Here are a few ideas on how to say more with less.
If you’re dubious about investing in the tradition of inexpensive presents, take a moment to think about the custom of exchanging gifts. It’s-the-thought-that-count-isms aside, it has very little to do with the accumulation of material goods. If that were the case we’d simply exchange money and direct our loved ones to their favorite consumer markets. No, we exchange gifts because they are tokens of our appreciation for one another. And what better way than to give your loved one a gift that commemorates your relationship — something that gives tribute to a time you’ve spent together or a special secret you share?
What about a purple butterfly reminiscent of a certain childhood Halloween costume or a framed landscape in memory of your trip to the Grand Canyon? Photo-collages and scrap books are wonderful ways to create gifts that make your sincerity and thoughtfulness unmistakable. Another way to acknowledge your bond is to pay tribute to shared interests. If you know you and your neighbor harbor a secret love of painting, give him some paints and a canvas, or paint him a first draft of a masterpiece and suggest that you start a tradition of sharing your works. Or give a co-worker and fellow hiking-enthusiast a collection of brochures on nearby hiking sites you’d be willing to try together. Memories, inside jokes and shared interests are all excellent tributes to your relationships with people. And if you think about it, you’ll find you share those in common with old friends and family as well as those friends you’ve recently met — it doesn’t take long to accumulate commonalities. Even if you can’t resist investing some cold hard cash in your gift exchange, try sticking to specific ideas that honor your relationships — those are the gifts that will be remembered for years to come.
Knowledge is Appreciation
People ache to be understood and appreciated for who they are. While gift baskets and gift cards say “I acknowledge we’re friends,” with a little more thought (and often less money) you can say “I’ve been paying attention and appreciate you for the unique person you are.” Think about the giftee and find a way to acknowledge his or her interests, needs, habits or innate talents. Has she mentioned that she’s always wanted to go to France, or has he shown a knack for picking up languages? Grab a language book or set of CDs at a garage sale or on eBay, and include a card describing your observations. Chances are you’re friend will be delighted to add fuel to her dream or flattered that you recognized his aptitude. There are countless other ways to show that you know a person. If your brother is always losing his keys, make him a key rack or find an over sized key ring. A friend who’s always low on meter money might appreciate a trove of quarters for her car. Your gift may only be a token, but it shows that you care enough to really see the people you care about, which is really why we bother giving gifts at all.
Sponsor a retreat
You may wish you could give everyone on your list a weekend spa retreat, but what if you could give the equivalent on a budget? Instead of sending her to La Bellisima, give your friend or family member a more realistic gesture that still says you believe they deserve a break. Give them a gift certificate to watch their kids or pets for an afternoon or a few days (and make sure to let them know how much notice you need so you can make good on your promise). Including a small gift pack can help facilitate much-needed mini-vacations; try coloring books, DVDs or games for the kids or treats and toys for the pets. If there aren’t any dependants of the standard or four-legged variety, let them know that they should get away — you’d be happy to take care of the mail and the plants — or, if the relationship is close enough, offer a 30-minute massage or mini-pedicure at their convenience.
There are many versions of vacation, just as there are many ways to package your appreciation for your loved ones. Don’t ever feel confined by the limitations of Macy’s, or of your bank account. In the end, it’s your thoughtfulness that will be appreciated, not your shopping bankroll, and you have more than enough of that to spare.
Have a wonderful day all,