Think Outside The (Gift) Box

Some of the best gifts don't fit in a bag or a box. Consider giving loved ones experiences, home repairs or other things they will appreciate but that you can't find at the mall!

Some of the best gifts don’t fit in a bag or a box. Consider giving loved ones experiences, home repairs or other things they will appreciate but that don’t come from the mall!

We’ve been talking a lot about Christmas lately. Holiday shopping with your VCNB Rewards Checking and Platinum Visa® card and how to save with a Christmas Club  have been at the top of our minds. But the truth is, a lot of us here at VCNB have been discussing gift giving as well. More to the point, we are all worried and asking the same question. What on Earth are we going to buy our loved ones?

It’s a wonderful problem to have but it seems like everyone we know already owns too much stuff. So many parents complain because their kids have too many toys and nowhere to put more. Adults often don’t need or want very much either.

While we want to give our loved ones a special holiday, we often waste money on the wrong things.

Make no mistake: we don’t advocate skipping Christmas or gift giving. However, if you’re in the position that we just described, buying stuff for the sake of buying stuff, this may be a good time to reconsider your habits and think outside the (gift) box.

In the interest of keeping gifts useful and cutting down on clutter, consider giving experiences rather than things. A zoo or YMCA membership, sports or concert tickets, movie passes, a manicure or a spa day will make the recipient think fondly of you while they’re having fun.

Experience gifts are especially great for families. Rather than buy individual gifts for every person, consider sending the entire family out for an experience together. Other great family gifts might include board games, movies or a gift card for their favorite restaurant.

For young adults who are on their own for the first time, there’s an endless list of things they need or want for their apartment or new house. Consider buying them cookware, bedding, furniture or decorative items to help make their new living space feel more like home.

That elderly person who already has everything is often difficult to shop for. Instead of buying them a thing, give the gift of your time. Take them some home baked cookies with a gift card or voucher for you to take them out to lunch or have them over for a home cooked meal.

There is also a place for practical gifts that save the recipient time or money. Hire someone to deep clean their home, clear their gutters or replace their leaky kitchen faucet. Everyone appreciates a little help around the house!

Gift baskets can also be a practical gift that is presented in such a nice way that it doesn’t seem so practical. A gift basket of their favorite foods would be thoughtful and practical. Note cards, stationery and stamps would be helpful to a shut-in while a colander filled with ingredients for a nice pasta dinner may be welcomed by a busy family.

If all else fails, consider a gift in their name to their favorite charity. There are tons of good causes that would value your donation, no matter how big or small.

One other thing: we recently saw something on social media that sounded really interesting. For those who want to really trim down Christmas for their kids, buy your child something they need, something to wear, something to play with and something to read. It’s a way to still have fun and open some gifts without spending a lot or accumulating too much.

Tell us in the comments below: What are your favorite go to gifts for the most challenging people on your gift list?


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