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How to Plan Your Christmas Gifts

Oct 31, 2007
Give yourself at Christmas; there really is no more wonderful of a gift. Out of the pretty box you give can fly all sorts of rare intangibles, once the ribbon is off and the lid is lifted. Affection, nostalgia, laughter, shared memories all these can crackle in the tissue paper along with grace and generosity. I was watching, a gift can say: last summer I could see you needed a better tennis racket. I was listening, a gift can tell: I heard you say you liked old cars... or Beethoven... or adventure stories.

The art is to put into every package more than the gift itself. We should think to ourselves that any gift will rattle around in any box unless the box is stuffed with human values, with joy and smiles and loving-kindness. Put yourself in every Christmas package.

Christmas Comes But Half the Year

Stretch your Christmas shopping out a bit: if you see something in September that's just right for somebody, buy it or order it; Christmas will always come along, every year.

Keep your eyes open all during the year, during sales, off-seasons, general shopping, for the odd, delightful, pertinent gifts that are so meaningful at Christmas; buy them, tag them, and store them away.

When you travel during the year, anywhere, buy for Christmas gifts as well as for souvenirs.

Think well in advance of the gifts that take a whole year to accomplish: a year's collection of the college newspaper for a son at an Army camp; pictures taken the same day of every month of the new baby, for grandparents far away, to be given in an album.

Have a notebook or card index to jot down hints during the year of things that other people would like; be alert to the wishes expressed idly by your family and friends.

Well ahead of the holiday make whatever discreet inquiries are necessary about size or taste, etc.

Mark a calendar for the days when materials for fruitcake, etc. need to be purchased; have some foolproof reminder for whatever takes many weeks before Christmas to do.

Investigate Christmas Clubs, and decide whether they suit your family's buying and spending habits.

Giving To Children

Consciously take notes during the year; many a real desire is forgotten or overlooked by the child in the dazzle of Christmas stores.

Take the children with you, once, early in the shopping season, to the biggest store in your city; say that it is not a trip to buy, and stick to it. Let it be just for looking, and allow time for the children to see and think about everything they see.

For very young children, do not buy for Christmas a gift that is out of season; a fishing rod he longed for at the beach last August will have little meaning for the very small boy when he sees it under the tree at Christmastime.

Avoid at all costs the gift a child is not yet ready for; a stamp album given half a year too soon may set up boredom where a little later a lasting interest might have developed.

Wrap everything. Wrap lots of little presents, too, and disguise packages that might be obvious. Under no circumstances tease the child by withholding the one present he has counted most on, if you have bought it for him.

If there is not time to set up a complicated toy on Christmas morning, put it away somewhere safely until that can be done; many a fine gift does not survive the early hours, and pieces are stepped on or thrown away accidentally, and directions are lost.

If there are children of different ages, take pains to protect all their gifts from each other's ravages, and to protect the younger children from harm.

Try to include in every child's Christmas a gift for the day itself, such as a Christmas book to be read or a record to be played.

With a little thought and planning, Christmas gift-giving can be as rewarding for the giver as the recipient.
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