'Tis the Season of Giving

The season of giving is nearing once again and as the song goes, “Santa is checking his list to see whether you have been naughty or nice.” For some of us, if Santa saw our credit card statement in January, we would immediately make the top of his naughty list. Many of us buy into the idea that “more is better” and go into debt buying gifts. While it is fun to give and receive, how much fun is it to pay off your credit card? So re-think gift giving, especially for those who may not be as mobile or live in a limited space. What gifts could you give that would not occupy space, collect dust or go unused?

The following are some suggestions you might consider:

• Bus pass or gift certificate for a taxi that serves their area.

• Pedicures, manicures, massages; a spa day. Some places will even come to the home.

• Hand and body lotion, body wash, cologne, bath consumables, etc. Ask about preferences. Most people have their favorites and may have fragrance allergies.

• Gourmet coffee or tea.

• Be sure to include batteries (rechargeable batteries are great) with anything you give that requires them. Just giving batteries is a winner—think of how many things we use that require them.

• Magazine, newspaper, newsletter publications.

• Computer lessons; learning how to use e-mail can allow someone to easily correspond with others.

• Wreaths, flowers and bulbs, particularly seasonal ones.

• A calendar that is personalized with family photos (available at Kinko’s and other printing stores).

• Phone cards; good for long distance calling.

• Tickets to movies, concerts, Community Theater, sporting events, etc.

• Music—You can even personalize a tape or CD with their favorites.

• Photos of family and friends; include a photo album.

• Postage stamps and stationary or all occasion cards. The stationary can even be personalized and you can also make return address labels. If you are really in the spirit, volunteer some time to help someone write a note or address cards.

• Give a service; housecleaning, yard service, snow shoveling, etc.

• Supplies for a favorite hobby.

For people that need large print materials, consider:

• Large print cookbooks, puzzles, word searches, playing cards, and other games.

• Large numbered phones and photo phones.

• Other assistive devices; large button remote control for TV, talking indoor/outdoor thermometer, easy grip keyholders.

• Check out the Low Vision Store, Call 651-203-2200 for a free catalog or visit online at www.lowvisionstore.com.

• Books on tape or CD are available for purchase, but you can have access to a whole library at the State Services for the Blind, 651-642-0500, TTY 651-642-0506. They offer free reading material in alternate formats to people who have trouble reading normal print due to a visual or physical limitation.

Gift certificates are great and stores have made them available for everything from clothing to restaurants to pet supply stores. If you plan to give them do some checking first.

• Is there an expiration date?

• Does it have to be used in the store or can it be used online?

• What if the place goes out of business?

• Will a gift certificate actually be convenient for the person using it?

• If you give a restaurant gift certificate, make sure they deliver and the certificate can be used in that manner.

If you give food, consider:

• The person’s diet. Are they diabetic or a vegetarian? Consider their tastes. Maybe a gift certificate to their local grocery store might be best.

• Amount of food; try not to give too much food that is perishable, it may go to waste.

• Making meals that can be frozen in plastic containers. Attach a label with the contents (make the print large for those that need it), the heating time and the date the dish was prepared.

Of course the greatest gift is when you give of yourself. You can make handmade gift certificates or coupons for various things. If you are not into calligraphy or art, you can make it on the computer. Here are some ideas:

• Offer a day of ‘YOU’. For one day they have your undivided attention. This can include anything from spending time with them or shopping, mending, fixing, painting, cleaning, etc. You may want to put in dates that ‘YOU’ are redeemable and how far in advance they need to tell you.

• Teach someone how to use a computer.

• Read to someone. Bake with someone. Spend time with someone.

• Give someone a ride to their place of worship, doctor’s appointment, hair appointment, etc. When you offer a ride to someone’s place of worship confirm the times. It is nice to arrive early and allow time to visit after the service. If giving a coupon or certificate for a ride somewhere, you may want to include information that tells the user the best times to redeem it, e.g. Sat. morning, Sun. afternoon.

• Rake the leaves in someone’s yard, shovel the snow from someone’s sidewalk/driveway.

• Help someone go through, organize pictures and record who the people are or what the event was, etc.

• For grandparents, spend a day with your grandchildren and do anything they want.

• For adult children, make a weekly date with your parents on Sunday morning.

Your thoughts and gifts are always appreciated by those you share with, but these ideas will hopefully help you help yourself and your budget along the way. Get on Santa’s (and your own!) ‘Nice list’ this year by being nice to yourself, too. And remember, smiles and check-in phone calls are free!