‘Tis the season to wrack my brains for holiday gifts ideas.  When it comes to giving that perfect something to that perfect someone, I am neither creative nor crafty which makes me feel rather inferior to the bakers, scrapbookers, knitters, basket weavers and photogs. 

A fair warning to my future friends and loved ones:  You will never receive anything from me “Made with Love”.  Bought with Delight?  Yes.  Purchased with Pride?  Absolutely.  Overspent with Honor?  You betcha!

Compounding my predicament is the fact that I will only buy gift cards as a last resort.  Call it a pet peeve of mine but this gift card explosion has become rather irritating.  I realize my disdain is completely irrational because I really like receiving gift cards, especially to restaurants. Everyone likes gift cards.  But I feel guilty about buying them because it is just too easy.  If I am obligated like you enough to buy you a holiday present, then darn it, picking something personal out is going to take the time and energy necessary for my husband to have me committed you deserve.

In all seriousness, gift giving this year requires a little more thought from all of us.  No one is terribly optimistic about the economy and most folks I know are tightening their belts out of necessity or fear of future necessity, yours truly included.  So, in that spirit, I am calling on all MoB readers to submit their best, most creative holiday gift ideas that are inexpensive, thoughtful, easy, and have been actually proven to put a smile on the recipient’s face.

Here are a few of my winners, not terribly original i.e. you have probably heard them before but they work well and make me feel good:

For the Kiddos: Top Chef Night – For Hanukah people, this idea can count for one of the eight crazy nights.  For Christmas folks, a coupon for this event is a great stocking stuffer or suitable for an “under the tree” present.  Buy a family cookbook or use something that you already have.  Ask the kids to select the entrée and dessert.  Break up into teams (recommended for siblings) and have each child be responsible for one item.  Go to the market that very night as a family, buy ingredients and everyone cook and eat together.  We started this tradition last year and the brothers are already asking if we can do it again.

For the Extended Family:  Dollar Store Pollyanna’s – The adults in my extended family stopped exchanging one-to-one gifts years ago, opting to draw names for a Pollyanna swap.  A fifty dollar limit was set (and consistently broken).  Gift cards became the norm. This year we have made the limit $5 – no exceptions.  Thoughtfulness and creativity will be required and more fun (I believe) will be had in shopping and exchanging.

For Anyone:  Magazine Subscriptions – True the magazine industry is in dire straits but there still exists a publication for just about everyone.  I usually buy and wrap the latest issue off the newsstand, first tearing out the subscription card inside and sending it off.  With the exception of the weekly entertainment magazines which cost a sculpted arm and cellulite-free leg, you can get a year’s subscription for $20-30 dollars.  My Dad, who is the hardest person to shop for, loves that I get him Consumer Reports each year.  Just be prepared to get inundated with renewal notices two weeks after the subscription begins.

So, what do you have for us gentle readers?  Leave us a comment, telling us what has worked and for whom.  Or if you have had a terrible experience with a certain gift item, warn us before it is too late!

We are counting on you.

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