Thursday, December 03, 2009

Gift Giving...

I have already expressed in comments how I feel about the holidays. Definitely not the fun for me that it used to be. Reading Maureen’s post yesterday brought it all back too. The thing is I think I was truly spoiled as a child. I’m the youngest of six so for me the holidays were about everyone coming home, getting together, laughing, playing. Not to mention I also got tons of gifts. Packages from Santa and my brothers and sisters. My birthday is the 19th of December so in addition to all the Christmas fun, I got all the birthday fun too. I never had a problem with it being close to Christmas.

For me December was like my own special month filled with good times.

Now December is about getting older and stringing lights off the deck on my condo. There is a reason women marry… I’m convinced it’s to have a husband to string the Christmas lights. And the other tough part about the holidays: gift giving.

I have to confess - I am a sucky gift giver. I never know what to give. I hate giving gift cards because they’re too easy but I do it anyway. All my nieces and nephews are teenagers so they just get (and just want) cash. No fun in even thinking about ideas there.

Each year my one sister manages to find the perfect gift and each year I strive to match it… and fail.

Last year I gave my assistant at the office a gift card to Dunkin Donuts and Petco. She likes coffee. She has dogs. I thought this would be good. She gave me the most beautifully illustrated book on Jane Austen you’ve ever seen. Copies of personal letters from Jane, copies of original manuscript pages… I wanted to cry.

So I’m taking this opportunity to use this blog for personal gain. HELP ME. I need good gift ideas. I need clever, thoughtful ideas I can steal…(cough, cough)… borrow so that I won’t be the sucky gift giver again this year.

The one gift I’ve already bought for myself… naturally a good book. Molly, I can’t wait to read The Night Before Christmas anthology. I plan to save it as my reward… for hanging up those darn lights!


Karen Whiddon said...

I have the same gift-giving problem. My family provides me with lists. However, for people at the office, one year I got concert tickets for this musical group my receptionist loved. Another year, I got all the employees wine and a gift card to a reastaurant. If your assistant likes dogs, maybe make her a basket. Get a book on dogs or featuring dogs, go to Petco and pick up special dog shampoo, some treats, maybe some toys or bisquits, and they even have cute bracelets for people with dog charms and crystal. That would be thoughtful.

Or if she likes theatre tickets, get her that and make a basket with a bottle of wine or something.

The trick I think is to personalize the gift. It's time consuming and requires thought, but it's worth it if the person really loves it!

Good luck!

Alli said...

Personalising is definitely the way to go - and Karen's ideas are fabulous!

I'm an art and craft kind of gal, and one Christmas I bought some lovely journals and found inspiring quotes that I sprinkled on blank pages throughout the book. This was for a couple of people who were "ideas" people - one was an artist, and the other was starting his own business. They both loved that I found quotes pertaining to their situation and loads of blanks pages for them to scrawl their ideas.

Maybe this could work for a writer friend, or a student or a harried mum.

Maureen McGowan said...

Gifts used to be my favorite part of Christmas... mostly giving also receiving. i used to buy stuff all year long waiting for Christmas and often had several gifts for each person on my list.

But age and time have sucked the fun out of that for me, too. My siblings have made it clear they hate it when I spend more time and/or money on gifts than they have time or money to do for me... and while I get it... I really don't care what they give me. I wish they could just accept that I like giving them stuff...

So, now I spoil my niece and nephews. I'm an auntie. It's my job. And that part is fun.

Boy, I feel like I'm coming off as a total scrooge in these posts. I actually mostly love Christmas. I think it's my killer deadlines this year that are making the upcoming holiday feel more like a burden than something to look forward to.

And I'm with you on the stringing lights, Steph. Not to mention putting up trees. So hard all on your own. For the last few years I haven't done a tree and last year my sister and her family came to visit for a few days, just after Christmas, and the first thing my nephew did when he got here was race around my house... then came up to me with a stricken look on his face and asked, "Where's your tree?" I felt horrible.

Eileen said...

Argghhh! The gift dilemma! It's hideous! And there's always that person for whom you didn't buy a gift who gives you something sweet and thoughtful. Not to mention, those kind friends who are simply in a much higher socio-economic bracket than you are (well, than I am) and buy you something lovely when all you can afford to do is get them a little something that they probably don't want.

I'm thinking about giving edible gifts this year . . . I make a killer rocky road fudge and spiced nuts.

Karen said...

Oh and another cool gift idea - if the person likes tea (or even coffee), get a cute teapot and different types of teas and make a basket. Or a mug and different coffees, or even a grinder.

Wow - amazing how I can have all these ideas for you, but when it's time for me to give gifts, I draw a blank. Sheesh

Maureen, my deadlines are killing me this year too, so I understand. I swore I'd never have another deadline over the holidays, then this continuity came along and I couldn't pass it up. And my siblings get mad at me too, but I like to give gifts! What can I say?

Sinead M said...

We put a spending limit per person which enforces more creative choices, and is something we all appreciate.

Molly O'Keefe said...

oh no Steph - petco vs Jane Austen book...that's a cringer.

I do almost all my shopping on line - it's so easy, it's like getting to every specialty store you ever wanted to get to - big sales and you can totally create a special package for people. Amazon is pretty darn amazing - type in those interests and it practically does it all for you. Ibet it's where your assistant found the jane austen book.

Stephanie Doyle said...

Just a huge thank you for everyone's ideas!

Alli's yours made me smile the most because each year think to myself "I wish I were a craft person."

I am the anti-craft person!

But I'm liking the basket theme.

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