This is the season of more, more, more. More gifts, more food, more gatherings and definitely more stress. Kids are excitedly counting down to Christmas morning to see what presents the dude in the big red suit (or in our house, the dudette in the fuzzy red plaid flannel pj’s) has left for them.
I’m sure if I asked for a show of hands, I’d get an overwhelming amount showing me that this time of year stresses because it’s hard finding gifts for the person (or people) who “have everything”. How many kids toys can you possibly give? When is it too soon to buy an iPad? How long will it take to pay off the credit card bill? No wonder there are humbugs out there! When you’re this stressed out, it’s tough to enjoy the season and the quality time together. I know there have been many times when I just want to lock myself in my room and have a few hours of silence.
I’m not going to preach about what you should or shouldn’t get for people, how much to spend, and what gifts are appropriate because I certainly struggle with this as much as the next person. But I thought I would offer up some ideas for gifts that don’t leave as much clutter, don’t wreck your bank account too terribly much and give the greatest gift you can offer your family: quality time together.
1. Gift Cards I had someone tell me once that gift cards were the worst gift because it meant you weren’t trying hard enough and really didn’t care about the person. I couldn’t disagree more. Gift cards are pure genius in my opinion because they offer so much to both the giver and receiver. For the giver, you don’t have to stress over a particular gift idea or getting someone something that they don’t like or would never use. You also are able to stick to a set amount of spending and not go over budget. For the receiver, you have the freedom to purchase what you like. Maybe it’s to a coffee shop you like to go to but don’t want to spend $5 on a latte. Maybe it’s money you can put toward a larger item you’ve been wanting to buy for yourself and have been saving for. Gift cards don’t have to be for “stuff” either. They can be for a night out, a trip to the museum or amusement park or a book store/coffee shop. The possibilities are endless.
2. DIY anything Pinterest is popular for a reason. It gives you endless tutorials, ideas and inspiration to try things you never would have thought of on your own. Yes, some items will not turn out exactly as presented (check out this post for proof of this…or come to my house and I’ll show you a few examples) but it’s certainly not impossible to find something for anyone on your list. From homemade, non-toxic room scents to candles to baking or crafting, making something at home puts a beautiful personal touch on any gift. If you have kids, get them to help you make or bake. Not only does this teach them that the best gifts don’t necessarily come from a store but it also gives you some quality time together to have fun creating.
And speaking of quality time…
3. Quality time gifts: It’s been said many times over that the best gift you can give is one of time. So why not give it? Plan a date with your spouse, if you have more than one child, plan a day for the two of you to go out and do something fun together with no one else around. Maybe find a house project (baking, building, painting, gardening) that you can work on together. You’d be amazed at how these kinds of gifts benefit both the giver and receiver (think of the conversations you could have that may not have otherwise come to play).
4. Books: Yes, books can clutter and you can definitely have more than you know what to do with but I’m of the opinion that you can never have enough books. The great thing about books is that they are practical on multiple levels. With young ones, they give you quality time together when you read them. With older kids, it gives them (and you) the opportunity to expand your intellectual horizons or introduce “the classics” that you may have enjoyed at their age. For like-minded adults, it could be an opportunity to read a book together and talk about it over coffee. Books are also great re-gifts as well. Pile up some books that you’re done with and have a book exchange with friends. Whole new library, no cost to anyone. Perfection.
5. Gift “Cards” Not the same as the first item on the list. This one came to me via my mom’s group at church and it was so genius that I am definitely planning on doing this when my kids are a bit older and will better understand the concept. I actually did this for my hubby on his birthday when we were dating back in our young and carefree days 😉 All you do it fill an envelope/bag/box (basically, whatever you have at home) with cards that contain a “gift”. The key is that the gift is an experience, not necessarily an item. Examples range depending on the ages of the people you’re doing them for but could be: extra show on tv; movie date with mom/dad; extra dessert; 10 min extra playtime; trip to the park/zoo/museum. For an adult (or perhaps a mother runner in the house…) it could be things like: no-cooking night (in our house, that would also be called frozen pizza night); coffee with friends, 1 hour of solo running time, sleep-in day; kid-free coffee date etc. It may even be offering to babysit for friends so that they can enjoy a night out together. The possibilities are endless. A lot of these things can, and perhaps should, be done on a regular basis to really amp up the quality time but it also makes for a very thoughtful gift because it’s a way to show your loved ones that you love and value them and want to spend quality time with them. Believe me when I say that this is the type of gift that can go miles to making someone feel loved and appreciated.
These are just a few simple ideas I came up with. I’d LOVE to hear yours! Leave a comment with your best minimalist/simplistic gift ideas!
Happy un-shopping 😉