Chicago / holiday / modernity / travel

The frenzy begins

I am one of those people who start thinking about Christmas gifts as soon as…well, sometimes as soon as one year’s Christmas ends and the gap between the next begins! Seriously, I’ve known what my sister’s Christmas gift will be this year since…January. It’s a little over the top, I know, but I really believe in giving gifts that will (hopefully) mean something.

Gift cards are great, but they don’t mark what a gift should really be–a memento, a token of affection, a laugh, or a mark of the shared experience between two people.

With that in mind, I’ll be posting occasional gift guides as we head into the shopping season (Thanksgiving has always, and probably will always, mark the moment when I can safely talk about Christmas without seeming like an overzealous lunatic).

There are some people for whom gift-shopping is daunting, and some who are so easy to shop for that the gift list practically writes itself. But for both of these groups, there are a couple of things to think about when going beyond the gift card:

1) No-brainer: gift something homemade, especially if you are talented at art, crafts, cooking/baking, etc. But don’t be intimidated if you’re not! For these kind of gifts, the relationship between giver and recipient is important. Obviously, giving something homemade to someone very close to you will have more meaning. A child’s finger painting will always have value to a loving parent. On the other hand, your mailman might appreciate a scrapbook of your time together, but probably not.

2) Buy something the person would never buy for themselves! If you have the resources, this could mean a well-crafted, pricier thing that the recipient has been craving forever. Monogrammed gifts fall into a large price range and are pretty great in this category. Or go for something quirky and funny that the recipient might be embarrassed to spend hard-earned money on, but would love to receive.

3) Shop with location in mind. Ever since I’ve gone off to college, there has been something of a separation between the two worlds of my existence…but this is great when it comes to gifting, because it means that I can bring a little bit of the unique Chicago shopping scene back to my family and friends. It also ensures that we don’t all get each other the same top from the Forever21 at the Dayton Mall. Awkward.

In the weeks to come, I’ll be blogging in the style of my favorite magazine features: the ever-present gift guide. Stay tuned!

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