Unwanted Gifts

15334772_SDespite people’s best attempts to buy gifts you’ll love, almost every year someone will hand you a present that isn’t to your taste.

Whether the gift is something you already have or something you would never buy in a million years, you have a decision to make. What can you do to escape the kindness of others without filling your home with things you don’t want or need? Here are a few options.

Return it. Most stores will provide gift receipts if you ask. You may want to mention this casually to those family members and friends who purchase doubtful things on a regular basis. You can talk about how you always get gift receipts for anything you buy in case something doesn’t fit or doesn’t work. Even without receipts, most stores will accept returns for a week or so after the holidays. Practice the words, “Oh, what a lovely gift. Wherever did you find it?”

Re-gift it. The big cotton cardigan in the exact shade of green to make you look jaundiced may be perfect for your red-headed aunt. If it doesn’t suit you, that doesn’t mean that it won’t work well for someone you know. Think about it.

Schedule an exchange party. Get a handful of like-minded friends who have well-meaning givers in their lives and engage in a trade. You may already have a waffle iron or popcorn popper, but someone else could use it, while that curling iron is just the thing for you.

Just keep it. If you have the closet space, sometimes the kindest thing is to keep it so it can be on display for visits. If you have a guest room, that’s the perfect place for those items that aren’t really to your taste. After all, how often do you walk in that room?

Agree to stop exchanging gifts. There are times when the best gift is no gift at all. You could buy each other lunch or dinner or treat each other to a movie. And you never know, maybe your friend or family member cringes every time he or she opens one of your gifts too!

Last Minute Gift Ideas

11233821_SIt’s less than a week until everyone unwraps presents under the tree – are you finished with your shopping? If not, here are some gift ideas to make these next few days easier.

Shop non-standard stores: Department and discount stores are crazy busy this time of year. Instead, how about checking out gift boutiques in smaller shopping centers? Consignment and antique shops have a wonderful collection of gift possibilities and are much less crowded than other stores this time of year.

Give an experience: Tickets to a play or concert, or a gift-certificate for the play or concert of their choice, can be easily arranged online with minimal effort. If you make sure your choice suits the taste of the recipient, this can be a truly special gift.

Give a service: A day at a spa, a home cleaning service, or a catered meal at home can be a real treat for busy families. If money is tight, how about offering to chauffer the kids on their carpools for a couple of days to give parents a little time off, or babysitting to give them a chance to get away for an evening?

Gift certificates: This may seem like a lazy gift, but you can make it special. For example, give a teenager a set of gift certificates that add up to a nice date – movie tickets and dinner at a special restaurant for example. Others may prefer an iTunes gift certificate allows them to buy their own music online. Look for opportunities to encourage people to try a new restaurant that you particularly like – combine a gift certificate with a copy of the menu and write comments in the margin to indicate your favorite dishes.

If you’ve procrastinated, use your imagination instead of creating stress for yourself, and you may find that this year’s gifts are the best ever!

Gift wrap that grabs people

23430917_SIt’s true that once unwrapping starts, the gift’s the thing. But until that moment, making the giftwrap something special adds to the excitement and allure of the holidays.

If you want your gifts to capture attention even before they’re opened, here are a few ideas to help your presents have a presence under the tree.

Go metallic: This is actually a very easy way to make your gifts eye-catching. This photo shows both gold and silver, but you may want to choose one or the other. Select one or two metallic papers, and two or three types of ribbon in a matching metallic finish. Vary the ribbons and papers to create a charming vignette of shiny gifts. Bring the bling to your holiday gifts.

Select a single look: Choose one pattern of gift wrap and a ribbon that works well with it, and wrap everything the same. Consider buying one of the wire-edged ribbons available at warehouse clubs this time of year, with many yards for under ten dollars. Having all your presents in the same design will create a signature wrap for you every year that people will look forward to seeing.

6245227_SGo for the unusual: If you have small gifts, wrapping them in money – either U.S. or foreign currency – makes an intriguing look. (Of course, you don’t have to use the Ben Franklin shown here – dollar bills will cover it.) Some people like to wrap gifts in the Sunday funnies. You can use wrapping that adds to the gift inside – for example a dishtowel can wrap a kitchen tool or a scarf can cover a new shirt.

If you let some of the creativity you used to pick out your gifts to choose the right wrapping choice, you may be surprised to see that your presents are appreciated even before they’re opened.