BY ADELE CASANOVA
Whether a gift is in honor of a birthday, anniversary, or special holiday, when we give a gift to someone, we are saying, “Thank you for being here,” “Thank you for being a part of my life.” When we celebrate someone with a gift, we are essentially showing gratitude for their presence. Knowing that gift-giving is really a personal message of thanks and love, how can we create gifts that reflect that meaningful message? Not everyone is a craft wizard or has time to create complicated crafted gifts. But that doesn’t mean personal, meaningful gifts can’t be presented with sincerity. Here are some suggestions for special gifts that say, “Thanks for being you!”
Gifts of time and attention—create gift certificates with special meaning for your loved ones. These can include such things as “One 15-minute foot rub,” or “One Breakfast in Bed on Your Choice of Saturdays,” or even “Five Creative, Delicious Bag Lunches with All Your Favorite Foods!” Creating personal gift certificates is a great way for children to honor their parents and grandparents, brothers, and sisters without spending any money! Use fun, colored construction paper, and let children decorate them personally. Time, thoughtfulness, and personal attention are priceless gifts and create special moments to look forward to together.
Gifts of food – We all know of the typical gifts of sweets, cookies, etc., especially during the holidays, but what about homemade dinners, portioned out in freezable containers that can be thawed and eaten in the future at the receiver’s convenience? This idea is great for college students or young professionals who don’t have time to cook delicious healthy meals. Or elderly relatives without the energy to cook for themselves. You can make them their favorite meals at a fraction of the cost of purchasing ready-made meals, and the love and time you spend creating this personal gift will be very much appreciated. You can even purchase a freezer bag or cooler for transporting the frozen meals.
Gifts of personal heirlooms – When family members are missing those who have passed on, what sweeter way to honor both those already gone and those still here, wishing to remember them. For example, a special relative’s jewelry, pocket watch, or other memento placed in a specially purchased container can be a wonderful way to say, “Thank you for caring and helping to preserve precious memories.”
Gifts of special photographs – This is especially meaningful in this day of digital photos. Real, printed photos, singularly framed, or placed in a collage, are unique and can be so easily shared. Creating a timeline of a person’s experiences can be a fun way to use a photo gift. Examples can be a selection of photos from repeated events, like Christmases or birthdays, using just one photo from each year to depict the history of the events and bring back fond memories. This doesn’t need to be a complicated presentation of dozens of photos, but a simple selection of photos showing special memories and relationships. Printing and framing just one memorable photo of you and a family member or friend and presenting it as a gift really says, “Thanks for being part of my life!”
Gifts of preservation of family history – The restoration of photos and old documents, such as marriage certificates, graduation diplomas, etc., makes for very personal gifts. Taking the time to have these historical items restored and simply framed shows that you value the recipient and want to share personal, meaningful moments in your family history with them.
Gifts of social caring – When someone you love is celebrating an event during which you would normally give them a gift, give a gift to someone else in their name, someone in need. Either purchase something specific, such as an item from a “Giving Tree” for children or elderly persons, or give a monetary gift to a deserving non-profit in the name of your friend or family member. Or give a gift to your friend or family member’s loved ones who are in need. This gift-giving method pays it forward for everyone!
These gifting ideas are not rocket science, but just a reminder that personal gifts of time and attention are just as valuable, or even more so, than purchased gifts!