red ribbon symbolizing love and gifts of charityBy Kelly Hodges
It’s easy to get caught up in the gift-giving frenzy that occurs this time each year.  The malls are packed, UPS drivers are working double shifts, and the credit card is wearing thin from all the swiping.  Buying gifts for the ones you love is not a bad thing, but sometimes it’s nice to look beyond the material and give something more meaningful.  Here are a few suggestions for gifts that can’t be found in a store, but are right in line with the spirit of the season.

1.  A List of Your Favorite Books.  Be thoughtful and consider all the books you’ve read in your life.  Which influenced you the most?  Which changed your life for the better?   Pick your favorite financial, personal growth, historical, or whatever other types of books you like to read.  Include your favorite pleasure read titles as well.  Purchase one or two to get them started if you like, and then let them make their way through the rest of the list throughout the year.

2.  A Personalized Cookbook.  Gather your favorite recipes and compile them to give as a gift.  Personalize it to the recipient; a novice chef doesn’t need to make a rack of lamb.  What are your favorite comfort foods, dishes for entertaining, and of course desserts?  If you’ve enjoyed meals at the homes of others get those recipes to include as well. Assemble a few staple ingredients to help get them started, and they can then enjoy this gift throughout the year as they feast on each delectable dish.

3.  A Gift of Talent.  What are your talents that you could share with others?  If you are a computer wiz teach your dad how to use his new iPad.  If you are mechanical change the oil in your brother’s car.  If you are handy hang those shelves your aunt needs hung.  If you are patient baby-sit for your nephews to give their parents a break.  Whatever your talent, using it to bless others is a great gift this time of year.

4.  A Gift of Charity.  Making a charitable donation on behalf of another is a gift that keeps on giving.  If a person has a cause that they are particularly passionate about then it’s easy to decide where to donate.  If you are unsure then present them with a few options of charities that you think they would support, with a description of each one, and have them decide where the money should go.  This is an amazing gift because it is extremely enjoyable to donate other people’s money!

5.  A Gift of Fellowship.  Families and friends always gather together in December, but sometimes lose touch for long stretches during the rest of the year.  Pledge to host gatherings all year long with those you love as a gift this year.  Give out invitations now to get together in March and May and August.  Commit to keep connections going throughout the year even when things get “busy.”  The gift of your time is one of the most valuable things you can give.

In December, many gifts are going to be given and received. But this year, try to focus on making those gifts more meaningful. Thanks for reading.

 

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Any opinions expressed herein are solely those of the author, and do not in any way represent the views or opinions of her employer or any other person or entity.

Not Investment Advice – Please read investment disclaimer.