‘Helping’ with Gift Ideas

Sometimes ‘helping’ with gift ideas is effective for taking away a degree of holiday stress.  I confess to dropping hints to ‘help’ my husband and son with their shopping. Although surprise gifts are fun, they can also disappoint.

For some people, surprises make the best gifts as they enjoy shopping and selecting something perfect for the recipient. I’ve found that people are appreciative of gifts they ask for and I ask for Christmas lists from my family.

My husband enjoys any help I give and takes my direct requests and hints seriously.  I don’t always get everything I ask for, but most things ‘appear’ as he is generous and enjoys fulfilling my ‘suggestions’. Sometimes he does his own thing and adds some highly personal items that I’ve not hinted about such as custom-made jewellery or luxury clothing items all of which I appreciate.

During the weeks preceding Christmas I have learned to be careful about voicing any wistful ideas as he seems to keep a log of my ‘wants’ in his head.  Sometimes I do get a surprise only to remember that I mused, in a passing conversation, about needing certain kitchen gadgets or wanting matching tea towels.

Philosophies of Gifting

After 55 years of marriage and a few years of courtship prior to marriage, we’ve had many gift exchanges. Over the years these exchanges start to feel obligatory especially when we have few wants or needs.

Some couples skip any exchange of gifts opting instead for champagne and chocolate on Christmas morning or an experience that both partners enjoy.

On many festive holidays, we decided on trips to sunny resorts instead of wrapped presents. We have beautiful memories of Christmas trips to Barbados, Cuba, Tobago and the Dominican Republic. We also spent many Christmases in New York making memories with dear friends and enjoying spectacular shows.

In student days, we put limits on spending to keep our rent budget from dangerous compromise. Setting the budget for each gift sometimes felt like a budgeting/accounting exercise rather than an act of generosity and love!

Gifts for the Home or Garden

I’ve always enjoyed receiving gifts for the home or garden.  Some would say this type of gift doesn’t count because it’s impersonal — like those tea towels.

I disagree. I value practical gifts.

Some 30 years ago I found a heavy-duty stainless steel transplant spade tied with a big red bow under the tree.  I had admired a similar spade at a friend’s house when we helped her with a big garden job. The spade serves me every spring when I’m transplanting perennials or shrubs.  While there was no romance in receiving a shovel for Christmas, it did bring a laugh or two when I described the gift to my friends. The spade is still beautiful and I love using it as it has a short shaft that works for my small stature.

‘Helping’ with Gift Ideas — my transplant spade still shines after years of use!

Any gift that makes the home more enjoyable is a good thing.  Last year our son and daughter-in-law wanted new kitchen stoneware and glassware.  We granted their wish. What pleasure they received from using matching dishes and glasses during the year!  We also get to enjoy the ‘gifts’ when we go to their home for informal meals. People appreciate gifts they ask for — perhaps more than the surprises that are seldomly used.

The lesson here is that ‘helping’ with gift ideas doesn’t need to take away the joy of gifting. All parents know that children are happiest with Santa when he brings what they want. The lesson here is that when you are asked what you want for Christmas, don’t be shy about ‘helping’ — some people need you to provide the inspiration and are happy when those wishes are fulfilled.

4 Replies to “‘Helping’ with Gift Ideas”

  1. An interesting post! This reminds me of a time when I was at our dentist. The hygienist knows both Dan and I. She asked me what Dan was getting me for Christmas. I replied, “I don’t know. I like to be surprised.” Her reply, “Yes, I used to be like that. Then I saw what I got.” LOL. Gifts are hard. It’s hard to always or even often to hit it out of the park. I still like surprises, but this year I told Dan, “I have enough jewelry. I don’t need any more.” So, while I’m not exactly helping with gift ideas, I am providing what direction to NOT go in. I do always say, “The card is very important!” I like this post because it is kind of the elephant in the Christmas room. How do you get a gift like you like without it feeling like someone is just doing your shopping? I hope you have a great holiday season!

    1. You are right in saying ‘gifts are hard’. I love my family and know their likes and dislikes but finding the right gift without those hints always proves challenging. My granddaughter solves the problem by providing a long list of wishes and dreams!
      Like you, I have enough jewellry. With the pandemic, there are many pieces that I don’t wear as I seldomly go out.
      When someone buys something I want, I find that I appreciate it more than when I buy it for myself.
      Have a Happy Christmas and a blessed 2022!
      Be well,
      Jeanette

  2. Wonderful blog, Jeanette. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it.
    Loved the line “any gift that makes the home more enjoyable is a good thing”.
    Hope your holidays are memorable, for you and your family, and hopefully we get to see each other in the new year. I really miss seeing everybody.

    1. Hi Judy, Aren’t we happy to have homes that are comfortable and enjoyable as we live through this pandemic?
      I miss seeing you and hearing your wonderful stories of Newfoundland. Hopefully 2022 will not be so grim and we will be able to socialize freely again.
      Happy Holidays to you and yours.
      Stay well,
      Jeanette

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