It’s so easy for birthdays and holidays to turn into orgies of mindless stuff accumulation, and trust me, I love wading through a sea of wrapping paper amid cries of delight, but when we go back to normal, everyday life, I’ve observed that many gifts end up on the fringes, unused, while others are used often but aren’t beneficial. Is there a better way? We have a limited budget and everyone in the world has only 24 hours in a day–personally, I’d rather be investing our dollars and minutes in things that matter. For that reason, I’m proposing that every gift I purchase this year fulfill at least two purposes.
Two Points of Enrichment: A Gift Giving Strategy
The first purpose is fun!
If I sound like a killjoy above, let me clarify now–if a gift isn’t fun, forget about it. I don’t give undies at Christmas! The nice thing with kids is that nearly everything is fun. Gummy vitamins? Fun. Superhero socks? Fun. I actually really struggle with my husband’s typical wishlist, with its brown $18-a-pair socks and endless flashlights. If he starts putting quarters for toll money on the list, I’ll draw the line. But basically, fun is defined by the recipient–if it’s requested, it’s good. A gift that delights shows love in a personal way.
Experience or educational?
The second purpose varies: If I take my daughter to see The Nutcracker ballet, I would consider that fun and enhancing her cultural experience, honing an interest in fine arts. We could get our kids skis or ski lessons–fun and good exercise. I like to get sticker and other activity books–fun and good for fine motor skills. A family board game is fun and promotes family togetherness. I gave my little girl a great picture book about Japan last year–fun and educational. I like to put a box of mac and cheese in the kid’s stockings–kind of junk food, but a fun treat (because we don’t have it often) that will serve as a meal one day.
What about adults?
I’m easy–I find books both fun and often educational. A pretty travel mug is fun and useful. I like to ask for fancy hair and skin care products that are too much of a splurge to buy regularly. My husband loves to receive good quality coffee and tea–it saves in the regular budget, but it’s still a treat.
I’ll be honest–you could probably think of a second reason besides “It’s fun” for any gift you want to buy! Personally, I’m having a hard time justifying the Calico Critters Houseboat for my daughter, but I bet there’s a way. Zoology? Ha ha. But even if I am stretching it to justify a certain gift, I’ll feel better if I can convince myself it has true value!
How do you decide what to get when gift shopping? Are you an over planner like me, or do you buy on a whim? Let’s talk about it in the comments below!