At this time of year, when the pressure from retailers to buy 'the perfect, happiness giving, gift' is at its greatest, and there is seemingly more choice than ever, how can we pick gifts that delight the Soul and yet don't break the bank, whilst minimising the pressure? Perhaps it's useful to keep in mind two old clichés! 'The best things in life are free' and 'It's the thought that counts'! With this in mind, here are a few suggestions to help inspire your gift giving:
Make your present list and stick to it! - It's much easier to feel in control of your buying if you have a complete list of people to buy for. You can then feel you are getting somewhere as you tick people off. Otherwise it can feel like an exhaustive process with no end. Try to be clear about who you really want to buy for and resist adding people if the word 'should' is involved! Once you have bought for someone, don't be tempted to buy something else instead if you see something more interesting. Store the idea for another time!
Cost - Remember that expensive gifts are not necessarily better than more affordable ones. It's the thought that counts and when January comes the reality of 'over buying' can be more painful that it was worth!
Value - My experience presenting at QVC made me realise that 'value' is a very subjective term. It is a rare combination of the quality you want, with an agreeable price attached to it. When Christmas shopping it is easy to be fooled into someone else's idea of "good value" and buying items that you may have otherwise not because they are too good not to! The goal is to give something that is in line with your budget, whilst still being able to deliver the desired pleasure to the receiver. It's not the monetary value that matters; it's the thought and how it makes the recipient feel.
Quality vs. quantity - There are some people on the list that will appreciate a smaller gift of higher quality. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that because something looks small, you need to add to it to make it look more.
Research - If you're short of time, go online to find what you want to buy. It can be a great source of inspiration if you browse through some sites to get ideas - you could even order it!
Theming - Use a 'theme' e.g. 'Music' to help make your choices, then buy everyone something to do with that theme e.g. a CD, DAB radio, concert tickets or headphones.
Shop at the best time - Choose a time to go shopping that works for you, where you aren't rushed or tired after work or leaving everything until the last minute. If possible, take a day off where you can focus. Treat yourself to coffee and a cake whilst out to enjoy the experience! Or jump on the computer and browse with a glass of wine in hand if heading to the shops just isn't for you or taking a day off isn't an option!
Gifts that make people 'feel' are usually the most successful. Make sure whatever you buy is chosen with love, however small. Buy from your heart and the chances are it will touch the recipient's too:
- Use the five senses to inspire your choice, whether this is a luxuriously soft scarf or a favourite scented candle. Our senses are the gateway to our feelings and our feelings are the language of our Soul, so this will ensure your gift will evoke an emotional reaction.
- Think of shared memories or specific times you've spent or places you have been with that person, so your choice is personal to them.
- Create a photographic book. Many retailers do professional ones you can upload your photographs to; or, if you are crafty, buy an album and make your own, full of special moments you've shared throughout the year.
- An experience is something you never forget and becomes an integral part of who you are e.g. a lesson in something they've always wanted to do, such as cooking, music, painting, singing, photography, a pamper treat, or theatre tickets.
- Give the gift of time and make your own voucher to do something with or for someone. Take them to the zoo, out for lunch or even cook them dinner at home. Giving someone your time surely has to be one of the most special things ever to give and receive.
- Fill a box or stocking with someone's favourite things, ranging from food and drink to beauty gifts and films. This is a wonderful way to show you care and know them.
- Give someone your all time favourite books or films to share what you love with them.
- A gift that lasts all year, in the form of a weekly or monthly magazine subscription, about an interest of theirs, is truly enjoyable. For example, membership to the National Trust or English Heritage or a subscription to the British Film Institute or Netflix. You could deliver your own subscription to them! Hand-deliver their favourite magazine, flowers or bottles of wine each month.
- Go into your community and buy all your gifts from local artists and craftsmen. You'll be championing and supporting the artistic endeavour of others and giving a unique gift.
Finally, use Christmas to express how you feel about someone when you write your message or card. So often we have heard the most beautiful and true things said about a person when they are sadly no longer here to hear it. Sometimes it's difficult to find the right time, the place or the words to express how we feel about someone, but don't wait until it's too late. Maybe Christmas is the perfect opportunity! Heal that rift. Say it while you can and put the 'Happy' back into Christmas.