Some of my favorite gift ideas

By By Beth Randall / 4-H youth agent
Dec. 7, 2003
It is the beginning of December, and I am really getting in the holiday spirit. One of my favorite activities this time of year is to drive around and see the beautiful lights and other decorations. Another favorite thing I enjoy is selecting gifts for special people in my life.
Oh yes, I learned a long time ago the true meaning of Christmas and that giving and receiving gifts should not be at the center of the holidays. However, the holiday season is the perfect time to give gifts to show our gratitude to others, and as long as we keep the proper prospective, gift giving is great.
When selecting a gift consider the person's interests, likes and dislikes. I know that sounds silly, but once upon a time my sister would select gifts for me that she liked not ones I liked. She finally caught on. Now she tries to suit my interests, not gifts SHE thinks I need.
I always begin shopping before I even leave home I start with a list. I write down everyone's name and ideas for gifts. I also have a spending limit for each gift and stay within that budget. As I purchase gifts, I record the name of the gift along with the price on my list. I also keep an envelope in my purse to keep the receipts. It is also a good idea to write the person's name on the receipt in case you have to return an item. I keep my lists from year to year to remind me of past gifts I have given.
So, what are some gift ideas? I like to give handmade gifts sometimes gifts I have made, but most of the time gifts others have made like white oak baskets, decorated pillows, ornaments or baked goods.
Themed gift baskets are another option for the person who has everything. Our area Family Resource Management Agent recommended a movie basket complete with a video, popcorn, candy, and soft drinks.
For the college student try a basket with note pads, pens, stamps, phone cards, a calendar, snack food, and certificates for food. You can really get creative golf baskets, relaxation baskets, or a beach basket the list goes on and on.
My sister thinks the best gifts are gifts of time. Spending time baking cookies with your family, going on a special outing or selecting a gift together are some ideas. Even volunteering in the community would be a great way to help others and spend time together.
Instead of buying a gift, you may give to a church or organization in honor of someone. That is a gift that gives all year.
Personal gift certificates are another way to go. These are little cards that you create yourself for services that you are willing to offer during the year. One year I gave my sister certificates good for ironing since she hates to iron. It is a good idea to be specific one shirt, etc. Also, include an expiration date.
Ideas include a home cooked meal, keeping someone's children for an evening, house work (this one I would never give, since I don't like cleaning my own house) you get the idea.
As you see, gift-giving can be fun and creative and a true expression of your feelings. I hope this holiday season you will give of yourself as you give to others. I know plan to.
For more on gift giving and other holiday information, call your county's extension office. The number in Lauderdale County is 482-9764.