Unless you’re one of the lucky ones who keep Christmas in mind all year long and buys presents as you see them on sale, chances are that once Thanksgiving comes along, it’s crunch time. The turkey is divided up, the pumpkin pie is devoured, and since Santa Claus has been spotted on his sleigh in New York City, the gift giving season has begun. Make your lists, check them twice, and follow our advice for how to make your Christmas simple and enjoyable.
When beginning to think of presents for each of the people in your life, it’s a good idea to divide them into categories. Start with family, then friends, coworkers, and lastly, those who provide a service to you. Once they are listed in groups, it’s easier to keep track of not only the kind of gifts each will get, but also the cost and from where the gift is being bought. This way, you can make a budget more easily, and be more efficient by buying as much from one store at a time as possible. Making multiple trips to the same brick and mortar store can be tiresome, and putting in your credit card information in at the same website repeatedly can be unsafe. A well-thought-out plan means more cookie and eggnog time for you.
Presents for loved ones can be as thoughtful or as practical as needed. Find something useful for the college student in your life, such as a car emergency kit for those long drives back home or furnishings for their new apartment. Don’t forget gift cards to their local grocery store, as sometimes the meal plan just isn’t going to cut it. If your spouse is more romantic than pragmatic, look for a weekend away somewhere. It doesn’t need to be London or Paris to make special memories for the two of you. As an added surprise, find a gorgeous outfit for the occasion at one of your favorite online clothing boutiques, giving you one less thing to worry about while packing. For a parent, find a way to make a call back to a treasured moment in your family: recreate a photo with your brothers and sisters from when you were young, or send them to the restaurant they got engaged in.
Gifts for friends are no less special, but can be a little bit more frivolous. Do you two share an inside joke? Decorate a coffee mug with the saying or item it revolves around. This can be achieved using supplies from your local dollar store, and is guaranteed to bring a laugh over dinner. However, the sophisticated friend in your life is probably looking for something a bit unexpected. Check your city’s events page to find tickets to a gallery opening, or a themed wine tasting. If you can score tickets for two, tag along with them to make the gift even better.
Coworkers can be a challenge to buy for. You want to make sure it’s a friendly gift without it being too intimate. While a gift card to your local happy hour place is always welcome, a subscription-based service may get you the reputation of best Secret Santa in your office. There are so many options to choose from, but stick to something that would be useful during your 8-5 hours or work. Fun mugs or coffee subscriptions make perfect gifts for coffee lovers and can brighten up even the worst Monday or 2 o’clock crash, and if you’re lucky, it will give everyone else ideas for next Christmas.
Those that provide services to you could include your house cleaner, babysitter, various teachers, or your landlord. A tip at Christmas is always appreciated, but a little extra something shows you care. Your child’s teacher most likely has plenty of tea mugs and edible arrangements, so consider getting them a gift card to the spa or local golf course. Your babysitter could benefit from a groupon for a class they’ve had their eye on. Your landlord would be touched by homemade cookies or that DVD you’ve been telling them they must see.
Whoever you’re buying for this holiday season, be it a parent, a significant other, a colleague, or service personnel, make sure it’s a gift bought with them in mind. Regardless of the amount spent or time put into it, if it’s a present that shows thoughtfulness and that you really know them as a person, they’ll love and cherish it.