Unique Gifts

The top 10 for this season

By Marty Hopkins

It's never too early to be thinking about upcoming holidays. With early planning you can control your spending and still give thoughtful, cherished gifts. Don't be stressed out with the pressure to buy just the right gift for everyone on your holiday shopping list. Consider simplifying your shopping with these 10 easy gift ideas:

  1. A donation to the person's favorite charity. "In honor of" gifts are a great way to recognize your friends. You can always find a funny gift to wrap for under $5 to go with the gift recognition card.
  1. The gift of time. Print a certificate redeemable for a chore your friend hates - for example, four hours of personal shopping, two hours of housecleaning, or three hours of babysitting.
  2. A gift you can eat. Give homemade food (with the recipe). Perhaps your friend has always raved about your homemade cheese ball. Be sure to give it in time for the person to share it at the holidays.
  3. A favorite photo for your family. You can enlarge a picture from your family reunion or other special occasion and put it in a nice gift frame, or put a 4X6 picture in a magnetic photo frame for the refrigerator.
  4. A gift for staying in touch. It's often hard to find appropriate gifts for the elderly, but Aunt Martha probably doesn't need any more socks or slippers. Give a box of all occasion greeting cards, two books of first class stamps, and return address labels. This saves her a trip to the post office and the card shop.
  5. Something personal and fun. Give a CD or book, looking for something just a little different than what the person would normally buy. Or, find one that is appropriate for the holiday that can be enjoyed immediately.
  6. A pampering gift. Give a massage or manicure / pedicure appointment. It's great to have a self-indulgence gift to look forward to.
  7. Give a night out. Tickets for a concert or special movie - or even regular movie tickets - will encourage the person to do something fun after the hectic season.
  8. A gourmet gift. Give a gift certificate to your friend's favorite restaurant. This is a great treat for the post-holiday leftover blues.
  9. A gift for getting away. Give a weekend getaway, and if you really want to splurge, purchase a weekend for two at a cozy cabin in the mountains.

Resolve to shop throughout the year while on vacation, at craft fairs, or even at the mall. When you see something that reminds you of a friend or family member, buy it then! Keep a list of the gifts you've purchased throughout the year and stash them in an easy-to-remember place.

It's always better to give than to receive, but if you want to help your family and friends get you a unique gift for your next birthday or holiday, consider setting up a personal gift registry. Many websites allow users to create a registry for free, and these can simply be personal wish lists as opposed to event-specific requests. You can even create your own categories for some of the unique gifts listed above. This is a great way to relieve take the gift-giving stress off of your family and friends while also ensuring you get things you want or need.

Enjoy the holidays with a little less stress. As American novelist Charles Dudley Warner said, "The excellence of a gift lies in its appropriateness rather than in its value."