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A Guide to 12 Practical Christmas Gifts

The Art of Gift Giving Isn't in the Dollars Spent but in the Thought Behind the Gift

Gift giving is an art. You can spend a lot of time planning for the ultimate gift, or you can spend a lot of money on the ultimate gift. Some people enjoy gift giving while others find it to be a burden. I personally enjoy giving gifts I know the recipient would enjoy getting. For me, that often is something I would like to get myself. I do take time to think about and plan what I am going to give. I also like to save money and make my money go as far as possible. Here are my suggestions for practical gifts to give families that will definitely be used.

Magazine subscriptions are always welcomed. It could be a new magazine the family has not received before, or you could extend their subscription to a magazine they already receive. City based magazines are often filled with wonderful local activities. Children focused magazines can also be a welcomed gift. Families on a budget often don't have extra funds to pay for magazine subscriptions so this makes for a welcomed gift.

Memberships to the local zoo or museum would be a practical idea that the entire family could enjoy. You would have to know a little bit about the area they live in and if they frequent one place often. Similar to the magazine subscription above, they are both gifts that would last an entire year.

Homemade gifts are great but we don't always have the time or talent to make them. I find that having small children at home, if I can get them involved in the gift making, the gifts are more appreciated. We often give bread or candy that the girls have helped make. Cookie or brownie mixes in a jar are easy and don't take too much time to put together. While this is not a new idea, I can attest to the fact that they do get used. Children can also make the tags or cards that go along with the gift. Having a few of these jars available for last minute or forgotten gift giving needs, will make the holiday season a bit less stressful.

Family photos make for a great holiday gift. We have often given a gift of photographs of our children to relatives. Another variation to this idea would be to give the gift of a photo session. If you are not able to afford the photo sitting package, how about a nice photo album with a discount coupon enclosed or a coupon for digital photo processing at their local photo lab. This idea can also be used for a great baby shower gift or wedding gift.

Start a collection! Give a different Christmas ornament each year. Find a certain brand or theme and add to this each year. A note explaining that this is one in a series or theme would go along nicely. You could shop for these off season or maybe find one while on vacation and then put it away until the holiday rolls around. Getting your family involved in the choosing can make for a really fun task. One of my favorites would be the yearly offerings from the White House. Did you even know there was a yearly White House ornament?

A themed gift basket or box can be practical and most enjoyable filling. Have your entire family get in on the ideas. Send a box filled with your favorite regional food items. Or create a box of newly found items for the year. If you have found a new product that you enjoy, keep a family list throughout the year of these finds and then set a dollar limit for the gift basket and purchase those items for the present. The fun is in the explanation of why it is being included, which family member found this product and why they liked it.

Gift cards are available everywhere, even at your local drug store. However, many people find them to be impersonal. I think they would be a welcomed gift if you took a little time to plan what kind of a gift card would work best for the family you are giving too. Let them know you are giving this particular gift card because you know they enjoy a certain activity.

Movies! My husband would love this idea because he enjoys any cinematic event. Gift certificates to the local movie theater can be used for movies and refreshments. Gift certificates to a national chain movie rental company or an online movie rental company would be variations to this idea and would work well for a family with small children because they can't always get out to the theater.

Do they love music? What about a gift card for downloading mp3 music? This would be a great idea for a family with teens, however, they might take off with the gift card and the parents would never see it again!

If the parents have a regular date night, restaurant coupons and gift certificates would be a great idea. Make your money go further with a gift card from which offers wonderful discounts for eating out. I've found that teenagers also like the gifts.

Gift cards are available for gas, and with the prices of gas lately, this gift could help spread any family's budget, even if it were for one fill up. This is also a fantastic idea for a teenager who just got their drivers license or a car.

What about grocery stores? Yes, they offer gift cards too. I have heard many families don't find this to be too exciting or even think of it as a gift. But really, it would not go unused. Again, it would help with the families' budget. Writing a nice note and suggest they might use it for a special occasion like shopping for a birthday party or some other event. Maybe this family feeds a sports team every so often, or a youth group. Letting them know you gave this gift because you are aware they provide a lot of meals for a meals ministry at church would make this gift more thoughtful and personalized.

Many of these ideas for practical gift giving don't take a lot of money but of course you can put forth as little or as much as you'd like to make them extra special. It isn't always the amount of money or time spent on a gift that makes it one that will be enjoyed but rather the thought behind the giving that makes it special. Include a note that explains your reasoning for the gift and I assure you, it will be more heart felt. It truly is in the small details that make gift giving an art.

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