Saturday, November 24, 2007

Simplifying Christmas #1: Shopping for the adults in your life

Here are several ways you can make your Christmas shopping for the adults in your life a whole lot simpler, giving you time (and peace of mind) for doing other things:

  • Get all the adults on your list the same thing, more or less. Some suggestions: Books of movie tickets, gift certificates, bottle of wine in a gift bag. Trader Joe's, I've noted, has gift certificates. I can't imagine anyone being unhappy about getting a Trader Joe's gift certificate. Most regional malls, as well, offer generic gift certificates, which can be used at any store. That could be your one and only (imagine that!) trip to the mall during the Christmas season - to buy gift certificates for everyone on your list. Some people consider this tacky, but I, personally, think it's thoughtful, because you are giving them whatever their little heart desires, and at the same time taking some pressure off of yourself, giving you time to focus more on experiences during the holidays. Because, as you grow old and wise, the experiences are what are going to really matter. Not the merchandise.

  • Food baskets: Some people hate getting food baskets, some like it. Myself, I like it, a lot. If someone were to give me a basket full of tastefully arranged goodies that I enjoy: marinated artichoke hearts, smoked salmon, good cheese, crackers, English toffees, a pint of brandy--I'd be in 7th heaven. So, if you know (or can find out) what foods various family members really like, this is an excellent way to simplify. There are lots of places to get nice baskets at a reasonable price. Couple those with some fancy red cellophane, ribbon, and nice cards, then go food shopping. Do it all in an afternoon, and then prepare the gifts while watching a Christmas movie, or listening to Christmas music in the evening. Make it a family affair, if you have a spouse and kids. And remember - you can throw in other things besides food. Votive candles, sachets, incense, soaps, lip balm, etc., etc.

  • Consider giving someone something they can do, rather than just things they can keep (to gather dust, sometimes). Know a golfer? Buy him/her "x" number of games at a local course, and throw in some golfing gear to go with the certificate. The same applies to a bowler. My guess is that if you're at the bowling alley with cash in hand, even if they technically don't offer gift certificates, they'll work something out. All you have to do is ask.

  • Along the lines of giving people things they can do, season passes for various venues can be a great present. Season tickets to the local symphony, or the local theater company. An annual membership to the Seattle Art Museum is only $35 for a senior, $30 for a student, and $75 for a dual membership. Or an annual membership to the Pacific Science Center in Seattle. Once you start looking around, you'll find a surprising number of gift opportunities like this, many of which can be purchased online.

  • motorcyclelarge.jpgWhat about getting adults "gifts for the soul?" Replicas of antique toys, for example. Generally speaking, something quaint and colorful will please, just for the emotions it evokes. You also might find some real antique toys at antique stores or thrift shops. For Western Washingtonians, the city of Snohomish has some excellent antique stores.

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