Sunday, December 12, 2010

Much ado about everything!

Happy Sunday to you all!

So, how has it been going for you? Are you getting frustrated trying to find those last few gifts?  Are the shops full of shoppers wandering around with that glazed look of panic in their eyes?  Yes, it is two weeks until the big day.  Christmas has become one of the most anxiety inspiring holidays that we celebrate.  But, I have a big secret to tell you.  You probably already know it, but put the thought aside because you do not want to consider and actually think about the implications of this little message.  The secret which is actually not so much a secret as a factual statement is - we do all this to ourselves. 

We stress ourselves to the point that we are quivering bodies looking for something, anything, to show the gift recipient how much we care/love them.  That is so wrong!  Why do we equate the quality, cost, social standing of a gift as a sign of caring let alone how much we love someone?  Some of the best gifts are the simplest ones, ones that are not expensive or difficult to find.  Ones that come straight from the heart.  The sooner that we learn this, the sooner we will stop dreading the holiday gift exchange.

I can think of so many simple things that one can buy for another that would be appropriate and not take a chunk of your hard earned money.  You do work hard for a living, correct?  Well in the hope of fiscal responsibility, let me share a few gift ideas with you.

How well do you know this person?  If the gift is for a work colleague, there is usually a set amount of money agreed upon by all as the maximum amount to be spent.  Please, do not go the route of the "gag" gift.  There is nothing more tacky than some of the holiday neck ware given to men at this time of year.  Also, nothing too personal for the ladies in your office.  That only embarrasses the recipient and/or starts the office gossip to run rampant with false comments.  You should have an idea of your co-worker's taste or interests.  Does he or she have a passion for reading?  Do you see them huddled over the latest novel at lunch break?  If you are not comfortable selecting a book, most bookshops are more than happy to sell a gift certificate in the amount that you would like to spend.  Just be sure to read the small print as to any conditions applying to the use of the certificate such as an expiry date.  You want to have a certificate that gives the recipient time to look over the latest titles and select one that they are longing to read.  The same  idea applies to the music aficionado in the office.  Heaven only knows how many versions of Pachelbel's Canon in D they might already own and you do not want to buy a version they already have.  A gift certificate will let you show your thoughtfulness and the recipient will feel like you really took the effort to find something special for them.  Just be sure to include a card saying how much you have enjoyed working with this person over the past year and that you are looking forward to another enjoyable year.  Or, just say very simply, "Wishing you happiness now and all through the year to come.  Please use this certificate to put toward another book/record for your collection."  No need to get overly flowery in the message, just say something nice and sign it.  I remember working with a lady who loved items with a ladybug motif.  I actually found a kitchen timer in the shape of a ladybug and my co-worker was delighted.  It is all a case of being observant and taking note of a co-worker's habits, what they talk about or what little personal items they have to have at their work station to feel comfortable. 

Other simple gifts are home baked cookies.  I think pretty much everyone enjoys this gift.  To make it that much more special, make sure the cookie tin is attractive and include the recipe for the type of cookies you made.  Top it off with a nice bow and you are all set.  Now, was that not easy?  Avoid the purchase of fragrances for men or ladies in your office.  First of all, it is too personal and second, you do not really know what type of fragrance they favour or if they are even able to use fragranced products.  Better to go the safe route and avoid this type of gift which would include bath gels, fizzing tablets to add to the tub or scented powders.  I remember breaking out in a rash and ending up at my physician's clinic after using one such product.  That was over 20 years ago and I remember it like it was yesterday.  And, I definitely remember who it was that gave me that particular gift.  Not particularly good to be remembered for a reason such as that.

More ideas?  Unscented hand creams, a package of gourmet coffee beans for the coffee lover, a particular type of loose tea leaves for the tea drinker (that would be me!), or perhaps a collection of little jars of jams for the person who loves a leisurely breakfast on the weekend and enjoys a little jam on their toast.  These types of people are so easy to spot as they often bring in their own flask of coffee or tea because they only enjoy a certain type.  The jam lover is generally a person who talks about cooking and appears to be knowledgeable about different types of jams, jellies and other condiments with which to top their toast.

If you have an art lover to buy for, do not get overwhelmed when you walk into the art supply store.  Hopefully you know if the intended recipient paints with acrylics, oils or watercolours.  If not, again a gift certificate is the way to go.  But, if you know a bit about the person and have seen some of their work, you may have noticed that they favour shades of blue, green, or perhaps purples. A good tube of acrylic paint will likely cover the amount of money you intend to spend and the recipient will appreciate that you took note of their favourite colours and bought a good brand in a colour that they will actually be able to use. Just to pad the gift out a bit, a small package of inexpensive paintbrushes added to it will make the gift look more substantial.

There are some people who shop all year 'round to fill up their "gift drawer."  These people are able to come up with a gift on a moment's notice without breaking into a sweat.  These are also the same people who have cards for all occasions on hand as well as gift bags or wrapping paper.  These are the truly organized people who are often the most difficult to have as your recipient.  Here's a hint - look at one of their cards, there is apt to be one on the office bulletin board or someone will surely have one tucked in their desk.  Take note of how the card was made. Did they hand stamp it or did they make a collage out of bits of coloured paper?  A trip to the art supply store will show a multitude of papers, stamps, ink pads, plastic folders and so on that any die hard card crafter would love to have.

The main thing in gift giving is to be sincere.  That can be difficult when you need to purchase a gift for someone that you are not particularly found of or just cannot be in the same room with for whatever reason.  If you cannot think of anything that this person is interested in, a simple journal accompanied by a nice pen would be appropriate.  They can jot down their thoughts, ideas or laundry list, the main thing is that you have covered that gift as best as possible.  If you feel this is not appropriate, then maybe a box of good chocolates may be the best gift possible given the circumstances.

I hope some of these ideas will help in your search for the perfect gift.  Sit down, make a list of the people you need to buy for and list a few possible gift items beside each name.  Then, head off to the shops early in the day before the crowds take over the streets, parking lots and mall concourses.  Hopefully, you will have your shopping done in good time to head home to wrap your treasures and have that cup of tea you are dying to have.  Enjoy it, you deserve it after a journey like that. 

Sincerely,   Rutheemac

P.S.  I have put up some pictures of two wreaths I made this week along with a triptych of paintings with a holiday theme.  This trio of paintings is going to be mounted on some wide plaid ribbon and hung on a wall to add a little holiday colour.  It is a quick way to add a festive touch to an area without breaking the bank.  You could easily do this with an assortment of little holiday ornaments, small grapevine wreaths that you have decorated or even a series of photographs of previous holiday celebrations.  The best thing to remember in decorating for the holidays is that too much is just that, too much.  A little glitter goes a long way in decorating although you can use it a little more liberally at this time of the year.  Stand back, admire your handiwork and head into the kitchen to ramp up the cookie production.  You can never have too many cookies on hand and they make great last minute hostess gifts.  Now, you are set for the holidays!

I would love to hear your ideas of the perfect gift, either to give or receive.  Click on the word "comment" at the bottom of this post and a window will open up for you to let me know what you are doing this holiday season.  I would love to hear about how you decorate your home, what cookies you have to have to make the holiday perfect or just how your shopping is progressing. 


MFCarter said...

Rutheemac... one of the things I like to do is make sugar cookies and cut them up into different shapes and bake them. Then... have a cookie decorating party and invite people over to decorate the cookies. It's a lot of fun. I then surprise them with letting them take their cookies home. Cool and fun. :)

Ruthee said...

That sounds like a lot of fun! There's nothing more fun than a group of people getting together and doing something like this. It's not an expensive activity and the best gift of all(besides the cookies) is the gift of your time in organizing the get together. Hope someone helped with the clean up!