Oh, hi you guys! I've just been going through my Xmas ornaments, checking my list twice, etc.
So, if you're like me, you really, really, really like giving people presents. And if you're a lot like me, you're really, really, really into the pre-Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah time of year. While some people complain about how it's too soon for Christmas carols in stores or lights being put up, pre-Christmas my favourite time of year!
The build-up of pre-Christmas is even better than Christmas itself, unless you're Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon (but I think even they might enjoy the build-up better than the holiday itself). Christmas is inevitably a quick let-down of gift opening, followed by everyone hanging out watching their new DVDs or flipping through their new books while wearing their new slippers. But pre-Christmas is THE BEST PART: fortifying yourself with eggnog lattes while strolling around the shops, seeing things you'd like to get for gifts (but which you never get) and having no idea what to buy for your impossible-to-buy-for friends and family.
Note to anyone who has ever given toe-socks as a gift: STOP IT. You know how you hate the feeling of sock between your toes? EVERYBODY IN THE WORLD HATES THAT FEELING TOO. Please don't buy a gift of something that you know will only cause discomfort. Why is the toe-sock business so plentiful at Christmastime anyway?
Ahem. Anyway, here are some good ideas I've come up with gifts for those hard-to-buy-for people in your lives:
Donate to charity!
This is no longer a faceless, giftless piece of paper. Charities now have found ways to make donating feel a lot like shopping -- World Vision has a gift catalogue where you can buy people things like alpacas, school supplies, hens and chickens, etc. (*note: these items are sent to people in developing countries who need them, not to your hard-to-buy-for-friends).
Also check out the website for your local food bank - the one here has a similar set-up, where different amounts of donations are equated to specific gifts.
OK, gift cards are a) a really handy, thoughtful gift while somehow b) looking really crappy wrapped up. I like how stores like HMV have special gift-card boxes that look like DVD or CD boxes, so instead of just giving someone a card with a gift card inside, you can give them something tangible.
Even if the store you bought the giftcard doesn't put it in a box, you can re-use a box already sitting around your house - I think it would be hilarious and awesome to get a gift card for a shoe store in an empty shoe box, for instance. Seriously, gift cards. This is a great gift for me, because it's the gift of guilt-free shopping. It is literally the gift that keeps on giving!
"You see, Sally, a gift card in a box looks so much festive than a gift card in an envelope."
Send cards in the mail!
You know when people are like, "you really don't have to get me anything"? A lot of people really mean that, but I really REALLY REALLY like giving people stuff, so this is a good compromise.
Sending cards can be as cheap or as expensive as you want it to be... there are free ecards you can send (I luuurve the retro sarcastic ones from someecards and hipstercards) or you can buy a box set of cute cards and send them via snail-mail OR you can re-gift the cards you received last year, by crossing out the old message and sending it back.
This gets high marks for creativity and thrift, esp. if you regift the card to the same person who initially sent it to you - the card itself can be like a diary, showing year after years' worth of messages and updates from one another.
Does anybody really still do this? Doesn't Facebook do this for you? I guess the cheap way to do this is to do the printing/photocopying at work. Or do it via email. But does anybody use email anymore, besides old people?
Whatever, it's cheap.
OK, you can't *actually* give someone a library card as a gift because you need to show ID to get a library card. But you could do something like a little gift packet from the library with brochures outlining all of their free services, and a card application form along with some kind of homemade coupon being like, "For Christmas/Kwanzaa/Hanukkah this year, I'm giving you access to 1,000s of books, ebooks, downloadable audio, CDs and DVDs! And it never expires! Also, I'm a nerd!"
I think this would be a cute gift, like a gift card that keeps on giving. You could do it up awesome, too, by making a hollowed-out book carry case for the brochures and then they can also have the hollowed-out book to use for storing secret documents, etc., later on.
Purchase something from a local store!
Another fun option is to find a store in the city where your friend lives, special-order an item, and then have the store call your friend to be like, "Your special order has arrived!" and then you don't have to pay for shipping at all! (*Note: you could also ask the store to fill out a card for your friend, assuming the store sells cards, too)
If you're crafty, you can make stuff, too. I guess. For instance, in her gift-giving guide, Gwyneth Paltrow recommends these ridiculously expensive customized pillowcases. I bet crafty people could easily make their own for cheap! Buy cheap pillowcases, and then cut up fabric from the thrift store and BAM! You've out-GOOPed GOOP herself.
|OK, not gonna lie. The GOOP-recommended pillowcases are super-cute.|
...but you can probably DIY these for way cheaper than the ones she suggested.
When in doubt, go with something edible!
If they live in your same city? Make them cookies! If they live in another city, get a local bakery or store to set aside a giftie for them (as in #6).
Print out Facebook pictures for them!
If you're like me, then you have heaps of online photos but not lots of printed-out ones (OK, that's a total lie, I have heaps of printed out pictures ever since I learned how easy it is to do that). So, you could have pictures printed out and then frame them in a cute frame (the ones made for crafting at Michael's are super-cheap, as are frames at thrift stores) and that's a good giftie, too.
Send them an audiobook via iTunes!
This is also perfect for out-of-town friends, and you totally save on shipping because you aren't sending them anything physical! (*Note: that sounded dirtier than I meant) You can buy an awesomesauce audiobook like Tina Fey's Bossypants or Mindy Kaling's Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me (both read by their respective authors) and then your friend can enjoy the audiobook at their leisure!