11/22/2010 2:20 PM ET|
Give one good gift this year
Instead of burying a loved one with lots of smaller, not-so-special gifts, why not pool your resources with other folks to buy a truly memorable present? Start with these 9 ideas.
For some people, a mound of gifts under the tree is the very essence of the holidays.
The rest of us are having second thoughts.
It's not just the hassles of shopping and the outlay of so much money. It's knowing that so often our best efforts misfire, that what we hope will be a hit will instead disappoint.
I'd like to suggest that this year we do our part to reduce clutter, waste and frustration by encouraging the "one good gift" approach.
What that means is that instead of raining a pile of little presents on each other, we band together with like-minded friends or family and buy group gifts, encouraging others to do the same when buying gifts for us.
Not everybody likes the group-gift approach, and I'll deal with that in a minute. Right now, I'll enumerate some of the advantages:
You can give, or get, something really cool. The Web is aglow with "10 great gifts for $10 or less," but let's just say that not all the options are guaranteed winners. Price and desirability aren't always directly correlated, but you do increase your odds of wowing the recipient (or being wowed yourself) when budgets are pooled.
Liz Pulliam Weston
You can help a brother out. Or a sister, or any other relative or friend who's fallen on tough financial times. The recipient of your gift doesn't have to know the cost wasn't split equally among the group, so those whose budgets are tight can be part of a gift that's nicer than what they could have afforded on their own. Your Money message board poster "cykeprof" regularly pools money with her sisters to buy their mother nice gifts.
"Two of us are financially secure, and one is poor. I chip in mine and most of my sister's share," cykeprof wrote. "I have it, and she doesn't, and hey, she's my sister."
You're doing your part to banish clutter. Every new possession brings with it a burden. You have to find space for it in your house, and you often have to devote time to it -- dusting it, finding batteries for it, reading the manual. Even if you hate it, you have to figure out how to dispose of it without risking offense. How much better it is to be selective about the items we give and get, valuing quality over quantity.
It means less time in the mall. The more you group-gift, the less time you spend researching purchases, battling crowds, wrapping presents and (I'd wager) dealing with returns. Some of you find this fun, I know, but for many of us, a little holiday shopping goes a long way. (Electronics retailer Best Buy even offers a group gift card.)
This approach may require some getting used to. Letting go of the gift-giving mania can take a while, wrote "genuine ga sweet potato."
"The first year . . . I was bummed. I enjoy finding the perfect something for everybody," she admitted. "Now, I like it. I can afford to take more than one name off of the Angel Tree & give something to someone who has no family."
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