5 meaningful gifts among the holiday mayhem


According to CNN Money, Black Friday shoppers in America spent $12.3 billion this year. Read on for tips to take the materialism out of the holidays and replace it with meaningful gifts.
(Photo courtesy of Lindsey Shaun)

Christmas shopping has become more hectic than ever. Retailers encourage us to hit Black Friday sales before we’re even finished with our last bites of Thanksgiving turkey. New technology is at the top of Christmas wishlists for billions of adults and children. Simple, inexpensive gifts seem to be the exception.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) says Americans are expected to spend $737.95 each on holiday shopping this year. The NRF projects a collective $602.1 billion spent on gifts this year, which people may easily forget about before the next Christmas shopping frenzy rolls around.

Take a step back to simplicity and meaning with these holiday gift ideas:

1. Family photo books

Everyone loves flipping through a book of memories. Consider a different spin on the traditional family photo book such as a book of favorite family recipes, funny family quotes, a family history book or a book of grand kids-only photos for grandma. Easily compile your pictures in a digital keepsake photo book from a company like locally-based Heritage Makers. Heritage Makers storybooks start at $12.

Personalized gifts like this monogram charm necklace (from local Etsy shop Simply Me Jewelry by MJ), makes a meaningful Christmas gift. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Krantz)

Personalized gifts like this monogram charm necklace (from local Etsy shop Simply Me Jewelry by MJ), makes a meaningful Christmas gift. (Photo courtesy of Melissa Krantz)

2. Keepsake jewelry

A pendant necklace with children’s initials will help mom keep her loved ones close to her heart all the time. Jewelry can be personalized in other ways too — a scissors charm for a hairdresser, a ballerina charm for a dancer, or an inscribed message.

3. Handmade gifts

Consider foregoing store-bought presents this year and give a handmade gift. Compile your favorite recipes in a three-ring notebook for your sister or help your kids write a picture book for grandma (find blank picture books at the BYU Bookstore). Even a heartfelt, handwritten letter can make a great Christmas gift, especially in a world where e-mailing, Face-booking and the like prevail over handwritten expressions of love. The next best thing to a gift you made yourself is a locally handmade item. Check out The Beehive Bazaar or local Etsy shops for gift-worthy handmade items.

4. Gifts of Service

Offer a service you know someone will appreciate. If you make a killer fettuccine Alfredo, prepare a coupon with a photo of your master dish and the date you’ll come over to prepare it for your loved one. Or, if you have a skill someone would like to learn, such as sewing, speaking a foreign language or yoga, offer a series of private classes for your friend or family member. Consider simplifying gift exchanges with friends or family by doing a service project together. For a list of local organizations in need this year, click here.

5. Secret gifts

Write down an intangible gift you will give to loved ones and even yourself this year. Think spending more quality time with your family and less quality time with your phone, going on weekly dates with your spouse and being less critical of yourself. No need to broadcast your new goals — just make the changes and watch the positive effect they have on yourself and those around you. That kind of gift will last long after all of the presents are opened and the Christmas tree goes down.


Christmas by the (retail) numbers: 

Gift cards are the most popular American Christmas gift. Gift card sales are projected to reach an all-time high of $29.8 billion.

Six in 10 surveyed holiday shoppers would most like to receive gift cards for Christmas. Next on the list is clothing and clothing accessories, electronics, jewelry and home decor items.

Shoppers will spend an average of $129.62 on gifts for themselves this year.

The average American will do 40 percent of holiday shopping online.

*Information provided by the American Retail Federation.



Kim calls Utah Valley home, but she spent her high school years in Australia, where she learned to drive on the other side of the road and tolerate Vegemite. Since earning an English degree at BYU, Kimberly has worked for Covenant Communications, Utah Valley Magazine, Daily Herald and Eat My Words. When she isn't writing, Kim loves traveling, teaching Pilates, and spending time with her husband and three children. Read more from Kim at talkingwordy.com.

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