Choosing the Right Gift

Choosing gifts for family and friends--at least choosing gifts that will be appreciated and enjoyed--is all about knowing the likes, interests and needs of the gift recipient. Gift Giving 101 mandates that you give a gift the receiver would enjoy receiving. No where does it say that said gift must cost lots of money--or any money at all.

Choosing the right gift may seem like an art form and perhaps it is. Choosing a gift is not only about the gift itself, but that you put thought and effort into your choice. That's what a good gift says to the recipient, "You really know me. I am important to you."

For example, you know someone who collects old jewelry. You might spend time throughout the year collecting jewelry finds at thrift shops or garage sales. Doing so, and presenting such a gift shows that you thought about the recipient and knew them well enough to give them something to delight.

On the other hand, you may be a last-minute shopper and decide to buy a new piece of jewelry for this person. The recipient may still be pleased with your choice, but it doesn't show the same level of effort and consideration as the former choice would.

Giving From the Heart

Some people are reluctant to give photos as gifts for whatever reason, but family members in particular are happy to receive pictures of their loved ones.  I've found that medium-size pictures, 4x6 or 5x7, are the preferred size to receive. You can go the extra mile and have the photo matted and framed, or frame it yourself.

Digital photo frames are another good gift idea; the prices on these have become more reasonable than when first introduced. You can literally put hundreds and sometimes thousands of picture files in these photo frames.

Parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles enjoy receiving gifts that children have made.  You could put together a small scrapbook of drawings and/or stories the kids have done and present them. Another idea is to frame children's drawings or artwork and give as a gift.

Inked impressions of little hands and feet put into a suitable frame is a great memento for family members. So are the plaster castings of hand prints and/or footprints.

The gift of music is a popular choice, especially if you know the type of music the recipient enjoys. You can buy or create CDs of a group or genre, and present encased, to recipient.

Coupon books for personal services never go out of style. Create a book of coupons that are redeemable during the coming year for activities you are willing to do for and with the gift receiver. Ideas might include babysitting young ones for a several hours, cooking dinner, giving a manicure, weeding a garden--the only limit is your imagination.

Put to good use any crafting or art skills you may have. I cherish doilies and table runners my grandmother made and gave to me. The people in your life will feel the same way about something you have created just for them.

Buying Gifts on a Budget

There is no shame in choosing a budget for your Christmas gift giving and sticking with it. And in these tough economic times, perhaps you cannot a lot any money for Christmas.  Don't let either of these situations cause you anxiety.

Try to avoid using credit cards or payday loans to get you through the holiday season, because come January, any anxiety you had about buying gifts for Christmas will be replaced by the anxiety of paying bills caused by spending money you didn't have.

Spending time with one another really is the best gift of all. Being able to break bread together is a nice bonus. Exchanging gifts is not mandatory when you don't have the financial resources to do so.