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TheGivingMachine: Top Tips to Enjoy the Giving Season

So it’s creeping up on us again – the annual season of stress that is the run-up to Christmas and yet it really shouldn’t be that way. In this article, I thought I’d offer some ideas to make it far more enjoyable for you and those that you’d like to get gifts for. I’m basing this on our own family experience and general chit chat with TheGivingMachine Team.

Usually, we start out with the regular list of people to buy gifts for. In our family, there are a number of winter birthdays too so that adds some additional gifts to the list too.  The first question to ask is whether your gift-giving has just gone well over its sell-by date. Over the last few years, we have agreed with several aunts, uncles and cousins that as we generally have everything we need and remote gift-giving has become a bit formulaic, just a card and a bottle of wine (or even just a card) is fine. It doesn’t detract from what people mean to you, it just means that perhaps the best gift is a regular phone call to catch-up every now and then.

I remember I used to get handkerchiefs, socks and the odd bottle of Brut aftershave when I was younger. But nowadays, since many people already have much of the stuff they need, experiential gifts just makes more sense compared to buying things for the sake of it. I often think of a bottle of wine as an experience to give!

When giving a bottle of wine, it’s a nice touch to write a personal note on the bottle itself with a silver marker pen. This makes it a bit more special and means it won’t accidentally be given away as a gift to someone else – when popping round to a neighbour’s house for example.

It also means that when the bottle is being enjoyed, the gift is remembered. I often send a text to whoever got me the bottle to say thank you again and tell them how much I’m enjoying it. Of course, this can be extended to other drinks too and with non-alcoholic gins around these days, there’s bound to be something for everyone.

For Uni students and young couples living in new homes, Just Eat vouchers are a great idea. Who doesn’t like a bit of takeaway to make life easier after a hard day’s work? And hopefully, there’s plenty of choice in most locations. Depending on their local area, cinema vouchers or theatre vouchers are also a great idea.

For one of our more elderly friends, we get a copy of the local theatre programme and ask him to choose a performance he would like to go to. We’ll book tickets up and take him out for the evening. We’ve found that these kinds of gifts – the gift of time – is sometimes a favourite gift to give. My mother is, unfortunately, experiencing quite severe dementia but is well looked after in a home. My father is still very active in the local community but like so many people his age, he doesn’t really need anything but I’ve enjoyed thinking about where he and I could go together for a day out as a gift. We’ve been to a couple of museums and tried a few restaurants and I’m busy thinking about this year’s gift as I write this.

For younger children, there are some great books to get and old fashioned pencil cases with a personalised set of colouring pens or pencils along with a colouring book often make great gifts. The Great Little Trading Company is great for these. An extra fiver or tenner in the pencil case could also make a nice surprise too.

If you really are stuck, there will be the usual plethora of emails telling you what’s hot and what’s not coming all too soon. It would be remiss of me not to mention that you can: Shop via TheGivingMachine and give for free when buying gifts, buy GivingVouchers so that someone else can enjoy giving too and buy GivingLottery gift vouchers to give the chance of winning up to £25,000.

The main thing is to try to keep your gift list to those you really would like to get gifts for and be honest with other people if it has become difficult for them and you – they’ve probably been thinking the same for a while too. Then think about the simple things that would make them smile and not be something to put on a shelf and be forgotten or worse thrown away.

Just in case you were asking, I’m partial to a drop of rich red wine and I’ll always send you a text when I’m enjoying it.