Thursday, July 26, 2012

Making the Transition to Practical Gifts

It needn't cost a great deal to wrap gifts well.

    I have never been a big fan of what I consider to be frivolous gifts.  There are only so many pairs of shoes, bags, and dresses a woman needs.  Bric-a-brak and dust catchers are exactly that.  We need enough "stuff" to make our homes workable, comfortable looking, and effective at the task of being our home, but then beyond that, it's just "stuff".   I remember laughing when our youngest son watched Veggie Tales and they alluded to Wal-Mart by calling it "Stuff-Mart".   Fairly early in our process of raising kids, I began to gravitate toward practical gifts.  This doesn't mean I didn't give cash sometimes to allow the kid to pick out his or her favorite item, if in fact cash would be appreciated by them.  It does mean that I told them that money is always short and that they should select things that don't simply please them for 4-6 months, but will be used or cherished for years to come.  I-pods gave way to expensive books.  CDs gave way to garden tools, and kitchen supplies as they grew.

              At Christmas, we gave one son a new computer we bought from a super seller on E-bay.  It has turned out to be a fabulous buy, and great help with college.  (He has another computer also)   One son wasn't sure what he wanted last year, and we gave him historical  silver coinage.  He is now not only collecting coins, and investigating a small safe, but he has developed an interest in history as a consequence of collecting these American silver coins.  He also watches the silver spot prices now.   One son wanted more specialized welding supplies and another large air compressor, and we were lucky enough to find these items on sale, and be able to get them for Christmas.

               Our daughter has been fortunate enough to receive a number of practical and reasonable "house warming" gifts from friends at work.  I don't think most people would be thrilled with the gift we gave her.  We gave her emergency supplies....  a package of regular telephones which will work during power outages, a NOAA radio, good LED flashlights, emergency freeze dried food, packaged water, and a number of other things for her emergency cabinet.    I would like to have been able to pay for the installation of a Simple Pump so that in a protracted power outage, she could still pump water to the house, but I am afraid I had to save to get my own, and I would have to do the same for her, if we chose to.

               Money is tight for everyone.  No one can afford to get gifts which will not be used, or will not be appreciated.  We all need to carefully assess what these need to be, even if sometimes we need to ask.
The other strategy to good gift practicality concerns wrapping gifts.  I buy all our gift wrap of one variety or another from "The Dollar Tree" or similar store about once annually.  They have great choices. I often use unusual yarns in the place of ribbon, which I also buy either from a dollar store or from Big Lots.

Books are always a great gift, and books on preparedness can be educational as well as enlightening.

             In order to stretch our money and think differently about gift giving, I have an idea.  Get a folder from Wal-Mart, which has bright colors and keep it near your bills.  When you see something which would make a great practical gift for someone, either print out its information on your computer and place it in the folder, or place the brochure or information on it, in the folder. This is also a good place to keep that Emergency Essentials catalog you received by mail.  When it's time to consider a gift for someone, and a handmade gift is not appropriate, then go through the file to get ideas for the best and most practical gift.   This year I gave someone a great book on survival, and they ARE reading it.   We gave someone else an Augason Farms breakfast food set, which they plan to use for camping, but my plan is that they receive an introduction to Augason's food for emergencies, and consider stocking some for that also.

Many times, the investment of a silver coin or set opens a new world for a teen or young adult. They now have an investment in something and will follow the prices of silver and gold, the economy and the markets as well. You may even begin a livelong love of coins or numismatics which may help to make history relevant for some of them, when it wasn't prior.

            There will always be relatives who thought you should have bought them something "frivolous" that they would not have bought for themselves.  Still, if a gift you believe in starts them thinking or moving in a positive direction, isn't that really the best course or intention ?


Matt said...

I like practical gifts also. I got my wife a brand spanking new push mower. But I wasn't cheap though when I got it, it is self propelled.

She was speechless.

JaneofVirginia said...

Spouses are a funny thing. I like practical gifts but I know my mother cried when she received a new vacuum cleaner from my father, and I don't think those were tears of joy. I think a husband buying a gift for a wife probably needs to be a little more careful, although I am sure that there are some wives like me, who like the practical stuff too.

Matt said...

I am, of course, joking. But we both have made motions that most of the gifts are more practical in nature.

As for myself, I have come to loathe gift giving outside my home, and I don't care to celebrate birthdays. We both get what we want/need when we want it badly enough.

My wife still likes jewelry and I DO like getting that for her, although she knows I appreciate her guidance on exactly what to get her. I am happy with a nice flashlight.

russell1200 said...

My little boy (8) wanted to ask Santa Claus for a very practical gift - to be able to shoot lightning bolts! And also to be able to go to Hogworts.

But when he meets Santa Claus in the Xmas runup he keeps foregetting to ask. LOL

JaneofVirginia said...

Russell, That would be a very valuable skill indeed. However, the present government would probably tax such a wonderful gift under one of the new energy laws !

JaneofVirginia said...

It IS challenging, and I think if you have mastered communicating about it then you have done better than most spouses !

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JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you Hassan, There will be a post for preparing for Christmas and winter holiday gifts soon.

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