Gifts That Speak From the Heart

photo by sxc.hu

photo by sxc.hu

Thoughts on Shopping

 

One of my favorite things to do for Christmas is to try and find unique items to give as gifts. I try to put a lot of thought into my purchases.

First of all, for the most part, I don't care for pre-packaged generic gift baskets. Although a lot of them are nicely packaged with some theme items, you'll find that they are filled with no-name items that are pretty much on the cheap side and have no lasting value, not to mention you might only use one of the items, with the rest going to waste. The only saving grace I've seen with those is that sometimes the container is decent enough to use for something else. There is, in my opinion, not much thought needed to fill your cart with such items. However, it strikes me as a conscience easer. You know, you can say to yourself, well, I at least got something and won't come across as a scrooge. In some cases, I think the person might prefer the scrooge, better to be thought a scrooge than someone with poor taste.

So, unless you're buying brand-name gift baskets from Yankee Candles or Le Gourmet Chef, I'd say stay away from the ‘cheapies'. If you want to go generic, a gift card is always welcome, even though those require not much thought either.

Thoughts Behind the Gift

Since I love to poke around antique stores, thrift stores and the like, I tend to find unique items for friends or family. For instance, I have several friends who are cat lovers, so I will try to find something related to cats. I recently purchased Egyptian glass cat perfume bottles and gave those as part of a gift. My former daughter-in-law loved owls, and I found a lovely German-made owl pitcher in a muted dark coffee brown color. She loved it. A co-worker of mine loved penguins, and I came across an old vintage metal tray that had penguins on it, along with an old (I believe from the 50s) gorgeous silver ice bucket with penguins on it. In fact, I think Penguin was the brand name. My best friend's daughter loves horses. I found lovely vintage horse head bookends to give her, along with some books (she's also an avid reader). Candles are almost always a welcome gift, especially for your female friends and family. My favorite ones are the ones my son and daughter-in-law make, which are equal to and I was told, even better than Trapp or Yankee candles. They totally permeate a room and the scent lasts till the last of the wax is gone. I've given several of those to my best friend and she absolutely loves them. If just candles weren't enough, it would also be nice to include lovely vintage candleholders. Most commonly, you'll come across either lovely, embossed silver-plated or sterling ones, so those, along with an old candlesnuffer and silver polish would make a nice gift for the candle lover in your family or your group of friends.

For someone who loves to cook or bake, there is a world of wonderful vintage cookbooks that can be found in an old bookstore. There are also vintage kitchen utensils and gadgets out there that are in good working condition. Fill up a nice basket with those and include pre-packaged soups, pasta, sauces, and cake mixes. Maybe even include a gift certificate for a cooking or baking class.

For me, it's knowing what my friends and family are into, and when I see something that reminds me of them, I generally buy it. This type of shopping might become a bit stressful if you wait till the last minute. I find that when I have to find a certain thing in a short amount of time, I generally don't find it. You need to keep your eyes and mind open during the year so that by the time Christmas rolls around, a lot of your gifts will be ready for wrapping. You can also be creative with the gift-wrapping. You can use newspaper comics for kids. Tin foil, and brown paper bags that you decorate yourself also come to mind. For the car lover or car dealer, you can use the newspaper car ads. Just use your imagination. However, if you must buy wrapping paper, the dollar stores are the place to go. Their prices will save you a small fortune on paper items, which will leave you with more money to spend on good quality gift-wrapping paper.

The same can be said for finding the right container. Instead of buying boxes, use a bucket and fill it with car washing supplies. Baskets are always a good choice, whether new or vintage. Tie on a piece of greenery with a pretty bow and you're all set.

Put on Your Thinking Cap

In one of my favorite shops there is something for literally anyone. If you have a friend who likes to entertain, sets of lovely etched glasses, glass stirrers, vintage trays for serving, ice buckets, old metal ice trays (the kind that had a lever) and coasters would make a lovely gift. Pick out a wonderful old basket, line it with bar towels and there ya go! Of course, liquor is optional.

 

This shop also sells furniture as well. For a school-aged child, it would be great fun to find an old wooden child's desk and chair, an old wooden pencil case, vintage schoolbooks and a wooden ruler. You could add writing and drawing paper, notebooks and construction paper, pens, pencils, crayons, chalk and perhaps a stapler, pencil sharpener and paste.

Spend Wisely

This is not to say you have to spend a fortune. You will find that many pre-owned, vintage items are very affordable, and run from a few dollars to a few hundred, it just depends on what your budget can handle and who you are buying for. Of course, there are always the gifts that cost nothing. The gift of time. Make plans to spend time with a long lost friend. Volunteer at a nursing home or animal shelter. Visit sick children in the hospital. Reconnect with family. Write a letter, yes, with paper and pen. Send it to a friend or relative you haven't talked to in ages. It doesn't always have to be about the almighty dollar, or who got the biggest and most expensive gift on the planet. Give from the heart.

Most Importantly, Have Fun!

The fun part of shopping like this is it can and should happen all through the year when you're out and about. By the time Christmas rolls around, you won't feel the sting of having spent too much money all at once. So, if you're stuck for ideas about what to buy, first, think of the person you are buying for. Think of their likes, hobbies, interests. Then make your list and head out to the antique stores, antique malls, and even so-called junk shops. You'd be amazed at some of the treasures that are out there.

Dish With Trish-Horrible Gifts

Comments 36 comments

marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

My worst gift was from my step sister who showed her complete disdain for me by purchasing a gift I'm sure took her exactly 2 months and 3 days - 2 hours and 48 seconds to find...after she thought about it for a nano second:  a completely ugly pair of thermal underwear, just like a man's, bone white, nothing I'd ever wear unless I was in the arctic circle.  She hated me but I had no idea until that precise moment.

I was so tempted to pay the dear one back with a container of sure deodorant, but my mom raised me better and I thanked her for one half of the nano second she took to buy the gift and wished she'd put the 50 cents in a sock and gave that to me instead, so I could have sent her a thank you card with the money.

Or an all day sucker, or a package of life savers.  We did not exchange gifts after that year, sticking to the quick pat hugs.  I never knew why she didn't like me, cuz I'm so sweet and everything, but I'm not bitter.

About the gift I mean.  It taught me that sometimes not receiving a gift is just fine.  LOL   I love your hub and think this year, everyones getting the gift of time from me.  and really, right now in my life, that is a very expensive gift.  I'm overwhelmed!!  =)) 


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 8 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

What a wonderful Hub, Trish! I know, because I am your best friend, that you find the most amazingly appealing gifts for your friends and family. I've often wondered how you do that, and you have hinted from time to time, but this Hub really shows what's behind it all, and, how to do it.

You do, always, give from the heart.

Thumbs up!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Marisue,

I'm sorry that happened to you.  I can honestly say I've never had that experience.  The only disappointment I ever had was on my 13th wedding anniversary when hubby thought a set of casserole dishes would be something I'd like.  I never even made a casserole!  If that was his idea of a hint, I didn't get it, or like it lol.  However, the problem with me is, I cannot hide feelings.  I may try but to no avail, whatever the reaction is, it's written all over my face. I'm quite sure he saw my dissapointment.  That's also why I've never made a good liar lol.

Seriously, time does have value, and like you, depending on your schedule, it can be an expensive proposition.  It's just too sad the country has gotten so far away from the days when an orange and maybe a brand new pencil were sufficient gifts.  I honestly think I lived in a different era before I was conceived :)

Anyway, thanks so much for stopping by, it's always nice to hear from you.


marisuewrites profile image

marisuewrites 8 years ago from USA

Hi trish, of course I was exaggerating --- only slightly, tho.  I remember everyone taking a small gasp when I opened the gift, I don't remember what I gave her, but there was an obvious difference.  And really, maybe she didn't mean anything negative; she just didn't take the time to get to know another.

Christmas this year will be simple, appreciating good times, good memories, small gifts, time, peace and freedom and family and friends, that's victory!!

=))  always enjoy your hubs and words.  


Dottie1 profile image

Dottie1 8 years ago from MA, USA

Great ideas and very thought provoking hub. I thought this complemented my hub very nicely so I linked you up. Hope you don't mind. Take a look.

http://hubpages.com/holidays/How-to-Add-that-Extra...


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

hi Sally,

Well, now you know my secret lol. And don't forget all the years I spent on Ebay. There's a lot to be said for armchair shopping as well. Of course, the key to it all is knowing what your friends and family are into.

Thanks for your comments dear friend.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

That's the spirit Marisue! Think positive. Speaking for myself, I sometimes find myself reading into things, and find out that I am oh so wrong. Unless of course, you're just being your kind self and trying to convince yourself that you're mistaken. I have also found that a lot of times, my first impression is wrong. But from what you say, kidding or not, I sense you are probably right.

Simple Christmases I find are the best. No rushing and no going into debt. Don't forget good food too though! :)

I'm glad you enjoy my writing, thanks again for stopping by.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Dottie,

Glad you enjoyed this hub. Thanks so much for linking me to your hub, that was very sweet of you.

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


annemaeve profile image

annemaeve 8 years ago from Philly Burbs

Trish, what a lovely hub, from a lovely person! I'm always so touched when you bring just the right thing for a present. In a way, it's not even the item that's so special, it's knowing that you care about a person and think about them often enough so they're always in your heart.

I love you! And that cat looks like Leo!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Anne,

Glad you enjoyed it.

It happens all the time. When I'm out and about, I will see something and think immediately, oh, that's Anne, or oh, that's Sally. My cousin's hubby is a car dealer, and he loves anything to do with old cars, as well as boats, horses, country music. Anyway, this past summer my male cousin and I were in my favorite junk shop and we spotted an old, huge metal Esso sign (an old brand of gasoline). We were very tempted to get it because his dad would have loved it, but it was a little out of our price range. But that's the kind of thing that happens.

I saw the kitty and fell in love with her/him? You'll have to send me some pics of your kitties :)

Love you too, thanks so much for paying me a visit. Long time no see!


AEvans profile image

AEvans 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

I can't stand the gift baskets and somehow they come and go every year, as I re-gift some od them. I do enjoy giving and receiving things from the heart, as those are definitely gifts that you will cherish for a lifetime. :0


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Aevans,

I agree. For me, it's knowing the person will use the gift. that makes me happy.

Thanks so much for stopping by.


AEvans profile image

AEvans 8 years ago from SomeWhere Out There

Trish, thanks for writing this article as it opens the door for so many especially this holiday season. :)


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

No problem. I enjoyed writing it, and I hope it inspired some folks. For me, this idea works for any occasion, whether it's a holiday, birthday or any special day.

Nice to see you again :)


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 8 years ago from Southern California, USA

I like thoughtful gifts and try to give these myself.  However, years ago I had a so called friend made a big production about buying me a gift, later to just discover it was a candle from the dollar store.  Not that there is anything wrong with that, but I would have just have been happier with a card than a big production over some over scented candle.  I try to keep in mind that sometimes people are not savvy with gift giving, but in some cases people want to look thoughtful and end up making you feel sort of bad.  Not that those gifts made me feel bad, but just sort of odd.  Great hub on a very time sensitive subject.  Hopefully shoppers will take note and start planning, today!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Sweetiepie

I understand what you're saying. I realize of course that many people have very limited funds, and in fact, may only be able to shop at a dollar store. These are instances where it is definitely the thought of giving that counts. So, it's really not, or shouldn't be, about how much money someone spends on a gift. And you're right, not everyone is a savvy shopper. There are many things I am not savvy about lol. I've received some very strange things as gifts, especially from co-workers. Since some of them really don't know me well, I've received things like a lint remover, a rubber jar opener, and a flashlight. My guess is that when all else fails, buy something practical. Thankfully, my mom taught me to be gracious, so I'd simply say thank you.

Glad you enjoyed the hub and thanks for your comments.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

I understand. If you don't have your heart in it, just don't get me anything. My sister who I see maybe once a year used to give me a book of poems or such that are always located at the cash register. She never really got to know or buy anything that spoke my name. I got to where I didn't even care. I was so glad when we decided to stop exchanging gifts.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi RGraf,

Wow, how sad.  Especially from a family member, I'm so sorry.  There comes a time when you have to say, enough is enough.  I don't understand people sometimes.  How hard is it to think of the person?  Even a gift card to your favorite bookstore or candle shop, or whatever, would be better than something grabbed at a checkout.  The only time I ever indulge in stuff like that is for little items for stocking stuffers, and that's rarely anyway, because there is really not much to pick from.

I wonder, have you given her things in the past that you know she'd like?  If so, was she pleased?  Did she let you know? 

Many times I received only a card, but the words spoke volumes because it was carefully chosen.  I'm very  sentimental when it comes to that, all I have to do is read the first one or two lines and the tears start lol.

I don't know the background of your relationship with your sister, so I can only offer suggestions.  Perhaps just write her a long letter, on paper, enclose it in a Christmas card and let it go.  If it somehow wakes her up, great, if not, apparently not much is lost.

Thanks for sharing your experience.


RGraf profile image

RGraf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

When I buy gifts I really spend a lot of time to make sure it screams the person's name otherwise, I buy them a gift card from a store they like so they can get what they want. Lately though, I donate to a charity in their honor. We've had so many deaths in the family due to cancer that it seems appropriate.

My sister is WAY older than me and I think because of that she never really got to know me well. Now that I live over 800 miles it away it makes it more difficult. It used to hurt, but over time I learned to accept how she is (she is like that with everyone) and it makes it better.


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 8 years ago from West Virginia

I am not wanting to NOT buy anything this year. Not because we can't afford anything, but more of everyone is trying to downsize their houses and treasures. I don't really need anything and what I got from my two daughters was the best gift we could use--a cord of firewood! I don't know maybe I am just not in the holiday spirit. I just don't know what to get anyone and Christmas is soooo commercial now. What to do? What to do??


Lady Guinevere profile image

Lady Guinevere 8 years ago from West Virginia

Boy that message came out all wrong! You can delete it if you want to.

What I was trying to say is that I don't want to buy anythng this year. The people in our families are scalling down the treasures they have. The thing that we already got was the best gift that we really neeed and that was a cord of firewood. Christmas has become tooooooo commercial. It's not that we don't have the money, it's more like I don't want what I get someone to end up in th trash or somewhere else. So what does one do? Is it too crass to just get others Christmas Cards?


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi RGraf,

Oh, well ok.  That explains a lot.  When children are so far apart in age, it does make a difference, almost like raising two families.  I'm glad to hear you've come to accept it, and since you say she does it to everyone, I wouldn't feel slighted.

Thanks again for stopping by :)


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Lady G,

LOL, that message came out fine.  I hear you!  I lost my 2nd job in August, so now I'm barely making it.  I really have no room for extras of anything, and I've already told my kids Christmas is going to be very sparse this year.  We're all feeling the crunch, and truthfully, I would love to just buy one gift for each of my kids and granddaughter, and that's it.  I doubt that will fly, despite reassurances that it's ok, so I may spring for two gifts each lol.  Except for my granddaughter, she will get a bit more because, after all, Christmas is supposed to be for kids anyway.  At least I think so.

I'm like you in that I don't mind practical things.  Every year on my list I would put things like coffee, a case or two of cat food, stuff like that, and they'd look at me and say what?  I said you don't understand, that helps me.  It's money I don't have to spend.  So far, it's never happened, but with the economy the way it is, maybe this will be the year :)

Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting.


robie2 profile image

robie2 8 years ago from Central New Jersey

Hi Trish--this is good advice and I bet you give great gifts. I can tell you really love shopping and giving to your friends.

Like you I love flea markets and antique shops where it is always easy to find goodies to suit. I find it easy to buy for people I know well and hard to buy for those I don't and for those occassions I have to admit I resort to Harry& David Gift baskets--safe, boring and impersonal :-)


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 8 years ago from Washington, USA

Trish- One of the best gifts I received was from my brother a collection of all my favorites songs on CD (with a CD cover To my loving sister). It was a very thoughtful gift.

Another of my favorite gifts which was very practical (as I had to stay over in school to finish my assignments) my dad bought a wonderful desktop computer.

This one is a labor of love from my mother she stitched the most wonderful sweater which I still wish I could fit in (I always felt my mom is hugging me when I used to wear it).


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi Robie,

I always did enjoy buying things that I know people will love.  I will admit though that there are some family members who get pretty much the same things from me since what they really want I can't afford.  For people I don't know well, I will attempt to ask someone if they know what that person is into, but failing that, I give a gift card.

Thanks so much for stopping by, good to see you :)


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

Hi countrywomen,

They are all well-thought out gifts.  It always baffles me why people wait to the last minute, and I'm guilty of it as well.  While I'm running around like a madwoman I say to myself, geeze, you had all year to think of something :)

Thanks so much for stopping by :)


countrywomen profile image

countrywomen 8 years ago from Washington, USA

Trish- I guess we just are humans and I have seen the older we get the more organized we get about buying gifts. My parents buy a list of presents for us when we visit them unlike us (me and my brother) only in the last minute buy something for them....LOL


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 8 years ago Author

I suppose you're right :)

My mom was great for buying all through the year.  I was the one who made her nuts every Christmas.  She'd sleep over for the holiday and we'd spend Christmas eve wrapping presents till the wee hours of the morning.  I envied her coming into my house with all her gifts for us wrapped.  She was one organized lady, but then, she didn't have little ones running around her house distracting her LOL

Thanks for stopping by!


SweetiePie profile image

SweetiePie 7 years ago from Southern California, USA

Trish,

You are totally right about how it is the thought that counts when it comes to gifting. I think I missed that.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 7 years ago Author

Hi Sweetie,

That's what I was taught growing up.  I'm very sentimental, and quite often a gift I've received from my kids growing up, and now from my granddaughter, mean the world to me.  i still have things my kids made, and as I type there is a tiny gift wrapped up in front of me that my granddaughter purchased with her money from the sale they held at her school.  I don't need furs, diamonds, fancy cars, just the thought that these children had me in mind when making or buying me a gift :)

Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


terrowhite profile image

terrowhite 7 years ago

Nice hub ! Thanks for sharing :)


quicksand profile image

quicksand 5 years ago

Hello Trish, how's your "17 year old" cat? Hope he's still around!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 5 years ago Author

Hi quicksand,

Wow! you remembered my cat! I am pleaased to say yes, she's now 18 and still kicking :) I do need to get her to the vet, however, as she tends to get sniffles frequently. Other than that, she is fine.

Thanks for asking!


quicksand profile image

quicksand 5 years ago

Phew! What a relief! I meant to ask you many moons back when I remembered a remark you had made on one of my hubs.

Say "ngyaew" to her for me. Cheers!


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 5 years ago Author

No, you haven't lost your memory :)

I will do just that! Thanks for stopping back.

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