Now, I’m not talking about making a crocheted skirt for a Barbie doll that hides a roll of toilet paper (unless someone actually wants one of those). What I mean is taking a few mintues to sit down and think about what the recipient might actually like, need and appreciate. It’s a bit harder than running down to the mall or going online to shop – you really have to pay attention. But once you start listening, you’ll be amazed by how many tips your friends and loved ones inadvertently pass along!
Below are some examples. The Gift Certificates do not have to be “official” documents or gift cards from a store – they’re actually much better if you make them yourself. You get to add the particulars (“valid any weekend in January” or “call one week in advance to make your appointment”) and they reflect your personality much better than some corporate plastic card.
Off the top of my head:
For a baker: does someone you know like to bake? Quality ingredients are tremendously expensive. But what if you purchased some nuts still in their shells, cracked them, and presented the ready-to-bake-with-gems them with a bow? Or one perfect, beautiful bar of organic Fair Trade Chocolate? Yum!
Photo credit: Sonicwalker on Flickr
For a movie buff: Gift certificate for a movie rental, with popcorn and drink of choice included. Perhaps the person gets to choose the movie, and you pick it up and pop the popcorn. Or buy a used DVD – there are zillions of fantastic films that are just waiting to be watched. You could even include a meal to go with the film ( Indian food to go with Slumdog Millionaire , a big organic salad for Food, Inc., champagne and cucumber sandwichs without crusts with a side of Gilbert & Sullivan for Chariots of Fire, fish & chips and Guinness for Millions , a vegetarian meal for Babe , fish sticks for Finding Nemo, and last but not least, how about ladyfingers for Shaun of the Dead?
Photo credit: Food Pornographer on Flickr
For a pet lover: How about a Gift Certificate for a dog walk, or a week’s worth of litter box cleanings? Some homemade dog treats, poop bags (any plastic bag will “doo”) and a dogwalker’s leash pouch?
For a tired mom (are there any other kind?): a certificate for an hour of baby-sitting, or for doing a load of laundry (wash, dry & fold). Or what if you just brought dinner over one night, and then stuck around to wash the dishes?
Photo credit: Ferrous on Flickr
For a picky eater: Do you have a niece or nephew who is a picky eater? Who only eats, say hot dogs? Or top ramen? Or some other ghastly thing? What if you got a package or three of the favorite item, tied up in a bow? This would take the heat off the kid for at least one meal, and also provide entertainment during gift-opening time.
For a book lover: What about gifting your latest favorite book? Similarly, what about compiling a list of everyone-in-the-family’s favorite book to give to the family bookworm? It’s a nice way to connect with folks with whom you may have little in common.
For a vegan: Vegans are some of the easiest people to please that I’ve ever met. Often faced with a dearth of choices at family get-togethers, what if you brought a vegan dish with extras packed to go? Vegan baking is really quite easy, and most recipes can be made with ingredients already in your kitchen. Find recipes at Post Punk Kitchen, or VegWeb.
For someone with gluten intolerance: what about a gluten free treat (recipes here) and/or a bag of rice flour?
For an art lover: a trip to a museum, accompanied by you, lunch included.
Photo credit: ShutterBRI on Flickr
For a sports fanatic: a gift certificate for exclusive use of the TV during a particular game (i.e. Super Bowl), with snacks provided for X number of friends.
Someone who commutes on a limited budget: a month's worth of transit passes.
Photo credit: Thomas Hawk on Flickr
For home-sick me: a trip home...
Photo credit: shutterBRI on Flickr
See what I mean? Once you get started, it gets easier. Good luck, and happy not-very-much-shopping!