SHERIDAN — The Christmas season is here, and that means many of us will spend our time — and perhaps money — choosing gifts for our loved ones.
But how do we find that perfect gift? Could it be an item? Is it money? A gift card? Or is the best gift of all — our time?
For an item to be especially meaningful, it should have a purpose, Kristi Von Krosigk, owner of The Union at The Montgomery, said. That might mean giving an item that tells a story, serves as a reminder of treasured times or sends a message of love.
“Gift giving comes from the heart,” Von Krosigk said. “Knowing something will be specifically meaningful” to the person on the other end makes the giving process special for both parties.
If you want to give a gift card or money, Von Krosigk suggests asking yourself: “What is the purpose for giving the gift?”
“Is it heartfelt, or is it simply an obligatory gesture?” she said. “If you decide to give a gift card or money, think about adding a personalized message that is genuine and from the heart.”
Von Krosigk said she likes to gift simple things, like a book or notebook for thoughts, pictures or quotations.
Ask yourself the following, she says: “When the holiday time is long gone, can the person reconnect with the gift you gave? Does it remind them of the value of your friendship and/or love? Can it generate a story of meaning?”
Some of Von Krosigk’s most well-received gifts weren’t necessarily the ones with monetary value, but rather an intention.
Her daughters gifted their grandparents “100 Gathered Thoughts,” which now sits on a special table by the hearth, with passages also posted around her daughters’ walls at college. Von Krosigk said both her parents and her children take meaning from that shared gift.
Pleasing scents can also resonate with people, bringing feelings of comfort, pleasure or familiarity. To that end, candles, bath products, coffees/teas or essential oils all can have a personalized feel.
Time is perhaps the most valuable gift, she said, because we all have only a set amount of it.
Betsy Pearson, a Certified Life Coach with the Martha Beck Institute, said that gifts delight us because they can fulfill us in three aspects of time: the future, the present and the past. The anticipation of a gift — and especially for children awaiting the arrival of the holidays — is often more fulfilling than a gift once it has arrived.
Anticipation does not have to dissipate with the onset of adulthood, she said. When we remember why we are doing what we are doing, for example, by remembering who will be unwrapping our gifts or sitting at our holiday table, the experience of preparing for the holidays can become a gift to ourselves.
Pearson also recommends focusing on the giving aspect of gift giving, rather than the moment of reception — but not for moral or altruistic reasons.
“It’s just actually more pleasant to focus on giving,” Pearson said. “It’s kind of selfish then, in that way,” and if we can impart this idea on our children, that will become a lifelong gift to them.
Homemade items are always a viable option, she said, and consumables don’t add to an inevitable pile of things that can accumulate. Making items also satisfies the giver’s desire to live in the past, present and future: To create a meaningful gift, time must be given over to planning, and once made, the giver can watch their loved ones open the gift and imagine them enjoying as long as it lasts.
Experiential gifts, which are the best in theory, may leave something to be desired in the opening — or present — stage, Pearson said.
“We all want something to open and hold on to at the moment of (giving),” Pearson said.
Especially for kids, the promise of a trip doesn’t feel the same as a tangible gift. Pearson suggested wrapping a framed picture of a location for planned travel, or making an old fashioned coupon book for hugs, baked goods or a fishing trip.
The ultimate goal, she said, is to have a genuinely fun giving experience, preferably before and building up to holidays, before any gifts are ever actually given.
By Carrie Haderlie