The holidays can be some of the best times of the year, and a tremendous way to close the calendar, so long as you don’t allow the stresses that come with too much family, food, and gift giving to fill you with unnecessary and unwanted anxiety.
Most holiday stress originates from gift giving, which feels all too frequent by the end of the year. When you have a lot of family and friends, almost no budget seems big enough to amply satisfy everyone.
But who wants to spend the first half of the following year paying off presents?
Big-ticket items are at the top of everyone’s list – iPods, iPads, and this year, the new Kindle Fire. But big doesn’t necessarily mean better. You can give a gift that’s meaningful, without breaking the bank.
Here are 7 small gifts that will make a big impact this year.
1. Gift certificates. Sure, gift cards may seem boring or even cliché, but they make a great gift, as long as you buy them with intent. Don’t just grab any old gift cards from the display while you’re waiting at the check out line. Get a gift card your recipient will love, but would never buy for themselves, can serve as the perfect gift. The dollar amount doesn’t need to be big, it just needs to be from somewhere your recipient will actually love.
2. Any item that represents a specific memory. Perhaps an artifact from your first date or an early encounter with your significant other, a photo in a nice frame, or even a coupon for a home cooked meal with a favorite shared dish. You can’t buy time or memories, but you can spend a modest amount to represent what you already have.
3. Ornaments. The magic of Christmas ornaments is that they make a grand return to the family Christmas tree, year after year. Ornaments are a gift that will keep giving, reintroducing your present into memory with every passing Christmas. Your gift ornament can be store-bought one or, even better, homemade. Either way, ornaments are generally inexpensive, and always thoughtful.
4. Music. Rather than buying a $10-$15 commercial CD, why not take an hour or two of your time and create a custom mix for someone you love? Of course, different people enjoy different types of music, so you may not be able to make a single mix to satisfy every recipient on your list. Yet, it’s the time and thought required to make the CD that makes this gift so wonderful. Mix CD’s work best when they follow a theme, so rather than simply burning a CD of random songs by random bands, arrange them in a way that is meaningful to the person you’re giving the CD to.
5. Books. There are few store bought presents that are as personal as a well chosen book. Like music, you won’t buy the same books for everyone on your list. To be truly meaningful, each book must be tailored to a specific reader. Your cousin probably won’t like the same book as your grandma, but that’s okay. Hit Amazon and fill your list. You could probably get a great book for everyone on your list and spend an average price of $10, or even less. If your reader has a Kindle, you can download an eBook instantly and send it to their Kindle via e-mail.
6. Games. Who doesn’t like to play games? If you have children on your gift list; sons, daughters, nieces, or nephews, then you can’t go wrong with a great game. Stay away from overpriced video games, especially those shy on problem solving or social interaction. Choose a classic board game that will help the child develop critical thinking skills while stimulating imagination. Board games are a great, inexpensive gift, but even better, creating memories while playing is easy.
7. Movies. Arguably the best bang for the buck on the list. A good movie is something that can be enjoyed over and over again. Like books and movies, tailor your film selections to the individuals on your list. With thousands upon thousands of available DVDs, many at ridiculously low prices, finding what you want, from family favorites to the newest releases, is as easy as a point and click away.
The holidays are a fun and festive time, as long as you don’t let the stresses get to you, especially the anxieties which come from holiday gift giving. This year, rather than spending money you don’t have, give a small gift that really matters, and will actually be remembered.