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The do’s, don’ts of gift-giving

Believers of Mayan prophecy count down remaining days

December 6, 2012

By Stephanie Metzger

The holiday season is all about giving, but finding the right gift can be a tedious task. Your grandmother may already have a Snuggie, you don’t know if your little sister has grown out of her Big Time Rush phase, and your girlfriend already has six pairs of Ugg boots.

If you are unsure of what to buy for friends and family, here are a few ideas.
Instead of buying mom the typical jewelry or Bath and Body Works soap, think outside of the materialistic box. Instead of giving Mom your money in the form of a gift, give her your time. Buy her tickets to a show or play she might enjoy. If that’s a bit out of your price range, spring for dinner and a movie. Now that you’re in college, you probably don’t get to see your mother as often, so spend some quality time with her. She’ll appreciate it.


Same thing goes for dad. Spring for tickets to see the Browns, Indians or Cavs — make sure you buy him a beer or two so he can bear the pain though. If he isn’t a sports guy, try for concert tickets or dinner at a cool, obscure restaurant.

If you have an older sister, think about cookbooks. If you’re on a tight budget, make your own cookbook by compiling recipes for her. Also consider personalizing something for her, such as hand towels or a necklace with her initials.

Your older brother may be tough to buy for if all he really wants is an iPad or Kate Upton. Consider buying him something useful, such as the Nike+ FuelBand, which features an LED display that tells the user how much more work they need to put into their workout. If he isn’t a fitness guy, consider a brewing kit. Check Brooklyn Brew Shop’s website for a variety of unique kits and mixes, such as Coffee and Donut Stout or Jalapeno Saison.

Younger siblings tend to be easier to buy for because all they want are toys. If Mom and Dad have an iPad, consider buying the sibs one of those karaoke systems that connect to an iPad to display the lyrics. If that’s outside your price range, think about a game — but not a videogame. Try for something active, like Twister Dance for girls or Seedling’s Design Your Own Superhero Cape for aspiring Clark Kents.

Ladies, don’t lie to yourself. Your boyfriend doesn’t want tickets to see Nicki Minaj in concert with you. Instead, try for an activity the both of you will enjoy. If neither of you have hit the slopes, spring for a pair of day passes at a ski resort and invest in some lessons. The two of you can spend time together while embarrassing yourselves as you spend the day falling down repeatedly. If the outdoors aren’t your thing, go for a pair of day passes at Kalahari or plan a roadtrip for the summer.

Guys, if you buy your girl a Coach bag, make sure she actually likes Coach. Jewelry and teddy bears are cute, but try to do something that says you put a lot of thought into the gift. If she has a favorite athlete, consider buying her their jersey. Also think about taking her on a trip. If money is tight, get creative. Take her around the city and take photos together. Then, have the photos published in an album for her.

For other friends and family, skip the stereotypical, superficial gift card. Yes, they can buy whatever they want, but there’s no thought or personalization behind it. For the out-of-towners, buy them some Great Lakes beer. My uncle, a Michigan native, always stocks up on it while visiting during the holidays since he can’t get it back home. For the golfers in your life, try the laser putter. It simply attaches to any putter and shows golfers the line on which the ball is headed. It’s an inexpensive ($25) way to improve one’s golf game. Hit up Teavana for a tea infuser and some loose leaf tea, or try their 12 Days of Holiday Gift Set, which features 12 samples of different teas. For a close friend, think about the InstaWatch, a watch that features one of your own photos uploaded from Instagram on the face.

Finally, keep in mind that the holidays are for giving. If there’s someone on your list who has it all, or doesn’t need any material items, consider donating to a charity in their name. Doing so does some good, and it’ll make you feel good.