We all know it is coming. I was in the store today and walked into it head on. The Christmas items are going on the shelves and I have not even carved the Jack-O-Lantern yet. I am going to say though, with two kids in school now and an assortment of activities going on, I am grateful that the holiday fare is going up so soon. It give more time to think, and plan, and buy a little at a time. I went ahead and grabbed up the $1 holiday shape cookie cutters today while getting the Halloween ones too, just to feel like I was getting ahead of the game for a change. However, with the holidays coming, we all know that sinking feeling, what to buy the people that we care about that we really don’t know that well. We all know this feeling, from co-workers, kid’s teachers, the postman, neighbors, all these people that we have friendly relationships with that we feel we should be doing something for. Add to that, the strain on a wallet at this time of year and the task can seem nearly impossible. Sure, there are some people that etiquette dictates we can just give a little extra holiday tip to, such as our hairdresser. However, I always feel goofy just giving them cash, like I didn’t even think about it before hand. So, here is a not so all inclusive list of ideas that can be used, adjusted, or provide further inspiration.
- 1.) Neighbors, staff at frequented establishments such as doctor’s office, school support staff etc.: We all know that feeling when we are wrapping gifts at after midnight and run out of wrapping paper, name tags, or tape. It stinks. So spread a little holiday cheer along your errands by picking up a few extra rolls, a few extra packages of bows and name tags, and a few of the multi-packs of tape. Use a pretty ribbon to attach the card and tape, name tags and bows to the roll of wrapping paper and play Santa Clause. You will be surprised how happy people get.
- 2.) Your kid’s classmates: Once upon a time, kids could take candy canes, homemade baked goods or other sweet treats to school to give to classmates for Christmas. Now that will not fly in most classrooms as many students suffer from food allergies and sensitivities or are on restrictive diets. So, this is the place for creative mommy. Kids love to give stuff to their friends and it is possible to gift a whole classroom without breaking the bank. For younger kids, I would recommend whipping up a few batches of homemade play dough, red and green of course, and giving each child a container wrapped up pretty. You could also raid the dollar store Christmas isle, buying a few items each week and put together treat bags for the whole class with nifty stuff like Christmas pencils, stickers and mini-notebooks. This idea would even work with the older kids as well. The Dollar Tree also sells Ear Buds for their trademark $1 price tag which would help out a lot of kids that go through these things like a knife through butter.
- 3.) Your kid’s teacher: There is no one in the world that deserves a thoughtful gift basket like a teacher. However, many of the pre-made baskets available at this time of year include very personal items such as bath products. That may not be the best route to go, so you can make your own. You can include classroom items as well as personal items, blending the homemade with the store bought. Acrylic cups are very popular and you can fill one with colored pencils, pens, or crayons and tie a ribbon on to add a personal touch. Build a tower on top of a ream or two of copy paper and include a holiday snack, hand sanitizer in a holiday scent, disinfecting wipes, sticky notes, or other goodies. All this can then be wrapped up in a clear gift basket bag from the dollar store and secured with holiday ribbon.
- 4.) Co-Workers: While some offices organize a gift giving exercise, others have a free for all. However, one thing you can count on is never knowing what to buy. So, try office supplies, just make it pretty. You can get a small organizer in the craft department, the kind meant for beads and other small items. Each section can be filled with colorful paper clips, decorative binder clips, mini sticky notes, extra erasers, rubber bands, and other small items such as single serving sizes or travel sizes of antacids, pain relievers, breath mints, even a needle and thread, all those little items that you need during the day but never have on hand. Then use this as a base to build a gift basket, you can include a holiday ornament and snack with a holiday cup or mug holding gel pens or mechanical pencils. Wrapped up in a gift basket bag and tied with a holiday ribbon, this is the gift that keeps on giving year round.
- 5.) The forgotten ones, i.e. the postman, the garbage man, the librarians that help you every week or so when you are searching for something, the bag boy that helps you with getting your groceries in your car, everyone has these people in their lives that make a difference but blend into the background. These are the challenge because you rarely have personal knowledge of their likes and dislikes and their personal situations can vary greatly. It is in these cases that I recommend keeping a small stash of gift cards in small amounts for places like Red Box, fast food restaurants, or big chain retailers with nice holiday cards. You could also try handmade ornament gift bags with a few ornaments wrapped up in a pretty presentation and maybe a homemade snack to go with it. If they have a job that keeps them out in the weather, such as the postman, maybe a pair of gloves.
While this is not a perfect fit for everyone, perhaps it will provide inspiration to get you in the holiday cheer mood to come up with something that will work well for you and your family.