My stress-less guide to Christmas gift giving

Without a doubt, one of the best parts of presents is the gifts. I’m actually the sort of person who likes giving presents even more than I like receiving them. I adore watching my family and friends open their Christmas gifts. However, it can be easy to get caught up in the stress of deciding who to buy for, trying to come up with unique gift ideas and budgeting for your Christmas haul. The actual process of Christmas shopping can also be mighty stressful, as you brave the crowds in search of thoughtful gifts but come home with nothing but a thumping headache and a bucketload of grouchiness. I’ve come up with a number of suggestions for making your Christmas shopping less of a hassle.

– Limit the number of people you buy presents for. It can be really difficult to think up gifts for a laundry list of family members and friends. Try to keep your gift list short. Think about whether there are any people that you normally buy for who could really be left off the list. Talk to some of your close friends or siblings and agree not to buy one another gifts. Give the gift of freeing somebody of the stress of thinking up a gift for you. Perhaps you could arrange a secret Santa amongst your family members, so you only have to buy one gift.

– Rather than trying to find a ‘thing’ to buy each person on your list, consider giving them an experience instead. Take your mother on a horse and buggy ride. Pack a picnic lunch and take a hike with your partner. Pay for opera classes for your sister. Not only will you be giving them a skill or memory that they’ll treasure, you’ll also be saving them the trouble of finding somewhere to store a physical gift.

– Do you have a special talent or service that you can offer? Why not give people home-made vouchers as presents? Offer to organize their photo albums, give them manicures or massages, landscape their lawn or cook them a gourmet dinner.

– Food is always a welcome gift. Flex your culinary muscles and whip up a delicious batch of candy, cookies or cake to hand out to your loved ones. Homemade jams and preserves are also a great gift.

– If you really can’t think of what to give somebody, consider giving a gift voucher. Gift vouchers have a bit of a bad reputation as an impersonal or last-minute gift, but if you do it right, they can actually make the perfect present. Don’t choose a general gift card, which can be used at a wide variety of stores. Although it gives the person a lot of options, it smacks of impersonality. Instead, buy a voucher from a store that you know the person adores. You could also buy a voucher for something specific, like a facial or yoga classes. If you know that there’s something in particular that the person has been lusting after, you could buy a voucher and include a card that says, “This is for you to use to buy the coat of your dreams”. That way, they can choose for themselves, but it shows that you’ve put some thought towards the gift.

– Personally, I don’t believe that all gifts have to be brand new. Some people turn up their noses at the idea of giving pre-loved goods as presents, but I disagree. Scour op-shops and markets for creative jewellery, ornate books and amazing scarves to use as gifts. Your vintage-loving or environmentally-conscious friends will love these.

– Give the gift of memories. A framed photo or a written account of a special memory you have of the recipient is a wonderful gift that is likely to be cherished.

– Rather than giving a single present, why not buy lots of little things with a theme? For my housemates last birthday, I bought her a bunch of little Alice In Wonderland themed goodies. There was a pocket watch, an enamel rose ring, earrings shaped like teacups and a little rabbit. I put them all in a gift box filled with playing cards. Choose items that go together to create a more meaningful gift.

– Opt out of your office Kris Kringle. Sure, some people might think it’s Grinchy of you not to participate, but do you really want the stress of having to buy a present for someone you never talk to except when you cross paths in the office bathroom? Do you really want the crappy gift you’re pretty much guaranteed to get in return? Take the money you would have spent on that token gift and put it towards a gift for someone who means the world to you, or else donate it to charity.

– Buy your friends an electronic gift, such as an e-book or podcast series. Once again, they don’t have to worry about finding a place to store it, and they will probably get heaps of enjoyment out of it. They’re usually a damn sight cheaper than paper books too. If you’re looking for something for a fashion-conscious friend, why not buy my Guide To Developing Your Personal Style? Your vintage-loving sister is sure to love Nessbow’s Guide To Second Hand Shopping. They each cost just $5.

These are just a few ways for you to simplify your gift-giving and change the way you think about giving presents. If you want some more gift giving ideas, check out these gift guides I wrote last Christmas. There’s one for your parents, your siblingsyour significant other, your friends andpeople you barely know.

Do you have any ideas for paring down your gift-giving this Christmas?

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