Choosing the right holiday gift for the person you are dating can present a stressful situation this time of year, especially when a relationship is just beginning to blossom. The point is to show the other person you care about them without going overboard. Alternatively, being “out-gifted” (the situation where the present you’re giving isn’t as opulent as the one you’re receiving) is equally embarrassing.
Let’s not forget that the holiday season is creeping up earlier every year, adding to the pressure to buy, buy, buy. Nowadays, retailers are dragging out last season’s holiday swag before Labor Day tans have faded. We get it: the longer this stuff is lying around, the more we scoop up. But when lights, gift wrap and plastic wreaths are nestled next to Halloween costumes, it’s no wonder people are weary by the time the Thanksgiving turkey is in the oven.
In response to the craziness, stress and subsequently, the crankiness brought upon by the holidays, a change of attitude toward gift-giving may save your sanity this season. Forgoing long lines and packed parking lots in favor of untraditional, intangible gifts will impress everyone on your list and will help you recall why this is the most wonderful time of the year.
Get out of Town
Taking a vacation with someone special is a gift that will enrich your life with memories while excusing you from holiday obligations. With a week or two blocked off on the calendar, running around town buying gifts and attending functions just isn’t feasible. What’s more, you’ll get what we all long for more of: free time. Your vacation needn’t be a trip to Hawaii or a European tour—an inexpensive road trip will suffice. The gift is the experience.
Ever find yourself buying meaningless trinkets for people during the holidays just because you feel you have to give them something? Let’s face it: picture frames and candles aren’t particularly thoughtful gifts, and the amount of money spent on them can go a lot further when given to a charitable organization. Small donations made through Heifer International can provide farm animals to impoverished families around the globe. A contribution to an animal shelter makes a thoughtful gift for your friend the dog lover, or you can purchase trees through the Arbor Day Foundation starting at just $3.00.
The Gift of Learning
Many of us who finished school vowed never to return, but giving a friend or loved one a class makes a special holiday gift. Most cities offer interesting and fun classes at reasonable prices. Your thrill-seeking sister-in-law would probably appreciate rock climbing lessons while crafty Aunt Clara may be dying to try her hand at mosaic tiling. Look into what’s available and offer to enroll them in the class or a series of lessons of their choosing. Opting to do the class as a team allows you to enjoy a new hobby together. Couples take a hint: a massage class would benefit both of you for years to come.
Throw a Party
’Tis the season to spend time together, so why not throw a party for all of your favorite people? In lieu of buying presents, host a dinner or cocktail soiree where everyone can catch up, relax and enjoy each other’s company. Let your budget and personality dictate how lavish or low-key the gala is, but keep in mind that a potluck can be just as fun and memorable as a dinner at an upscale restaurant. The objective is for you to enjoy the event with people you love.
The One-Hour Whirlwind Shopping Spree
For those who simply can’t resist buying and opening presents, we suggest the one-hour whirlwind shopping spree. The rules are as follows: head to the mall with your significant other, set a budget, set your watch and off you go! After an hour, your shopping for each other is officially over. This may seem a bit far-fetched, but you’d be surprised what you can accomplish in an hour with a list, a plan and a store directory. For those who love to shop, we’ll extend the whirlwind to two hours. Okay, three. But stick to the budget.