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My wife recently brought to my attention a great strategy for Christmas shopping. It’s built around the idea of giving kids something they want; something they need; something to wear and something to read.
I like this approach to gift giving, even for adults, because it emphasizes practicality while still allowing for a little fun (who wants to get only clothes for Christmas?).
Something They Want
My mom was way ahead of her time here. She always gave loved ones a present they wanted (even if they didn’t know they wanted it). She called it a “heart’s desire” gift.
It was usually totally impractical and was more expensive than other gifts. She didn’t care. If it was that person’s heart’s desire she went to whatever lengths she needed to so that person could get it.
Answering someone’s heart’s desire brought her great joy.
When I was a young boy I remember wanting an Atari video game system. I wanted it bad. All my friends had one (or so it seemed).
My mom didn’t have a lot of money to spare, and I was aware of that, so I tried to hide just how much I wanted one. But she knew.
On Christmas morning I woke up with excitement just before 5:00 AM and raced into our living room to find a box about the right size under our little Christmas tree. Could it be?
I ripped the paper from the top of the box and the Atari was revealed. It was the most excited I’ve ever been over a Christmas present.
I later learned the reason I had been spending nights with my grandparents was because my mom was working temp jobs answering phones in a call center at night to save up money for Christmas. Now that is heart’s desire!
Something They Need
Practical gifts are not the most romantic, but can often times be the most thoughtful.
My wife bought me a pair of Ugg house shoes last Christmas and it has been one of the best gifts.
Yes, I am sometimes a borderline cheapskate.
Recognizing those old slippers were on their last leg, and the chances of me buying news ones myself were slim, she surprised me with a new pair.
Something To Wear
Guys, a word of advice on this one. Tread carefully.
If you are shopping for your kids then a college sweatshirt is probably a great choice. For your wife…not so much.
Wives want to wear something you think they look good in – a sexy pair of shoes, a nice jacket or something that sparkles (watches, earrings, etc.).
Oh, one more tip guys – if you buy clothing for your significant other always guess a size too small than the other way around!
Something To Read
As kids grow up their interests will shift, but if they maintain a joy of reading it will serve them well into adulthood.
One of my regrets growing up is I did not read enough. I still don’t.
I did like to read non-fiction and my mom always gave me books about business leaders or positive sports personalities to inspire me.
In fact, one of my favorite books (Gifted Hands) in high school was about a doctor who had risen from inner-city poverty to become a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. You’ve probably heard of him by now: Dr. Ben Carson.
Continue to give your children books as they grow older, even if you don’t think they will read them. That book sitting on the bookshelf just might catch their eye one boring summer day and they will open it to see why you gave it to them.
Plan for Christmas
Christmas should not be a time of stress. However, thanks to the over-commercialization of everything Christmas it has become a time of high stress, especially financial stress, for many people.
If you are experiencing this stress now I encourage you to start planning for next year by opening a Christmas sinking fund and diverting a little of each paycheck to a dedicated account for next Christmas.
Having some cash saved for gift-giving, secret Santa donations, etc. will make your holiday much less stressful.