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Saturday, May 12, 2012

How to Make Gift-Giving Painless, For You & the Recipient!

Distraction & filing things away DO NOT MIX. Absentminded placement of items “for safekeeping”, only for the item never to be seen again, is a hallmark of this lifestyle. I cannot tell you how many times my grandmother has said to all of us over the years, “I bought a gift for you & put it away somewhere for safekeeping, but I can’t put my hands on it right now.“ But “right now“, unfortunately, usually never arrives. I have no idea what is meant for herself or for others in her home. And since she lives alone & rarely allows visitors, I have no idea why gifts that she buys would even need to be stored out of sight so often! Unfortunately, her Depression Era mentality encourages her to hide & hoard many things- but I know that she’s not alone in doing this.

Don’t buy gifts to tuck away “just in case”, without a specific recipient in mind. Chances are, they’ll either end up as things you end up keeping for yourself (which may or may not be a good thing- usually, it isn‘t), or you‘ll not be able to locate them amongst other things you‘ve set aside.

When you buy a card or a gift for someone, I suggest that you write up your card, and/or wrap & gift-tag your gift ASAP. Designate one spot, and one spot alone, for gifts to be stored until they‘re given. Don’t make this a spot that’s hard to get to, like a corner down in a dark basement. Keep it someplace as close to room temperature, dry & clean as possible. If you can’t mail or give the card that you’ve written out to the person it’s for immediately, then designate one file folder (preferably right on your desk, so you’ll not lose sight of it) or mail slot for it. I have a big bowl right at my front door, on an end table, that is set aside for outgoing mail alone. Each day, I know that anything I’ve placed there needs to go out to the mailbox. When you’re signing your card, also go ahead & address it, put your postage on it & seal it, if it’s going to be mailed. If it’s going along with a gift in person, attach the card to the gift, after putting the recipient’s name on the card.

My home office closet is my designated spot for gifts. I also stored my gift-wrap supplies in a container in there. To make life easy on myself, I use wrapping paper as little as possible. I have colored tissue paper, different-sized gift bags in both holiday & more generic (but pretty) designs, holiday tags & curling ribbon that goes w/ the tissue paper & bags. A roll of double-sided tape & a pair of scissors complete the container. I have a set of greeting cards on hand for every occasion- they sit at the front of my filing cabinet, in their own folder. Nothing excessive- just one or two cards on hand to give to others for birthdays, retirements, the passing of loved ones, new babies, etc. It’s easy enough to go out & buy these whenever you need one for someone specific, but having a small backup supply on hand is nice, especially if the occasion ends up happening suddenly & you’re ill, or too busy to get out to the store.

Remember that, especially in this tough economy, a Visa gift card, a check or plain cash can be as appreciated as an actual picked-out gift. Times have changed drastically, and most people aren’t offended at all if you didn’t pick out some personal item to give them. Many young couples, especially with kids, don’t need more stuff- they need money for rent or mortgage payments, groceries, gas for their cars & childcare. Don’t be afraid to ask someone (especially if they’re younger than you) if they would really prefer cash or a gift card to a specific store, rather than a picked-out gift. You may have the knack of picking out great gifts, and also enjoy doing it immensely. If so, feel free to disregard what I’m saying. But if it’s more of a headache than not, don’t be afraid to take on a new approach. Grocery stores usually sell gift cards these days, and their easy to pick up at the customer service center of the store, or even buy online. If you know that your recipient shops at a particular store all the time, and doesn’t have much money, such a gift card can be a real blessing to them.

Restaurant gift cards can make it possible for those strapped for cash to actually go out on a date with their significant other for once, or out for an evening with friends. Gift cards reduce the amount of gift wrap, tissue paper, curling ribbon, etc., that you need to use up. Thus, it actually ends up being better for the environment to get a gift card or give cash, and life is made easier on you, too. A restaurant gift card is an example, too, of a gift that is NOT going to be clutter for your recipient- and that, too, should be in your thoughts. I’m all for helping everyone minimize what they own down to what they love, use & need. There are very few items that I really need in life, but what I often need is time to myself- and so a bookstore gift card, theater tickets, a movie theater gift card or a restaurant gift card would mean more to me than most physical items do. Setting aside money for such things as going to movie, dinner or the theater is something a lot of people can often afford to do these days. And I know many people (especially women) feel the exact same way that I do- stressed & in need of some fun time! Salon or spa cards are another example of something that can be a tremendous blessing, as such services can be expensive, and are often dropped by women as a way to save cash. If you know the recipient is a hardworking soul who usually puts themselves last, a gift card to one of their favorite stores, salons or restaurants can have as much meaning as any hand-chosen gift ever could. Gift cards are still a way of acknowledging your loved one personally without getting them something that they may not need. Watch for clues as to what & where they could use these cards for.

There’s no need for secrecy with most people- talk openly with your family & friends about the gift-giving subject. If they don’t want to talk about it, then you can of course drop it. But many people will be grateful to have their true needs out on the table, and I hope that you will feel the same way. Some people are too afraid to tell their elders, especially, about what they really could use, because they don’t want to offend others. Let others off the hook by bringing up the subject yourself.

Happy gifting!





1 comment:

  1. Like the idea and all the info...very useful for me..thanks you share it.Gift Card envelopes.