Give Like the Man in the Red Suit: Deliver Smiles for Miles! - A guide to practical gift giving
Where do you stand in your gift list? Let me make the disclaimer here for anyone sick and tired of hearing about gift-giving: I am a Quaker and as such, we do not recognize Christmas the way it is traditionally observed with the hoopla of gifts and tinsel and fanfare; however, I was not raised this way so as much as I shy away from heralding in the closing market bells, I am not immune. Unless you live far away from the social hive or live with rooted conviction supported by others, well, open your wallets and at least have some fun!
Ideally you have been stashing away funds throughout the year for the shopping bonanza, but if, like me, you have not learned to cache a few dollars here and there to avoid a big financial hit come December, fortunately for us the sales are a plenty!
Retailers, large and small, offer holiday savings on practically everything they sell. While it’s not as easy to do cross reference price-checking on small businesses, you can do it fairly simply for larger ones using two Apps: RedLaser and Price Check. These are both free Apps, available from iTunes, which can help you find the best price and create a history and a list of items that you have looked at.
Now as far as gift giving, this can be rough unless your child, spouse, family member or friend is an avid Barbie collector, fly fisher woman, Francophile, or JumpSport junkie! Also, some of us as consumers have a moral struggle when it comes to purchasing merchandise: where is it made? What are the factory conditions like for the workers, the environment? What is the longevity of the product? Will it ultimately end up feeding the landfill? Regardless if these questions circulate ‘round and ‘round your psyche, I have a collection of practical gift giving ideas that have a long shelf life, support healthy lifestyles and communities; they speak to every budget!
-There is nothing like new socks to add a spring to your step! A well received gift, guaranteed!
-Headlamps, reflective tape, bike lights, etc.
-Costco-Costco not only offers great prices and innovative products but maintains a solid commitment to its employees. Attrition rates of its employees are outstanding. Costco always seems like they stock something for everyone making it a practical gift giving one-stop shop! Support companies that treat its workers right and give the gift of phenomenal products, fitness and home essentials alike, at great prices; you can even find the JumpSport Fitness Trampoline at Costco online!
Places to go:
-Zoos, botanical gardens, State parks, art museums, social clubs, renewing a membership that you know a person will need in the future.
-Tennis, squash, horseback riding, knitting, archery, skeet shooting, pottery, broom-making, meditation, scrap-booking, etc...
-They are not expensive but they sure are engaging! Bring a family together even if only for a few minutes a day by giving the gift of a jigsaw puzzle. You can find one that illustrates their collective hobby or creed, you can personalize it with a photo and have one made, you can look for one that looks like your town or their home. It’s a fun and soothing activity that is collective. You may even instigate a tradition.
Stationary and Stamps:
-With letter writing on the decline and the USPS in peril, why not help buoy both institutions by purchasing a set of cards and some stamps. Practical gift giving at its best is simply writing a letter or heartfelt card to the ones you love; and maybe including a few extra stamps so they can share the sentiment with others. You can find very beautiful sets of cards at affordable prices and the stamps available at the post office are amazing. While I am a “forever stamp” girl, I do marvel at the variety of stamps under the plexiglass at the post office. From pitcher plants to scientists, poets to influential women, you can personalize the stamp to fit your friend’s personality.
-Beach towels, bath towels, even dish towels are opened with delight. Most of us keep towels forever, way beyond threadbare. They travel from the hall closet, to the beach bag, to the cleaning rags. A set of durable beach towels, quality bath towels (monogrammed perhaps) or a set of dish towels (flour sack or microfiber) are simple, but essential. You can check out catalogs as well as brick and mortar stores that specialize in overstock or out-of-season for superb deals.
-For recently donating to my local NPR station, I received a coffee press travel mug. I adore coffee and with this mug, I can have a fresh 16 ounces whenever I’m on the go. There is even “on-board” storage on the bottom of the mug for a second serving of ground coffee for another shot. You can find the Bodum coffee press travel mug at Amazon, or REI offers a similar cup. The cup can be used with loose tea and Yerba mate as well.
-A made in the USA, insulated cup that keeps your drink icy cold or piping hot. The world’s first “smart cup” comes in a myriad of designs from the Muppets to collegiate teams and more. I personally like the ones with lids and a straw for on the go sipping.
For the most part, a subscription to a magazine is a cost friendly gift that your friend will really like. There are so many ‘zines out there you can really hone in on his special interest. From poultry fanciers to digital photography, entertainment magazines to low-calorie cooking, the options are endless.
-Make several meals that can be put into the freezer. I love making tomato pies while we enjoy our bumper crops this time of year. People are thrilled to have one less thing to do during the day and greatly appreciate a home-cooked meal. Take into consideration any dietary restrictions, and you are good as gold!
Farmer’s Market Bucks aka Town Dollars:
-A lot of cities, towns and villages have farmer’s markets. You can get in touch with the organizing agency and find out if there are gift certificates available that can be used at all the vendors. That’s what I purchased for my dad and stepmother who are local retail advocates that live in Bellingham, Washington. Also, some towns have their own currency that can be used at local restaurants, retailers, parks and recreation. Find out if such a program exists.
An herb garden:
-Provide the herbs, the pretty pot, the soil, watering can, gardening gloves and let your gardener assemble on their own.
-Does your friend have a penchant for the desert? Design a little world for them to create using the same technique as the herb garden. It’s the gift that keeps on giving! Print out some information for keeping terrariums including online clubs or chat rooms so your friend can have questions answered.
-Bring the “world of sprouting” to your family or your friends. Sprouts are easy to grow and offer live nutrition you can harvest in your kitchen. Try a variety of sprouts from radish to buckwheat to my personal favorite, sunflower sprouts. It’s inexpensive, super healthy and a lot of fun to watch the growing process. Check out: www.sproutman.com
So, there you have it, a blog of gift ideas. Keep these gifts in mind for birthdays, anniversaries, or other occasions where a gift is appropriate. You can make up your budget and stay within it no problem. I have to disagree with my grandmother’s adage that “you give until it hurts”. There are plenty of options out there to give without hurting yourself with buyer’s remorse or January financial woes. When all is said and done, the season offers us an opportunity to take mental snapshots of our lives. With traditional markers in the background or forefront, we can, with more clarity than at other times of the year, look back and remember our lives and those we shared them with. It is the collection of memories and the making of memories that is the Season’s ultimate gift.
Do you have ideas to add to this list? What do you give or not give? What sort of traditions do you have or wish to create? Please share your holiday strategies, customs, and gift ideas at the JumpSport blog ,the JumpSport Fitness Trampoline™ FaceBook page: www.facebook.com/FitnessTrampoline, or Twitter @FitTrampoline.
Heidi Aspen Lauckhardt-Rhoades
Professional Fitness Instructor, ACE, AFFA, TRX, IndoBoard, PIA, GROOVE
Writer and Social Media Correspondent
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