portrait, design a garden or refurbish some furniture that has seen better days.
· Take someone on a mini vacation or picnic.
· Do a little volunteering with someone. This can bring people closer together as they experience the joy of helping others. There really is something to that.
· Make a donation to someone's favorite charity or cause in their name.
As you can see not all gifts are found in a store or on a website. There is an endless supply of ideas when you change the way you think of gifts. This doesn’t just apply to holidays. Use your creativity and your friends, family and wallet will all benefit from it.