Sure the thought counts, but the gift itself matters, too. Some gifts present a clear and present danger when bestowed upon a spouse and should be avoided at all costs. Here are 10 gifts that could be hazardous to your marriage:
2. Sexy underwear (or anything else you’re dying to see them in ). Nothing says “It’s all about me” more than gifting something that makes you happier than the recipient.
3. Exercise equipment. This category includes gym memberships and healthy-eating cookbooks. Unless you are providing something they specifically requested, your well-intentioned gift may not be well-received!
4. Home improvements. Even if one spouse has been wanting a bigger bathroom or modernized cabinets, making the project “a gift” sets up the recipient to be responsible for any mishaps or frustrations that might be part of the process. (Just because it doesn’t make a great gift, doesn’t mean you can’t still use the big home-improvement announcement to earn additional spousal-brownie-points!)
5. Gift card. Think about it – how different is that from just handing your spouse some cash and telling them to go buy their own gift? Well, there is one difference – you are now dictating exactly where they must buy their own gift from.
6. Anything on your own wish list. See #2, above.
7. Perfume or cologne they’ve never worn before. First of all, there may be a reason they’ve never worn it. Second, what it smells like on the paper tester isn’t necessarily what it’s going to smell like on someone’s body. Unless indicated otherwise, assume your spouse wants some say about how they smell.
8. That item you have both been planning and saving for. Do NOT “surprise” your spouse by making the final decision on the vacation you have been debating for the last few months or picking the recliner that will sit for years to come in the living room. And examine the reasons you would even want to – is it intended to delight, or put an end to a discussion you are tired of having? If you immediately responded: “to delight, of course,” you need to realize that might not be the same conclusion your spouse reaches.
9. Nothing. Even if that is what they ask for. Gift-giving is about putting yourself out there to do something kind for the one you love. “Nothing” does not serve that goal. Nor does it honor your mate. “Something” does not have to be expensive, extravagant, or even wrap-able. It just has to be a little more thoughtful than “nothing.”
10. Anything that comes with payments. Yes, this is worse than nothing. It is the exact opposite of “the gift that keeps on giving.” It is the gift that keeps depleting. No gift should come with a bill.
Are you trying to come up with a gift idea for your husband or wife that is truly special? Something that says: you are so incredible that you deserve this one-of-a-kind gift, something that’s been created just for you! As a spouse, you are in the unique position of being the one who can take one of your spouse’s precious memories and make it come to life!
To generate some ideas about what memory may be gift-worthy, ask yourself these questions:
If you’re memory-gift consists of a single precious item, you’re ready for Step 2. If, however, your memory is an event, place, or loved one, you have a little gathering to do. If your spouse has some mementos collected, you’re off and running. Let me give you an example. My husband had been on his high school’s President’s Physical Fitness Team and on their second trip to compete in the finals in Washington, D.C., they took first place in the nation. Having trained rigorously with his teammates for three years, he had formed some special friendships and memories – including a parade given in his hometown in honor of the team. A corresponding scrapbook had been stowed away with his medals for years. I mean, where do you put such things 20 years after the fact? Yet they were too special to just discard, and running across them every once in a while made him smile. Always up for finding ways to keep that smile going, I pilfered the scrapbook* for some of the yellowed newspaper articles, found some team photos, added the medals to the mix and arranged them all in a shadowbox I had purchased at a hobby store. It did, indeed, put a huge smile on his face when he opened his gift, and it looks quite nice hanging in his computer room. Not to mention the satisfaction I received from presenting him with something that he was finally unable to guess prior to opening!
Photos will work for all the categories that aren’t a particular item. You might want to check with your spouse’s friends or family members who might have pictures of the event that they can contribute or copy for your project. Memorabilia and souvenirs are great additions to recreate the memory of events and places. But don’t despair if such items were not thoughtfully retained by your spouse for your use here. There are many ways to put together a meaningful collection or supplement any existing picture and memorabilia. Here’s some suggestions:
For an event: Check out the internet for pictures of where it took place, quotes that can be printed out that compliment the experience (childhood, friendship, adventure, etc.), and pictures of tickets, programs, articles, or write-ups regarding the event. You might find trinkets that correlate at a craft or hobby store – things like a miniature representation of the school mascot or a miniature rocking chair. Most craft stores have a whole section dedicated to miniatures-almost-anything-you-can-think-of!
For a place: In addition to the event suggestions, look for things like postcards, travel brochures, maps, drink or food recipe cards, and pictures or small objects that represent the culture.
For a missed loved one: A picture of a meaningful place or shared interest, lyrics to a song, a poem or quote about the type of relationship, an object that belonged to the person or pet, a miniature object which represents an activity they did together (tennis rackets, movie popcorn container, playing cards, paintbrush) or an interest they shared (ballet shoes, gardening gloves, workshop tools, etc.).
You want to package your memory-gift in a way that it can be easily displayed on a wall, shelf, or furniture surface.
Framing works best for flat items such as:
Shadowboxes work best for items that are small or combinations of flat and non-flat collections such as:
Cubes, plastic boxes, glass or plastic display containers come in a variety of sizes and shapes and work for larger items such as:
You are in the unique position of being the only one who has access to both your spouse’s memories AND the drawers and dusty basement boxes they keep the reminders in. The combination is a heady best-gift-ever-waiting-to-happen. And only YOU can be the one that makes sure it does! Giving your spouse the gift of a fond memory made tangible will have him or her smiling long after the holiday is over!
*Pilfering scrapbooks is NOT recommended if they were put together with loving care by your spouse!
Are you hanging the stockings by the chimney with care and realizing there’s still lots of empty spaces in there? The 5-day Christmas Stocking Stuffer Extravaganza has been condensed for you. If you’re doing some last minute stocking stuffing, here’s some great ideas of how, what and from where to get your stuffing on!
1. Budget friendly. Over 50 great stuffing ideas for $5 or less HERE.
2. Something for everyone. 75 gender-neutral ideas HERE.
3. It’s all about HER. Or HIM Oodles of ideas for the special man or woman in your life HERE.
4. Pick a theme. Animal lover? Coffee or tea drinker? Fitness buff? Sports enthusiast? Traveler? Cook or baker? Gardener? Artist? Knitter? Reader or writer on your stocking stuffing list? Check out the ideas for themed stockings HERE.
5. Last minute pickups. Plenty of suggestions for where to get and how to package those late additions to the stocking lineup HERE!
Whatever the weather, here’s wishing you a blessed and very MERRY CHRISTMAS!
This time of year can be absolutely crazy! We have so much to do, so many places to go, so many lists to write, so many things to remember. With all the hustle and bustle going on, it’s easy to overlook something. Or someone. One way to avoid being caught with a memory short and a gift shy is to have some great gifts on hand to present to those very special people you care about – but forgot. A great have-on-hand gift is one that is useful, not tied to a particular age, gender, or ethnicity, and – maybe most important of all – is something you wouldn’t mind owning if this is the year you forget nobody! Here are five that qualify!
1. Amaryllis in a box. This fast-growing flower comes in oodles of colors – including a cool peppermint striped variety – and can be found in big box stores and garden stores for $5-$10. The recipient will be delighted with the giant blooms (about 8 inches!) that erupt within 4-6 weeks indoors and last another two weeks on average. Bonus: the box is an easy-to-wrap shape.
2. Bottled Quick-Bread. Layering these common ingredients in a bottle – or clear jar – with the simple instructions makes an attractive gift that anybody would eat up! Click on the picture for this Chocolate Chip and Oatmeal Quick Bread recipe and how-to. Bonus: the mix lasts 2-3 months at room temperature.
3. Holiday CD. Classics, instrumentals, children’s favorites, Big Band editions, country Christmas . . . there’s more choices and places to buy them than ornaments on a crowded tree! Bonus: If this one’s not claimed by Christmas Day, you can use it immediately – no mixing or growing required!
4. Flavored Hot Chocolate Mix. You can present your gift in a jar as pictured, or fill cellophane bags, tie off and tuck them in a festive Christmas mug for two gifts in one! Click on the picture for this French Vanilla recipe. Bonus: this can be made in a batch and divided up to create multiple gifts.
5. Windowsill herb garden. The pictured kit was found on Amazon.com for $18.68 (give or take a few pennies), but you should be able to find something similar at a local lawn and garden type store. From attractive package, to something that looks nice in the kitchen, to something one can eat, this gift has it all! Bonus: It’s the gift that keeps on giving. Italian herb rubs, rosemary bread – there’s so many yummy possibilities you may want to gift this to one who lives close enough to share!Related:
1. Pay down someone’s layaway. School counselors are a good resource for finding families who could use a helping holiday hand.
2. Bring a little Christmas cheer to someone who can’t get out and about. Take a mini tree and ornaments over to light up a corner. Whether they are alone, or family won’t arrive until the holidays, contribute to the happy glow.
3. Offer to babysit for that single parent or couple who are limited on funds so they can shop without the kids in tow.
4. Helping out with local food baskets? How about sticking in a card game if you know the recipient can use it and/or has children? They are compact and add a little entertainment to the mix! Skip-bo is a good one because two (or more) people can play, the cards are easy on the eyes, and you can find it at discount stores, drug stores, and games stores for under $10.
5. Send that neighbor on a tight budget an anonymous Christmas card containing a gift card to a nearby grocery store.
6. Bring your (well-behaved!) dog to a local nursing home. Of course you want to check with the appropriate person at the facility first to set up a good time and find out about any restrictions they might have. But it is well-established that animals can both lift the spirits of those who are down and calm down those who are agitated. Often seniors in nursing homes don’t have much opportunity to love on a pet – and many miss their own. When you see how much joy such a simple gesture can bring, you may want to extend your visits beyond the holiday season!
7. Offer to wrap gifts and/or hide them at your house for parents with inquisitive children who have little private time. My husband and I did this for years when we had next-door neighbors with little ones. We didn’t have family of our own locally and we fell into the tradition of hauling the gifts over to their house on Christmas Eve after the kids had gone to bed. After, we’d sit with the parents while sipping a Christmas drink, soft Christmas carols playing in the background, and enjoyed a wonderful chat. It led to a cherished friendship and lovely memories.
8. Donate blood. Donations are often down during the holidays due, in part, to all the added commitments that regular donors have. It’s a life-saving gift that costs you nothing but time. (And, for some, getting over the ewwwww factor of a needle being involved. But just remember – you get cookies afterward!)
9. Volunteer to walk the dog one day a week (or more?) for that elderly neighbor who has a mobility challenge. This is even more helpful on icy days.
10. Wrap up some small gifts (a box of chocolate, a fold-up umbrella, a mini flashlight), carry them with you, and give them spontaneously to strangers you pass that seem harried, stressed out or depressed with a smiling “Merry Christmas” (or the greeting for the holiday you are celebrating). WARNING: The joy of spontaneous gift-giving can become addictive!
Have a great idea for a holiday good deed or been the recipient of one? Tell us about it!
I was surprised to learn how many of us were looking for something else to talk about during our holiday meal besides everyone’s latest medical procedure and what family feuds are alive and well as a result of last month’s post Thanksgiving Table Talk. For this year’s Christmas dinner, you already have the great food and great company planned – to make a perfect trio, following are some suggestions for great (and potentially humorous) Christmas dinner conversation!
One idea is to to write questions on festive cards, put them in a jar and pass the jar around the dinner table, taking turns drawing a card and asking a surprise question. There are numerous places to get inspired for question topics. Following are some links to explore topic lists that you can use as-is, modify to Christmas-fy, or use to generate ideas perfect for a particular holiday group.
Another fun delivery of questions to the Christmas diners, is a spin-the-wheel format. Here’s a link to realsimple.com that shows you how to make the wheel as well as provides some topics. A simple craft project to engage the kids prior to dinner is a fun bonus!
Looking for questions with a family theme? Recieve a pdf of questions from Power of Moms.
This great list of questions to bring generations together from AARP deserves an encore performance!
Remember the great ideas last month from the fun skiptomylou.com? Not only can those suggestions be adapted to Christmas themes, but the site has 3 more conversation-starting card sets that are all ready to go for you last-minuters who want the questions drafted AND the cards already decorated!
Whether you draw your questions from a jar, have one at each place setting, have an official question reader, or spin-the-wheel to see what the question will be, this Christmas dinner will be full of good chat and laughter!
We were in the forbidden territory of my parent’s room. Where else would we be on a Friday night – bowling night – so close to Christmas? My brother was standing on a chair, rooting around the shelf in my father’s closet. He found another Christmas present with my name on it! He handed it down to me and I was disappointed by how small it was. Clearly not a game. I carefully untaped one end – no way Mom wouldn’t notice ripped paper. Unfolding the opened end, I slid two fingers in to separate the paper enough to peek in. I gasped! The silver rosary case! I could tell by the weight that the beloved silver rosary was still tucked into its round metal box.
For years the miniature case with the raised Lady of Fatima, arms outstretched, lay idle in the top drawer of Mom’s dresser. Every once in a while, when given permission, I’d be in that room talking to my mother and she would let me look at it. I would carefully open the hinged lid and slowly lift out the dulled silver rosary, admiring the beads, the cross, the medal. I was awed by its holiness. When our chat was over, so was my precious visit with the rosary. And back into the drawer it went.
And now it was mine! At least it would be as soon as Christmas morning got here. My brother was urging me to give it back so we could finish. Regretfully, I refolded the paper, making sure to secure the tape in the exact spot it had been. I handed it up to him, ignoring his ramblings about whatever he had just discovered in a package with his name on it. I didn’t even care that there was another package for me that looked like it was the Mystery Date Game I’d been hoping for. That was anti-climatic after after receiving – well, almost receiving – the fabulous silver rosary. I danced out of the room in my red-plaid flannel gown. This would be the best Christmas ever!
Except it wasn’t. Soon after the snoop, I started feeling guilty. I had ruined my mother’s surprise. I had cheated her out of seeing the delight I expressed the moment I discovered the special gift. I had cheated myself out of having that moment with her. Suddenly, I understood Christmas. The love, the relationships, the authentic giving. Shame made my cheeks feel hot.
With a heavy feeling and churning stomach, I waited my turn to open a gift on Christmas morning. The little package was on top of my pile. All eyes were on me. I mustered up some fake enthusiasm and ripped the paper off. I think I did a good job pulling off the right amount of zeal to let my mom know how special it was to receive it. But I felt like a hypocrite before I had the vocabulary to describe the feeling. And I had a lot of trouble meeting my mother’s eyes – she was pretty good about spotting lies.
That is the first memory that comes to mind when asked about my childhood Christmases – in spite of many years of wonderful memories. Decades later I feel the warmth of shame at the remembrance. I would love to have a do-over on that. But then I would not have learned that valuable Christmas lesson.
HAVE YOU LEARNED ANY SPECIAL CHRISTMAS LESSONS?
WELCOME TO DAY 5 OF THE STOCKING STUFFER EXTRAVAGANZA!
We’re wrapping up (pun not originally intended – but it works) the stocking stuffer extravaganza with great tips on where to buy stocking stuffers and ideas on how to wrap them. You already know you can go on-line and find almost anything you want – and that may be a good choice for those hard-to-find specialty items. But for most of our stocking stuffers we don’t want to pay more for postage and so-called ‘handling’ than the price of the gift. We need to search locally s for our stocking-stuffer treasures.
PLACES TO SHOP FOR STOCKING STUFFERS
1. Savvy store-owners cluster great options for stocking stuffers around the place customers have to wait to pay. Peruse the check-out lanes at the following:
2. The pen/pencil aisle of office supply or discount stores – pens, pencils, post-its, highlighters
4. Bed and Bath type stores usually have a wall where small personal items can be found. It’s a great place to look for things like sleep masks, hand-held massagers, hand treatment gloves, foot treatment socks, bath brushes, novelty lights, and other things you didn’t know you needed until you see them there.
5. At bed/bath stores,’superstores’ like Target and Walmart, as well as gourmet food/pantry type stores, there is a wall or aisle with all sort of small kitchen gadgets and utensils perfect for stocking stuffing. Check out the baking aisle, too.
6. FREE. Yes, that’s always a nice option. Here are some places to get supplemental stuffers at no cost
WRAPPING STOCKING STUFFERS is always optional. Following are a few tips/ideas for presentation.
If you missed any of the EXTRAVAGANZA, catch up with the following posts: Stocking Stuffers $5 or Less; 75 One-Size-Fits-All Stocking Stuffers; Stocking Stuffers for HIM or Her, Themed Stocking Stuffers; and (the post that started it all) 7 Ways to Get Back the Childhood Magic of the Holidays.
WELCOME TO DAY 4 OF THE CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFER EXTRAVAGANZA!
Have a sports enthusiast, coffee lover, tea drinker, animal lover, sports fan, or other special interest enthusiast for a mate? We’ve got something for you! Over the past three days we’ve covered almost 200 suggestions for Christmas stocking stuffers based on price, gender, and cross-over appeal. If you have been waiting for a more organized approach to personalizing your mate’s stocking, why not pick an aspect of their life that’s important to them and/or you want to celebrate, and choose your stocking stuffers around that theme? Following are 12 themed collections. If you don’t find you category here, you’ll be full of ideas for it by the time you get done looking at these groupings!
Knitting needles; crochet hooks; cross stitch fabric; unusual yarn; embroidery floss; mini embroidery hoops; stitch-counters; cloth tape measure; knitting/crocheting/quilting magazine and/or subscriptions; gift card to fabric, yarn or hobby store; needles; thread; pattern pamphlets; Burt Bees hand salve; row counters; scissors; seem rippers; yarn dots; oversize buttons; knitting cards; gift certificate for classes; tickets for textile or quilt exhibit; how-to DVD
COOKS AND BAKERS
Measuring spoons; mini utensils (spatula, tongs, basting brush); cookie/melon scoops; hot pads; cookie cutters; oven mitt; apron; cookie/cupcake garnishes; frosting tips; interesting spices; meat rubs; garlic press; egg slicer; cheese slicer; wooden spoons; foodpaste; decorative cupcake/muffin/candy liners; timer; shears; tickets for chocolate tasting; mini or paperback cookbooks; cooking or food magazine/subscription; steam releaser (Sid Lid); ladle; pepper mill; sea salts; instant-read thermometer; pie crust weights; garnishing tools; napkin folding book; corn holders; miniature salt and pepper shakers; gourmet condiments; onion goggles; whisks; oil mister; bag clips; ravioli stamp; zester; how-to DVD; gift certificates for classes
Brushes; tubes of paint, mini canvas, collapsible mini easels, charcoal pencils, colored pencils, gel pens, magic markers, felt-tip calligraphy pens, how-to DVD, pencil sharpener; eraser; maniken set (people or animals); paint knife; mini sketch book; brush holders; paint markers; brush cleaner/preservative; paint stain remover; Master Artist’s hand soap; gift certificate to art supply or hobby store; tickets to art event; art magazine/subsription
Mini notebooks; pocket thesauras/dictionary, leather journal; book of author quotes; magnetized sayings; encouraging quotes in mini frames (put together yourself); pens/pencils; coffee mug; coffee; energizing snack food; mood-setting music CD; flashdrives; T-shirt (at left); post-it-notes; gift card to office supply store; gift certificate for coffee shop; book-on-tape on topics they research; tickets to author’s lecture or writing event; writing magazine/subsription; mousepad; notecards; earplugs; fingerless gloves; hand-held voice recorder
Paperback books; book marks; mug; beverage packet (coffee, tea, hot chocolate); reading glasses;
book light; magnetized book sayings; T-shirt; book jewelry (come in bracelets, necklaces and earrings with book sayings or book shapes); book on tape; movie version of book DVD; book socks; eyeglass lanyard; book phone cover; book lover’s tote bag; book ends; ‘do not disturb sign’; gift card to book store
Can cozy; ball cap; team pins/emblems for hat; team lanyards; tickets to a game/event; sports magazine/subscription; sport-based movie DVD; fake tatoos; racquet balls/tennis balls/golf balls; themed briefs; power bars; team socks; T-shirt; themed watch/jewelry; steering wheel cover; bumper sticker; window decals; license plate frame; mini calendar with game dates highlighted; trading cards; sports flash drive; sports magazine/subscription
Pedometer; hand/wrist weights; trail mix; power bars; visor; sweat/wristbands; socks; sunglasses; magnetized motivational sayings; earbuds; iPod gift card; gloves; weighted jumprope; athletic tape; sports watch; interval timer; water bottle; lip balm; training journal; clip light; head phones; gift certificate to gym or sporting goods store; fitness magazine/subscription
Coffee: Mini bags of coffee; packages of cookies; mini cream pitcher; biscotti; coffee lip balm; coffee scoop; expresso tamper; mug cozy; mini electric coffee grinder; coffee drink recipes; coffee shop gift card
Tea: Tea bags; packets of loose tea; sugar spoons; scone mix; infusers; shortbread cookies; mini jars of jelly/jam; jar of curd; tea towel; flavored honey; tea ball; gift certificate to tearoom
Both: Mugs; T-shirt; themed magnets; insulated car cups; themed book marks; cup-shaped notecards or sticky notes; bumper sticker
Seed packets; mini pots for windowsill garden; paperback gardening/cooking/preserving food books; mini hardcover herb books; decorative plant stakes; how-to DVDs; tickets to home and
garden event; bonsai tree; garden gloves; hand soap; hand cream; gift card to lawn and garden store; rain gauge; seedling hose nozzle; fertilizer spikes; plant label; marking pen; mini terrariums
Destination brochures; luggage tags; travel clotheslsine; packable wine glasses; mini alarm clock; electric adapter; travel toiletries (shampoo,conditioner, toothpaste, powder, hand cream); Sewing kit; shoe-shine cloth; book light; foreign language dictionary; earbuds; gift card to e-books; travel magazine/subscription; gum; mints/hard candy; breakfast bars; tea bags; laundry bag; postcard stamps; lint brush; paperback novel; earplugs; disposable camera; book-on-tape; travel journal; mini notebook; inflatable neck pillow
Eyeglass holders; National Geographic-type DVDs; themed jewelry; personalized name tag for their pet; mini cat/dog/rooster, etc. calendar; mini frames with pet’s picture; themed bandanas/socks/briefs/T-shirts; mug with their pet on it (plan ahead); refrigerator animal magnets; animal drink stirrers; pet food recipes; themed Christmas ornaments; Humane Society notecards; animal keychains (I’ve seen barking dogs and meowing cats with flashlights!); Cat Fancy/Dog Lover magazines/subsription
So many themes – so little time! While I’m not going to get to the wine lovers, inspirational, gamers, movie lovers, crafters, teachers, and some of the other themes I would like to cover, I can’t resist showing you a picture or two (or three) that I had in hopes of getting there.
Coasters that serve as glass markers, too. And a mini guitar skillet for the music lover. And I sure wouldn’t want to leave out the ugly sweater bottle cover!
Well, tomorrow is the wrap-up for the CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFER EXTRAVAGANZA. We’ll finish off with ideas for places to get stocking stuffers and suggestions for wrapping. See you there!
Welcome to Day 3 of the CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFER EXTRAVAGANZA!
Now that we have talked about
cheap inexpensive stocking stuffers, and gender neutral stocking stuffers, lets move on to a little something special for the HIM or HER in your life! While I am catering to the cliche gender preferences, feel free to check out both lists in case there are some crossover interests.
Tomorrow the CHRISTMAS STOCKING STUFFER EXTRAVAGANZA continues with special theme stuffings (such as for cooks, readers, sport fans, etc.) See you there!