If you survived Buy Nothing Day without buying anything, bravo!
But even after your successful act of "shopper disobedience," most probably you still want to figure out your holiday gift list. With a little thoughtful effort, it's not hard to come up with gift ideas that are not just more stuff. Here are some of my favorites:
In addition to the usually much-appreciated gift of homemade food, I particularly like gifts that offer the recipient an experience rather than a "thing," so I'd suggest a museum membership or membership at the zoo; season tickets or tickets for a specific play at a theater; concert tickets; a gift certificate for services at a local spa; or a homemade gift certificate for dinner at a favorite restaurant (you get to go, too!).
I also like to make donations on behalf of recipients to their favorite charities or charities I think they'd find interesting. (Please take a look at the list of my personal favorites at the side of this blog for some ideas.)
Rather than giving yet another toy to a baby or very young child, consider a U.S. Savings Bond in the child's name. Interest on the bond is tax-free if it's used for education, so you're making a nice contribution to the child's college fund.
A very practical gift that's often appropriate for a student with an unreliable car is a membership in the Auto Club.
Homemade gift certificates for services like baby-sitting, car-washing, or rides to the store for those who can't drive are always appreciated and a great option if you happen to be short on gift-giving funds.
And instead of a gift card to a store, I think there's absolutely nothing wrong with giving cash to a young person, especially if it's presented in an unusual or entertaining way. Try wrapping up decorated rolls of quarters for a mysteriously weighty present or put pennies in a glass jar with a big bow around the top. If you'd like to give paper money, a bill in a card designed for the purpose will be perfectly fine, but how about the same amount in crisp new dollar bills bundled inside a wrapped box?
Whatever you choose to give, I hope it doesn't include the latest bizarre and ridiculous item I discovered in a magazine advertisement: nail polish for dogs! Not only do I find this new line of doggie products offensively thoughtless, I can't imagine the discomfort of an animal with an exquisite sense of smell being subjected to the odor of nail polish and, subsequently, polish remover. I'm truly horrified.
I'm horrified, but now I'm curious, too. Readers, have you ever received a particularly strange or ridiculous gift? If you have, please write a comment describing it so we can all share in a good laugh or a moment of stunned disbelief!
© 2007 Cynthia Friedlob