December 03, 2012

What Makes a Great Holiday Gift?

Hey Santa...Still Waiting!

So last week we looked at some of the awful holiday gifts for 2012; how about this week we look at some good ideas for gift giving?

And for those of you already sick to death of my unrelenting ebook whoring, be reassured that the newly released Cranky Fitness Exercise eBook does NOT appear on this list best gift ideas!

However, that doesn't mean I ain't gonna mention the book thing, because I am so freakin' grateful for all the support I've gotten from readers and other bloggers. It's still about at 9 billion in the Amazon sakes rankings, but I'm pretty sure every darn copy sold has come from a blog reader or a personal friend. I figure if it can keep dribbling out a few sales here and there and attract a few stars or non-scathing reviews, some day a stranger might even find it and buy it!

Which, before we get to the real list, leads to yet another Gift Idea for Me:

 OK, that works too...

Please let me know via email or in the comments if you did something nice regarding the ebook like buying or mentioning it somewhere, so I can thank you! Or if you notice someone else has done something nice and you want to clue me in that would be awesome. If you are a blogger or other social media type, I'd love to link to you or tweet about you or whatever. And I've got future ebooks in mind about weight loss/body image, motivation, nutrition, aging, advanced exercise tips etc and can always use more Cranky-Fitness-Friendly references.

(And yes, I know people are being supportive because they are generous, and are not looking for payback. However, consider saying something anyway because it would make ME feel less like a self-absorbed asshole for not making time to do blog rounds and noticing this stuff myself). 

A few random examples:

Sorry, Not Your Usual Gift Guide:
The list below is not the conventional parade of shiny products, rather it's just some general thoughts about gift giving.

Why the philosophical take?

Actually, I started this post with a bunch of notions about gadgets and gear and healthy snacks and classes and memberships. But then I discovered I couldn't make myself get within 10 feet of my laptop for several days without a shiver of revulsion. I was having a serious attitude problem about finishing the post.

 Dramatic Re-Enactment

Why? Well, specific suggestions felt way too subjective!  Why would I think your recipient's unique feet would feel comfortable in the same pair of running shoes I like, or that they'd crave the possibly barfy-sounding snacks I've discovered, or want to play with the weird exercise toys I favor? Wait, that sounds dirty.  I mean this kinda toy, which I bought myself over the summer.


Isn't it ADORABLE?

And then when I tried to go generic, I found myself repeating myself with advice from years past.  I couldn't make myself write the same ol' shit about specialty food items and yoga mats and stretchy bands and cooking accessories and heart rate monitors and running shoes and water bottles and exercise dvd's and healthy lifestyle magazines.   Like you don't know they exist?

But fear not! There are helpful lists all over the web, and from what I hear, Pinterest is your new BFF anyway, right?

So instead, we have:

Random Musings about Best Christmas/Holiday Gifts!


Healthy Gifts


Giving something that is fun but also helps your loved one stay fit and healthy is satisfying at all sorts of levels!

However, you gotta be careful with healthy gifts, especially if you have an Agenda.  These types of gifts are best reserved for people who actually care about their health. Uncle Ralph who eats lunch every day at Hooters and regards walking further than where he's parked the car as an "extreme" sport, is not a good candidate for fitness gear or an organic vegetable-of-the-month club membership. Get Uncle Ralph a nice bottle of scotch and some lotto tickets and forget any plans to reform him.

However, I do want to mention that one gift that falls in this category is the Healthy Cook Book.



Lots of options here, but an excellent on that you might be able to win for free is Roni Noone's Green Lite Bites over at the Big Girl Bombshell giveaway post. It's even autographed! But act fast, because the deadline in tonight, Dec 3.

Gifts that Support a Deserving Person or Cause.


And yes, despite the slight WTF flavor of the photos above, this is an actual gift item you can purchase through the gift shop at the Humane Society. (Kitty DJ sold separately at an animal shelter near you).

This way, your recipient gets a cool gift, but you get credit for giving twice, because you are also supporting a worthy organization!

A similar, less WTF item might be Mizfit's cool Skort and matching top which benefits Mayan Families. These are featured on Hungry Girl's gift ideas which includes some other charity-friendly ideas!

Go Miz!

Gifts of Time, Experience, or Adventure

Rather than give a Thing, sometimes it's great to give a person a chance to DO something they might not treat themselves to, like a weekend learning how to rock-climb, or a pamper-fest at a fancy spa, or a wine-tasting adventure, or a Museum/Zoo/Aquarium/Theater type outing, or even one of those popcorn and movie packages some theaters sell.

Or perhaps your loved one is stressed, burned out, and overwhelmed and could use some housecleaning, healthy meal delivery, a closet-organizer type consultation, or some other time-saver? 


Santa baby?  Elizabeth Falkner as my personal chef would really rock.

Gifts that are Eco-Friendly


Buying or making eco-friendly gifts made from recycled stuff is another one of those win-win gift ideas.

Not quite THAT open-minded about the aesthetics of previously used materials?

There are lots of eco-friendly gift retailers out there with non-toilet like gifts!  And what the heck, one of them is a friend of mine who makes all kinds of items like jewelry, cool stuff with cork, and beautiful baskets hand woven from plastic bags that would otherwise be blighting the landscape or strangling innocent wildlife.  And she's really, really nice. That's gotta count for something right? Check her out at Sarahracha.



Gifts that are Flexible


Some recipients love surprises and would rather have you risk buying something slightly off target, as long as you tried. It's the thought that counts, right?

Others of us hate the notion of you spent a fair amount of  time or money on something we're going to have to pretend very hard to like, and the more we should like it but don't, the lousier we feel.

If you have a recipient on your list who sucks at faking it when your awesome gift is not right on the money, consider a creatively wrapped...Gift Card!  In my crotchety opinion, these are the best of both worlds if you're the least bit unsure of what someone might want.  If you choose a retailer of Something Fun, you can ensure your gift doesn't end up being windshield wiper fluid or dishwasher detergent.  Yet it leaves room for flexibility without having to put the recipient through the mile-long Refund/Exchange lines at the mall.

But gift certificates are not for everyone.  So go ahead and guess if your loved one likes surprises!



What do you like to get people for the holidays?  What do you love to receive?



Photos:
Jet pack: Fir0002/Flagstaffotos
Cupcakes: Kristin A 
Airshorts: Plaid Stallions 
Reenactment and Cash: Free Digital Images
Toilet planter: inquisitr
Elizabeth Falkner: her website.
Sweater thing: Regretsy

39 comments:

  1. I've always enjoyed finding special gifts for people! I also know some people who would rather be told what other's want.

    I suppose it's all good!

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    1. Bet you come up with some great gift ideas Dr. J!

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  2. Times have certainly changed. I'm not sure if it is a convenience thing, a lazy thing, or just that we've become so picky about things, but cash or a gift card is just about the only safe gift anymore unless the person has specificaally played the "You know what I really want?" game. Cash kinda ruins the surprise, but the surprise seems to be what everyone is trying to avoid.

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    1. Lazy/picky? You've just described my holiday gift giving and receiving style perfectly! But I'm impressed by others who are far more creative and open minded than I am.

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  3. Firstly, that sweater thing in the last pic is both terrifying to the claustrophobe in me and fascinating to my Star Trek fan side. It looks like the salt-sucker from "The Unreal McCoy" (not sure of the title) episode.
    I like to give things that people want, and I like to receive what I want. That said, my fave gifts to give are the ones that we buy in foreign lands such as dark roast coffee right from Costa Rica bought at a roastery in San Jose or rum from Cuba.

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    1. Love "A salt-sucker from the Unreal McCoy." You are an encyclopedia of useful Star Trek references!

      And love gifts brought by travelers from foreign lands, excellent idea.

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  4. I am a terrible shopper, and can never think of anything good to get anyone. I (thankfully) have a small circle of people to buy for.

    I love to get books (or gift certificates for books, and let's face it, if you give me money I'll probably spend it on books) because I have a huge queue of books I want to read.

    Otherwise, unless I get real specific, it's tough. I am thankful to be in a situation where if I want something throughout the year, I am able to afford it, so there's few things I want that I don't yet have. I also live in a really small condo, so I have little room to store things, whether they are things I want/need, or things that other people have given me that they think I want/need. Experience type gifts are fun because it can be a good way to try something different, and it doesn't take up space!

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    1. Books are awesome aren't they? And yeah, we've got a small condo too so I totally agree with the limitations on Things, however useful or interesting. But there's always room for adventure!

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  5. I am giving charity donation gifts again this year. I have just gotten really finished with the consumerism. You can have some fun too with giving dad some pigs (sexist or not unknown) to be donated to a village in Africa. I am giving the guys in the office a card from High Hefner letting them know they are getting some chicks. Mom gets an old goat so she has a pair of them. You get the idea!

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    1. Cindy I love the idea of the "funny" animal gifts. These are great gifts anyway even without the humor, but what an awesome idea to combine it with an amusing animal themed card!

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  6. Air shorts? I don't need no air shorts. I can manufacture my own air with gaseous farting. sad-butt-true

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    1. Ah, yes, a big can of beans is probably cheaper! :)

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  7. I have given up giving. I used to enjoy choosing just the right gift (there was the time a friend of mine and I gave each other a book we knew the other would love, that we'd already bought for ourselves...) and over the years it became harder, and money got tighter, and a few years ago I just went BoredNow with the whole gift thing. Including receiving.

    Mary Anne in Kentucky

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    1. I think that's a very sensible idea Mary Anne to just skip the whole year end consumerfest known as the holidays! We feel a bit pulled in by family tradition, but try to go easier and easier every year.

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  8. Dad gets his favorite home made treats. Mom gets whatever she wants. The kids get cash. Sweetie and i get to watch the fun. It works for us.

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    1. Sounds like you've figured out a great system Messymimi!

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  9. I love everything about Christmas - giving and receiving gifts included! However, we keep talking about taking a big trip instead. I think we might start doing that but I'm not sure if my 11 & 13 year old boys are quite ready for the change!!!

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    1. Wow, a vacation sounds awesome! But totally get how kids would still miss the whole present thing. At least I was quite the little materialist at that age!

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  10. I like to find that exact gift that I know they will love, I shop all year round, craft fairs, whatever to find a great gift. My mother when she was a little girl used to love her mother's perfume, heliotrope. WTF? I had to scrounge the earth to find this, it took over a year for me to finally find some and I gave it to her last year and she cried and she said it smelled exactly the way she remembered. PERFECT!

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    1. Starving bitch, you are awesome!!! I don't have the energy or confidence to do that kind of shopping, but so admire those who do.

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  11. The gift of experiences are my favorite type of gifts to receive. My husband is going to renew my passport for our next adventures together (his parents live in Europe so it's actually a necessity) and I think it's wonderful! <3

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    1. Travel! Just the WORD gets me excited, Kristen! Hope that renewed passport takes you all kinds of wonderful places, and how cool that your husband's folks live in Europe?!

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  12. thank you for the LOOOOOOOOOOOOOVE!!!!

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    1. Great product for great cause, what's not to love???

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  13. On the off-chance my significant other reads this post (or can read my mind), I'd like to mention some more things that are NOT good Christmas gifts:

    A set of kitchen knives
    A Roomba
    A DVD/DVR
    A garbage disposal

    (Yes, these are suggestions that have been vocalized, as in, "Norma, maybe that's what I'll get you for Christmas: a set of kitchen knives!" To which I respond with a "Huh?"...but it doesn't seem to be sinking in...)

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    1. Norma, you wouldn't be thrilled to see a garbage disposal all wrapped up with a big red ribbon? :)

      You may have to clobber him over the head with a few specific hints and hope for the best!

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    2. I got a really nice (read expensive as hell) set of knives from hubby last year. I actually liked getting it (other than the thought of him having paid way too much). Of course the fact that I had about two knives, total, that had issues cutting hot butter or melted Jello might have something to do with liking such a practical gift! :)

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  14. Thank you, Crabby, for opening the door to vent/opine and otherwise comment on gift giving (and receving)!

    I think one aspect of gift giving that is commonly over-looked is recipient responsibilities or "etiquette".

    We - the woeful gift givers - wander the landscape in search of something - ANYTHING - that will make the receiver's life a little nicer/brighter/fun-ner even if for just a moment. This often involves energy, angst, frustration and just wishful thinking. Especially if the recipient has offered nary a clue nor any helpful "hints". (Ever been in a store after hours of searching and just stood there semi-comatose praying and idea will materialize out of nowhere?????)

    All we givers ask is acknowledgement of this - not necessarily even the gift itself.

    So - no matter how you truly, really feel about the actual gift - consider faking it! Smile, laugh, nod and show some appreciation. Even if you need to exchange or return, do NOT admit this unless 1- it is immediately and glaringly obviously the wrong size AND 2 - the giver asks if they can do this FOR you or 3 - you are tortured into divulging.

    So - yes... "fib". Actually, you are not even really fibbing - just saying you appreciate the effort and not sullying or tainting it with any other response. It is the recipient now who is the giver of the gift!

    My opinion is that the recipient's responsibility ends there. No need to display, wear or actually USE said gift/s. (Use your creative talents to forumlate reasons, excuses, a really good story....! "I took it to work." "I'm saving it for a special occasion!" "I wore/ate/shared/read it just the other day!"....) So - no real skin off your back and you will have managed to make someone feel really great about themselves. And since so many say "...'tis better to give than recieve" - and, is there really any better gift than that? :)

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    1. Yes anonymous, excellent point, and I agree completely!!

      As hard-to-buy-for person, I have given some performances worthy of Oscar nominations. But it just makes me feel so badly to know that the giver went to so much thought and trouble and that I can't get my own crotchety brain to think creatively enough to make it love the gift as much as much as it deserves. Stealth returns, regifting, donating... all strategies I've used, but ALWAYS with a cover story prepared. And sometimes, in the case of frequent visitors, I've just had to suck it up and learn to live with something I would So Not Have Chosen Myself.

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  15. That knit thing, in that colour, looks like a stomach with an extra duct for the hands. I used to try very hard to find just the right gift, now I just ask for a list and get what I can afford from the list. Or, I make something and hope they will like it.

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    1. And who doesn't need a knitted stomach to curl up in Reb? :) And good for you for being creative enough to make gifts!

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  16. I'm glad my family has started forgoing gifts, unless we happen to see something we know the other person would love, or make something for them (except the kids...we still buy for them) My mum had a knack for "what the hell were you thinking?" gifts so years ago we decided to cut back. I'm happy to blanket the house in lights, I don't feel like I need more. I won't refuse it, but it's just not that important anymore. :)
    Although now that I've seen that cat mat...I need it...:)

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    1. Sounds like you've figured out a great way to get festive without the commercialism or the WTH gifts! And I think that cat thing is supposed to be a cat scratching post, though I'm a bit skeptical that cats would use it that way, but who knows!

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  17. I got your eBook just now. So when are you coming to my house to autograph it? I like your medicine ball. I didn't know they came in pretty colors!!! I would ask for that for Christmas if I had someone to play catch with. Last Christmas I had lots of exercise types of things on my list and got them all! Free weights, exercise ball, stretchy bands, Mio heart rate monitor wrist thingy, and sexy yoga pants with purple cammo stripes.

    Thanks to your links I now know what to do with all the corks I have laying around the house. Of course they are not ALL mine! I would never drink that much wine in a lifetime! She also had a necklace of buttons. Did you know I dabble in the sewing arts? Now I know what to do with all those buttons I have all over the house!!! Just think, if I EVER really NEED a button, I can check my necklace for the one I need!

    Oh and thanks to you I now have Green Lite Bites recipes coming to my inbox. I was too late for the drawing for the book. That is what I get for not reading your blog the day it comes out!

    Christmas gifts.... The favorite one I got I think would be the one from my Dad. Each year. He'd get an ornament that was a bell of some sort for each of us three girls. It it was a good year at his business we'd sometimes get $50 tucked inside the bell. Other times we would get $20. The money was very welcome when we were out on our own in those yearly years. I still have each and every bell he gave me. When he passed away, he had already gotten the bells for that year's Christmas. The last bell ornament I got from him was just a few weeks after his passing. (nostalgia break here)

    My favorite to give is the box of chocolate covered cherries I give to each of my kids. It is a holiday family tradition. Even though they are grown up and scattered across the country, I spend far more than the candy is worth, to send each kid a box of those candies! Maybe with the price of shipping getting higher I should send empty boxes with money inside. They would probably enjoy that more, especially since my daughter is Vegan. Hmmmm, I wonder what I would do with all those chocolate covered cherries though?

    Now I know you are not all about serious stuff but I gotta say...I MISS the days when you had a couple bucks in your pocket and went downtown to main street and did all your Christmas shopping at once. Of course it was night and there were snowflakes falling, showing up in the light of the street lamps. It was right out of a Norman Rockwell painting. A scarf for Mom, a box of .22 shells for Dad's rifle, a Barbie doll outfit for younger sister, Play Dough for baby sister and you were all done! (another nostalgia break here)

    Where was I? Oh ya! I think I have written too much and must go pop another cork...or do the dishes.

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    1. THANK YOU so much Sherri for buying the book! And love the holiday memories, thank you for sharing them! And there is never such thing as writing too much here, I love your comments!

      And yeah, the medicine balls are more fun if you've got someone to toss it to, but I don't either, so play with it by myself and look like a freak--something I've gotten used to by now.

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  18. We have all but given up on gifts in the normal sense in my family. It became so hard to find something that would actually be used and wanted, that we now just go shopping with each other and pick things out that we want.

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    1. Seems to be a lot of us in the same boat Jessica! Not sure why it's so much harder to figure out what others want that they haven't already bought themselves, but I find it really hard without specific hints!

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  19. I was reading along and laughing out loud which always makes someone in the house say WHATS SO FUNNY? and then I said OH My God! Which made them run to peek over my shoulder! Totally surprised that you gave my shop on etsy a plug. Thanks so much! btw I did buy your ebook. I have these glimpses of my not being as fit as I think I am and really need encouragement! I have been working in some daily yoga to go along with the dog walks and gardening. As for gift giving, our family and our extended group of odd balls, have decided to do a white elephant gift exchange. We are looking for the most terrible unique awesome stuff ( my daughter is gifting an art print of Prince riding a unicorn). We hope everyone ends up with something they truly love. I bought a flock of chickens in my husbands name one year. You should have seen the look on his face when he thought they were going to be living with us!

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    1. Oh good, glad you saw that, love your clever crafty eco-friendly stuff!

      And omg, the Prince on Unicorn is a perfect white elephant. Perhaps you can snap some photos that I could swipe for next year's awful or great holiday gifts post.

      And good luck on the yoga and walking! Put some Scissor Sisters on, that'll keep you plowing along at a good pace. :)

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