Cutting Through the Clutter: Dec. 17, 2018

December 18, 2018

By Beth Randall

Are you still deciding what presents to buy for your friends and family? Do you struggle because you think they have it all, they buy what they need or they don’t appreciate the gifts you give?

Several years ago, I decided it was time to streamline my gift giving, and instead of quantity, I started aiming for quality. I found this neat little saying on Facebook or someplace similar: “Something they want. Something they need. Something to wear. Something to read.”

That’s it. I now buy each of my immediate family members four gifts. Of course, I also fill a stocking. I attempted to stop that last year, and I thought my college freshman was going to have a breakdown. Then, I add one extra special item, and that is a gift I have made myself for them.

The homemade gift has been so much fun for me. I have learned new skills and sharpened other skills. I think my family appreciates my efforts and enjoys the unique gifts I make.

This year, I made a macramé plant hanger for my son. I never would have guessed him to be the macramé type; however, this year, he moved to California and lives just a few blocks from the beach. I think the inner hippie in him might have come out.

As my kids and I get older, I find material things aren’t necessarily the important things in life. I try to give them experiences rather than material items. Some examples are tickets to a Chicago Bulls game, tickets to a musical or a gift card for kayaking. All experiences they never will forget.

I wish I would have done a better job when the kids were younger so they didn’t start to expect so many gifts. I gladly would have accepted gifts from my kids from aunts and uncles or grandparents of dance lessons, piano lessons, swim lessons and the like. I know my kids wouldn’t remember the toy they got as an 8-year-old, but I can guarantee they will remember their piano lessons.

For my elderly relatives, I have given gifts that keep on giving. When my grandma was alive, one of her favorite things to do was go to Hardee’s for coffee and a biscuit in the morning. I know she was on a tight budget, so I bought her a gift card she used for many, many mornings in a row at Hardee’s.

One year, my daughter, who was still in high school at the time, asked me for gift certificates for lunch-making. So, I made up these little gift certificates, and she would give me one when she wanted me to make her lunch. It was such a simple gift to give but meant so much to her. What I didn’t like is when she cashed in the certificate at 10:30 p.m. when I was headed to bed.

Think about other gifts you might be able to give that won’t cost you any money but will be so appreciated. One of my friends gave her in-laws one meal per week. She would go to their house and make a meal for them. They loved it. It took time every week, but it was so appreciated.

One final idea is to make a donation on behalf of a cause that means a lot to someone.

My dad is very involved in a bike-refurbishing project. They collect bikes and refurbish them with new tires, chains, pedals or whatever. I have started making a donation to the bike project instead of a gift. My Dad was thrilled the first time I did that and will continue to be so appreciative of all donations to his beloved bike project.

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