Remember the old days when magazines dominated the casual reading pleasure? Those big, thick, colorful catalogs showing brand new consumer products from your favorite giant department stores? Think Sears, Macy’s, FingerHut and others to take you back to those times. These days, however, with the explosion of the internet, you can simply search for the same things online – without bothering to wait for the absent magazines which, by the way, you will never see again as you did in the 90s and early 2000s.
Today, picking the gifts you want has been made ever easier by Amazon Gift Lists, various registries (non-wedding and wedding alike), and gift exchange websites that are outright dedicated to helping you find gift exchange ideas or choose the perfect present. In the following, we try to recapture some of the new Christmas spirit, by focusing on wonderful gifts that speak more from the heart than they do from the wallet.
1. A Remembrance of Things Past
What does this mean, exactly? Well, in addition to being the title of a famous work of literature, this simply means you should catalog the wonderful time your family has together this Christmas. Things may not always be the same – in fact, it’s pretty much guaranteed they won’t, as children grow up and start their own families, etc – so a family journal is a great idea to preserve the memories. Spend a bit on a lovely, embroidered notebook for the collection of short, sweet thoughts from family members throughout the year. By the end of the year, you can all read them together by the fireplace.
2. Choose a Secret Santa Claus
This thoughtful little game is simple and heartwarming: choose one family member, in particular, to whom you wish to give a gift. By the rules of the game, you can only give a single gift. Of course, you can give to more than a single member; but the point is to make sure it’s just one memorable item each. The secret part comes in the leaving of hints and notes about your topmost desires – up to the prescribed dollar limit, of course.
3. Pictures Are Worth a Thousand Words – A Photo Collage
If images are worth a thousands words, then a photo collage is worth at least tens of thousands. Put together a board of happy times of you and the family; it is a very inexpensive gift that is actually invaluable. The key here is to get your family members to give you 10 of their favorite photographs (just an example; you can ask for more) of every member of the family. Bind them together expertly and share your stories while glancing through them this Christmas!
4. Coupon Book Is Always Welcome
If you have any shoppers in your family, then a coupon book would be especially welcome. The personalized nature of this makes it an excellent Christmas time gift, too, and it tends to be the gift that keeps on giving. Although inexpensive, it can take some time to make sure you get the best coupons, tailored to your loved ones’ shopping habits. Don’t stress too much or try to be comprehensive; pick a particular, small section of the house or something and focus on that.
5. A Family Vacation is Always Welcome
Generally speaking, if you’re going somewhere special with the entire family, then it has to act as a substitute for physical presents. For many families around the world, though, this is a great trade-off – if only for the memory-creation aspect. Furthermore, as Thanksgiving concludes and the Christmas countdown begins, you’re bound to find some absolutely fantastic deals on travel – whether local or abroad.
Similarly, the trip you take needn’t be ultra-fancy; sometimes, simply a sojourn to your nearby large park can work wonders for family togetherness, and a fostering of that warm winter spirit.
6. Establish Gift Expectations Early
Anyone with children knows how important this is. As their parents, you of course want to give them the world – but only in principle! You know that in reality, even if money was not an object, this would not be good for them; as such, establish early in the year that just a handful or so of the presents that make their wishlist will actually manifest themselves underneath the Christmas tree on the magical morning of December 25th.
7. Recipe Trading – Inexpensive But Invaluable
This work especially well with extended family and very close family friends who might visit for the Christmas moments. Everyone has a favorite dish, right? So they jot the ingredients down on notecards, and give the recipes to different people on Christmas Day. Make sure there are enough copies so that everyone gets one of each, and gets ready to enter the New Year with the code to a delectable treat.
8. Charity as a Family
One of the most fulfilling things you can ever do is perform eleemosynary acts together as a family, for the less fortunate. Charitable endeavor might not be be what this civilization was built on; but it certainly made it the society it became. Check out Heifer International to make donations to families in need at any place in the world that catches your fancy. There’s also Made by Survivors, Families First and the Salvation Army – to go really supercharged, consider Soldier’s Angels to give back to the men and women who fight for this country. Rest assured if you’re not big on cash – there are plenty of ways to give back that do not require any.
9. Shopping By and For the Kids
This last gift exchange idea might seem like bank account suicide at first; but bear with us: let your kids do the shopping! Of course, you set the terms by giving them a set amount of cash with which to get whatever it is they want for themselves, as well as for the family. It’s a great way to give them a money lesson, while encouraging them to be thoughtful about gift-giving. Enjoy the Christmas Holiday!