Choosing gifts can be difficult at times. This seems to be especially true at Christmas, when our list of gift recipients is the longest. Here are a few thoughts that might make your task easier and more meaningful this year.
First, remember that the most appreciated gifts aren’t necessarily the most expensive ones; they are the most thoughtful ones.
Stop to think about why people are on your gift list.
Are some names there just because they usually give you a gift? In some cases, the best gift you could give might be letting them know you’re OK with the idea of not exchanging gifts. Instead of both of you spending time and money searching for a gift that might end up being “re-gifted,” why not just call and arrange to spend some time together doing something you both enjoy.
Perhaps like many people, you have some names that really shouldn’t still be on your list.
For example, the relatives or acquaintances that are not especially close, but for whom a gift exchange has become an obligatory ritual. Consider sending a note that you are opting out of gift exchanges. (If you just can’t bring yourself to cull them from your list, here’s an alternative solution. For $20 I will name an obscure disease in their honor and send a certificate, suitable for framing, recognizing their special place in medical history.)
For those special people that are still on the list, take a few minutes to jot some notes about them.
Recall the most memorable time you have spent with them, the accomplishment that you think they would be most proud of, and the one thing they would want other people to know about them. These steps help focus on who this person is and what they mean to you.
Take a moment to recall your favorite gifts.
Generally speaking, the gifts that people appreciate the most are closely related to things that make that person unique.
One of my favorite gifts of all time was given to my wife and me last year. Sue (the most wonderful person in the world that watches our daughter during the day), had taken the time to take candid photographs of Ellie during her daily activities.
Sue used a Web site that allowed her to assemble the photographs and some appropriate comments into a book.
Sue designed a simple layout of the photos and comments and created a unique gift for us.
For Christmas she presented us with a hardbound book that has very cute snapshots of our daughter playing, reading, laughing and doing all the things she does during the day when we can’t be with her.
It is sort of a “day-in-the-life” book about our toddler daughter.
I own hundreds of books but none is as precious as that one.
Another favorite gift was given to us by our friend Paul Bookner.
Paul is retired after teaching and coaching at La Vergne High School since the dawn of mankind. (He still can’t quit teaching. He now substitutes at Siegel.)
A couple of years ago Paul’s wife Becci presented him with a gift of painting supplies. Paul began painting using the Bob Ross method. It wasn’t long before Paul was creating his own “happy little trees” under Mr. Ross’ tutelage.
As it turns out, Paul has a true talent for painting.
He has created many beautiful landscapes that beckon the viewer to imagine entering the scene, perhaps wondering what might be around the bend of a quiet wooded path.
The painting that Paul presented to us is beautiful, but for us the most significant value is that it is an “original Bookner”, created just for us.
Maybe you are not a skilled photographer or gifted artist.
As you think of the people on your list, consider the gifts that could only come from you.
Perhaps you have a unique recipe for a food item that others would appreciate receiving along with a thoughtful note expressing how much they mean to you.
Whatever gift you choose for the people on your list, with a little thought and intention, your gesture is bound to be noticed.
Next week: some interesting news for people with headaches.
Dr. Mark Kestner