One thing I know for sure – when someone says, “Don’t give me anything,” it’s best to pay no attention. Some people say, “I have everything I need,” and really mean it, which doesn’t rule out wish fulfillment. Some say, “Don’t (sigh) spend your money (sigh) on me,” which means they’re expecting something nice.
After we’ve lived a certain number of years, most of us admit we own enough things. We’re overwhelmed with stuff and we’ve started giving things away. It’s easier to shop for younger people. They really need things and besides, there’s a world of new gadgets they feel they can’t live without.
When someone tells us not to get them anything, but we still want to give, what do we do? We try to think of something unique. I don’t know why. This is tiring and often thankless work, yet we persist. We find it nearly impossible to arrive gift-less.
Ever notice that we tend to spend more on people who have more? Maybe there’s a subconscious desire to avoid standing out because we have fewer resources. I don’t worry about that anymore. I no longer buy luxury items or expensive anythings for anyone except next of kin. And when an item costs more than I should be spending, I try to make sure it fits a real need.
Some other things I don’t buy for anyone: Bathrobes. Sweaters. Any one-of-a-kind clothing. Collectible tchotchkes. By now we all know what we like to wear and we’ve bought enough of it to last a while. As for collections, it seems the real fun in collecting a particular kind of stuff would be hunting for said stuff. If I give you one and another friend gives you one, pretty soon you have a house/patio/yard full of look-alike items. Where’s the joy in that?
Here are a couple of suggestions. Admittedly this list is short because I’m still working on this annual dilemma myself.
1) A gift to share. I got this idea from my daughter who wants a definitive book of nursery rhymes and traditional children’s songs with simple sheet music she can pick out on the piano and teach to her daughter.
2) Books for grandparents to read aloud. Grandparents are great at reading stories because our audience is mostly non-critical. It’s easy to find books for all age levels, since many books have this information printed right in front.
3) A recipe card in a nice dish that’s meant to showcase the particular food. Or cook it, put it into the gift dish and include a copy of the recipe.
4) Classes in specific areas of interest.
5) Subscriptions to hobby publications.
6) Re-Gift and tell the truth. If you received something that doesn’t suit your life, where’s the harm in passing it along and telling the recipient why you’re giving it to them. It seems like a thoughtful thing to do when you’ve got something they can use.
7) Never, ever pay attention to anyone who says don’t give me anything. At the very least, you can give them some of your time. It never hurts to take along something in a nice package to snack on with your coffee or tea or holiday libation.
Ó By Anita Garner