Developing New Gift Ideas This Christmas Season

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You know you’re in a gift-giving rut when you accidentally buy the very same gift for someone two years in a row, as I recently did for a family member’s birthday. Fortunately I caught myself before sending it and could make a switch, but what I switched to wasn’t all that creative either. It got me thinking – am I too predictable with my Christmas gift-giving? And how can I develop new gift ideas for this Christmas season?

The answer to the first question is a resounding yes – but I am not overly predictable with everybody. In fact, I can be quite creative with my daughters’ or significant other’s gifts, but others get the usual sweater each year. Of course time and cost factor into each gift, but by starting now to think creatively and specifically of each person, and by keeping my eyes open for the unique and special, I know I can do better!

Here are five strategies that can make your gifts stand out this season, and give you a head start on your Christmas shopping:

  • Decide on a formula. Last year, I used a tried-and-true formula with a handmade twist for my kids. Something they want, something they need, something to wear, something to read, something to do, and something I made – it all added up to six quality gifts to open. I have to admit that was a lot harder for me to come up with some of these gift ideas than to just buy the same old things,, but I enjoyed the challenge, and they were delighted to be truly surprised on Christmas morning!
  • Brainstorm for each person. The key to being creative with gifts is having (and taking) the time to really think about each person, and their interests, hopes, likes and dislikes, before deciding on a gift. It is hard to do this in November and December, however, when time becomes an issue and you just need to find something to give everyone. Taking a day or two now to really think about each person, and to list their interests and gift ideas, will make your shopping much easier no matter when you start!
  • Experiment with new stores or sites. Part of why gift-giving becomes predictable is we fall back on the same “big box” stores or sites such as Amazon when time is an issue. Why not take treat yourself to a small business shopping excursion each month? Go to smaller boutiques or specialty shops in a nearby town, or check out curated lists of exceptional but lesser known shopping sites. You can see what’s out there that might delight someone on your list, while you get a head start on your Christmas shopping, too!
  • Don’t forget handmade gifts. Last year I had grand ideas to make something special for everyone in my immediate family. However, I waited too long to do anything substantial. Not wanting to give up that piece of my formula, though, I made small gift boxes with sweets, cocoa and a cute mug in each. It was not what I originally planned, but it was handmade-ish and still very much appreciated. Start now to think about what you could make yourself, check out Etsy or use the gift basket/box approach to up your creativity game this Christmas.
  • Consider gifts of time or experience. One way to get creative with Christmas giving is not to give “stuff” at all! I once gave my mother the gift of taking her to lunch at a different restaurant each month for a year. It ended up being a global culinary tour as we tried all types of cuisines, and it was lots of fun for me as well! Consider tickets to a show, a museum pass, an online course or a tour of some unique local feature. Try a service such as cleaning, yard work, babysitting or cooking. The only caveat with a gift like this, though, is to make sure you actually follow through with whatever you promise to do!

Now is the perfect time to start thinking creatively about your Christmas giving. Have fun and happy hunting!

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Dos and Don’ts of Early Christmas Shopping

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When spring arrives, everything winter goes on sale. And with those sales comes the possibility of finding deals on the perfect Christmas gifts for the upcoming season. It is worth trying, of course, because the special prices will help you stay within your Christmas budget, and potentially save lots of time in the fall.

But it isn’t always easy to make the most of early Christmas shopping. First, we aren’t always in the mood to think about Christmas just as it is getting warm outside and flowers are starting to bloom. Also, how do you know what your family and friends will even want next Christmas season? And of course there is the age-old problem of forgetting what you’ve bought or not liking what you chose for someone when you look at it six months later.

Make the most of early Christmas shopping.

Here are some dos and don’ts to make the most of early Christmas shopping:

Do make a point of browsing the sales racks whenever you shop, keeping family and friends in mind.

Don’t buy anything just because it is on sale. Make sure it is something that you would want to give as a gift.

Do add what ever you find to your gift list, so that you don’t forget what you’ve bought come fall.

Don’t store the gifts in such an obscure place that you forget where they are. Designate a corner of a closet, or high shelf away from prying eyes.

Do mark the gifts by recipient and store them in an airtight container if possible. This will prevent them from becoming dusty or damaged in some way.

Don’t limit yourself to sales items. When you are able, take the time to try a new store or a different department. You may not find early gifts, but you’ll like have some new ideas for family and friends.

Do remember to look for more little novelty items that can be used as hostess gifts, stocking stuffers, or workplace surprises.

With no time pressure, lots of sales, and of course new spring and summer inventory to look forward to, you can find the perfect gift and save time and money later. Just follow these dos and don’ts to make the most of your early Christmas shopping!

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