It’s that time of year again. We are all making our lists and checking them twice to make sure we don’t forget anyone important when it comes to holiday gift giving.
But sometimes the people on our lists are just a little bit challenging to shop for.
I mean, when your kid has 4 different teachers do you buy them all gifts? Leave them off the list? And what about the nice neighbor that feeds your fish when you go on vacation? Do they need a gift this year? Oh, and we can’t forget the mandatory fun office white elephant exchange. What do we get when we have no idea who is taking the gift home? If your head is spinning trying to come up with fresh ideas for that never ending list of yours, let us help you out.
The Extended Family
In our family we tend to stop at the parents, siblings, and grandparents when it comes to our shopping lists. Aunts, uncles, and cousins add so many branches to the family tree we could go bankrupt trying to keep up.
But whether your family is smaller or you just feel the need to make sure everyone is included, it still gets challenging to ensure everyone gets a gift that makes them feel like you had just them in mind while shopping.
If you’re struggling to figure out the perfect gift for these people I’d start to think about giving experiences rather than gifts. This is one of the few times I think gift cards are ok for people you’re close to because you can give them the chance to experience something new.
Movie tickets, passes for sporting events, a gift card to try out the new rope course or Top Golf location near you, or even signing them up for an art class or new workout experience that you can do together means you get to not only give a gift they’ll love, but you get to spend time together when they redeem it later in the year!
My husband and I live in a large apartment complex with a ton of neighbors. Yet in the 8 months we have lived here so many people have come and gone that we haven’t gotten the chance to know anyone other than the downstairs neighbor.
Because of that, it made the “neighbor” part of our Christmas list awfully short. If you’re the same way, then it is ok to get a personal gift for your neighbor. You probably know their interests or hobbies. Something about them that stands apart.
Play that up!
They will appreciate the effort and you don’t have to break the bank getting a thoughtful gift. If you’re not as close to your neighbors but still want to do something or if you’re trying to cover an entire building in gifts it’s worth getting crafty. Baking cookies or creating hot chocolate jars will cover a lot of gift giving ground without having to come up with new ideas for every neighbor on the block.
Your Kids’ Teachers
If your kids are still in elementary school, there is a good chance they are working with one or two teachers a day opposed to the four to six teachers they will see in middle and high school.
Once the number of teachers a kid deals with starts to multiply it becomes a bit more stressful determining if Christmas presents are really need and what to do for those beloved educators.
Let your older children help you decide if they want to give gifts to their teachers because they may have teachers leaving a lasting impact that they want to thank. And to minimize your shopping list, it isn’t wrong to stick to the core subject teachers for the younger students if you want to keep some teachers on the nice list.
As a teacher I can tell you, while it certainly is the thought that counts, there is a such thing as too many “best teacher ever” coffee cups. If that was the route you wanted to go, why not look at finding a good local coffee house and getting a bag of their coffee that the teacher can enjoy every morning?
Or if crafting is your thing, help your child make the teacher an ornament that they can pull out every year. And check to see if they are register on a site that allows parents and peers to donate classroom supplies. Teachers pay out of pocket for so many things that even something simple for the class can make a big impact when it comes unexpectedly at the holidays.
Office Party Exchange
A few years ago my office did a Secret Santa. Each of us pulled a name and had a limit for spending.
Piece of cake!
I mean, we all worked together every day and knew the people quite well. Well, then the next year we had a new Chief and he decided that a white elephant exchange was a better idea. That way no one would get fussy about whose name they had drawn and who might have drawn their name. Don’t get me wrong. It was nice not to hear any whining from the guys who had to shop for the one coworker they didn’t like. But it sure became a challenge when we started to think about gifts that would be appropriate for everyone in the office.
If your office is doing a blind exchange it is important to keep in mind the demographic of the environment. Do not get super specific in your gifts hoping that the person you had in your head while shopping is going to pick the gift. Inevitably when you buy the overly girlie bathroom set it will be pulled by the ESPN loving coworker who wouldn’t be caught dead in a bubble bath.
Instead stick to more neutral gift ideas.
Wine classes and a good bottle of wine (or liquor) goes over well with most people. Travel mugs and a Starbucks card is a hard gift to get mad about receiving. Or how about games such as Apples-to-Apples (or Cards Against Humanity for the more humorous gift). Those are just a few ideas that can be appreciated no matter who is pulling your gift.