Gift Blessings and Bombs

It’s that time of year again! The time of year when we agonize over family presents, goody bags, hostess gifts, etc.

unwantedgiftI have a 5 year old who goes to preschool and participates in multiple activities. This means at least 2 holiday parties that will require some kind of “gift.” And then there’s the family members, neighbors, and random people who show up at my house with a gift unannounced. (Hint: Don’t do that!)

So what are some guaranteed good gifts at this time of year?

Anything Homemade:

  • Cookies, candy, infused oils, soup or cookie mix in a mason jar: All these items are great gifts. People will be impressed that you put “so much work” into the gift. You can include your kids in the baking process. And best of all, you won’t end up eating that entire batch of fudge you made.
  • Craft items. Do you knit, crochet, cross stitch, or paint? Highly personal gifts that will be treasured: a win win for everyone.
  • Locally produced crafts. “Pop-up” markets are very trendy right now, and they are great places to find locally made items like journals, knitted hats & scarves, jewelry, hair accessories and stationery.

Consumables or Perishables:

  • Wine is a classic gift, and for good reasons. It tastes good, it’s affordable, and even if you don’t like it, you can fake it through one glass. Just be sure the recipient drinks alcohol.
  • Tea: Tea is becoming very popular, but you don’t have to buy some weird stuff that’s got 25 health promises. Get some plain black loose leaf (Earl Grey and English Breakfast are my favorites), and add an inexpensive tea infuser, and you’ve got a great memorable gift.
  • Coffee. I’m not a coffee drinker myself, but I’m told it’s quite wonderful. Get a bag of holiday variety from your favorite coffee shop. You can score bonus points by buying from a locally owned place instead of a Starbucks, but do whatever is easiest.
  • Flowers. Who says flowers have to be romantic? Bring flowers to a party, or give flowers to a friend, and you’ll see a genuine smile of delight. Best of all, the recipient doesn’t have to keep the gift in her house forever (don’t we all want to declutter?)

Kid Stuff, but for Adults:

  • Get a pack of temporary tattoos. Yes, it’s juvenile, but won’t you and your friends have fun applying them?
  • Stickers. Lots of adults are using fancy planners, and stickers will go right with that trend. But even for digital geeks, a sheet of stickers is a fun item to play with.
  • Coloring books. Yes, they were hot last year. And yes, they are still hot this year.
  • Fiddling Toys. These are those little doodads and desk toys that fit in your hand and give nervous (or bored) fingers something to do during conference calls, carpool lines, etc.

Charitable Donations:

  • These are thousands of fantastic charities out there, and they all need your money. Make a donation to a charity that you know is important to the recipient. I personally donate money to a local charity, Love Wins, and Heifer International.
  • Religious community flowers. Most churches allow you to “sponsor” poinsettias as Christmas decorations. This is a lovely way to acknowledge the passing of a mutual friend or loved one.

So what are some gift bombs?

I have some experience in giving the worst gifts ever, so learn from my mistakes and avoid these potential disasters!

  • Decorated pencils for preschoolers. These are ridiculously popular gift bags, party favors, etc. But do you own a pencil sharpener? Your preschooler almost definitely doesn’t have one at her school (mine doesn’t). Skip these.
  • Store bought candy. Have you noticed how early stores put out Christmas stock? That box of “Christmas” chocolates was on a truck in the heat of August or September. It’s not going to taste good.
  • Overtly religious items. Once I brought a cute Christmas ornament (a snowman) to a gift exchange. The recipient was non Christian and didn’t celebrate Christmas at all. Awkward. Even if you’re bringing a gift to someone who shares your faith, unless you know her very well, a religious item can be a non starter.
  • Anything scented. Some people are very sensitive or even allergic to some scents. Other times they just don’t like the same smells you do. True story: one time a friend had me smell her favorite scented candle, labelled “firewood.” All I could smell was cigarette smoke! In addition, many people are very conscious about artificial ingredients these days, and your candle could become literal landfill material as soon as they inspect the ingredient list.

I hope this guide is helpful to you as you navigate this joyous season of celebration and giving!

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