Every year, Christmas seems to sneak up on us. Suddenly it’s the middle of December and just the thought of Christmas shopping triggers a stress response. Sound familiar? You could agree with your loved ones not to buy each other any presents this year. Or suggest to your family and friends that you put everyone’s name on a piece of paper, throw it into a hat and everyone draws the name of a person to buy a present for. That saves time and nerves – and the Christmas season is stressful enough as is. Voilà, my first last-minute gift ideas! But if that really was it, then my blog post would be too short. So I’ve got a few more ideas up my sleeve. For those of you who enjoy giving, but occasionally find yourself under pressure in the end.
White Elephant Gift Exchange
We’ve all been given presents where we thought: “Oh my God, who’s got such bad taste!” Me? Or: Why would anyone get the crazy idea of giving me such an ugly coffee set? And it doesn’t even fit in my apartment! Why did I get this patterned pseudo satin bed linen? Or this pair of shoes that I wouldn’t be caught dead in? The answer that unavoidably comes to mind: he/she simply didn’t give it a second thought. Well, okay… tastes do differ…
To avoid such embarrassing situations, there’s the brilliant game of the White Elephant Gift Exchange. In this version of Secret Santa, people deliberately choose presents that they would never want themselves or that have been lying around collecting dust in a box someplace at home. You’ve gotta try it – it’s fun! A how-to can be found online.
Gifts you can eat
For those of us who love to cook or eat or who have friends that have fallen victim to the foodie trend, specialties from the kitchen always go down well. The repertoire is sheer endless. Homemade spice mixtures, for example, or flavoured salts make for perfect gifts. And they look so good in the glass that you can do without the gift wrapping. A pretty little ribbon and presto: the gift is ready to go. Homemade chutneys or savoury pâtés are also a hit. You made your preserves after the autumn harvest, so it’s no hard work to dig them out of the larder at Christmas. Just slap on a stylish label and a little glitter – and the bottled vegetables look first-rate.
Store-bought delicacies from the delicatessen also make a valid gift and go down at least as well. Depending on what the recipient likes you could give champagne, fancy chocolates, exotic spices, exquisite teas, specialty roast coffee, premium salad oils… the possibilities are endless. So how about it? Was there something useful there for you?
Giving the gift of time
Aren’t we all working on cleaning out our homes and downsizing our lives? Shouldn’t we be trying to make do with less? Instead of coming with the umpteenth useless gift – after all, we already have everything we need, don’t we? – it’s always nice to take some time for your loved ones and do something together. A walk or hike followed by lunch, a cosy afternoon tea with your best girlfriend at a luxury hotel, a brunch invitation for your friend from work or just setting off with your sister and seeing where you end up. But beware! If you give a coupon for quality time together, it should be redeemed within one year. Otherwise it’ll end up forgotten. Always good are coupons for two in a gourmet restaurant, special breakfast location or spa oasis.
My tip for next year: Make a note of special wishes when they pop up and do your Christmas shopping in November. Or buy things that you think would make good presents for your loved ones the moment you see them – no matter what time of year. While on holiday, for example, during a stroll through town or the next time you’re shopping online. Hoard your booty in a special box so you don’t forget. That makes for a fantastic treasure from which to draw for any occasion. And it saves time and nerves.
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