Flashback Friday: Family Gift Guide

by Abby on December 23, 2011

Christmas presentsIt’s an unfortunate fact of life that I am a lousy gift-giver. Occasionally, I come up with an amazingly perfect, personal, creative gift, such as the year I got my mom a customized antique locket from Etsy containing pictures of her grandchildren. Alas, I cannot sustain that level of gift-giving year after year.

Especially with the men in my life. Do you know how hard it is to buy for my husband? He’s so picky about his apparel I couldn’t DREAM of buying him something he’d actually wear. The Nike Watch of ’07 is still a sore subject. Even when he sends me a link to the exact thing he wants, it still somehow goes awry. (It said “unisex,” I swear!!)

[Sidebar: have you noticed the disturbing trend towards “practical” gifts once you’re married? “Honey, let’s get a new garbage disposal and call it our Christmas present to each other this year, OK?” NOT OK!!]

For your convenience, I’ve compiled a list of thoughtful — and free! — gifts that you and your loved ones will TRULY cherish:


Privacy. If a working lock for the bathroom door is not feasible, give her the gift of letting her do her business solo without talking to her through the door. Imagine, an entire shower without someone coming in to ask where the red sippy cup is or flushing the toilet and scalding her.


Space. Let him watch the whole game by himself without talking to him about the suspicious-looking crack in the ceiling or the state of your 401k. Allow him to drink his coffee before asking him if he remembered to put out the recycling and what you should get his mom for her birthday. Don’t hand him a crying baby and a whiny toddler before he’s even fully in the door from work. At least let him turn off the engine first.


Satisfaction. As in, give them the satisfaction of thinking you are taking their advice – or at least considering it. When they say, “We used to put you kids in playpens” or “Give the baby a bottle of water when he cries at night” or “Don’t give in to those temper tantrums; show her who’s boss,” just smile and nod. Bonus points for throwing in a “Why didn’t *I* think of that?”


Access. Every parent knows the more dangerous the object, the more a baby wants it and the longer and more happily he will play with it. So let him have your germy keys, those sharp kitchen implements, and the dog’s filthy chew-toy. He’ll be in heaven, and you’ll be on standby with the Purell, ready to call 911 if necessary.


Independence. Imagine an entire day where your child gets to make all his own decisions. The striped shirt with the plaid shorts and Elmo rain boots? Why not! Waffles and M&Ms for breakfast? Sure! A 4-hour Dora marathon? Go nuts! What’s the worst that could happen? Cavities? Public ridicule? A nuclear meltdown? You’ll live. Of course, MY son has been known to ask to drive the car, play in traffic, and drink Red Bull, so you’ll have to draw the line somewhere.

I see these gifts as a win-win for everyone. They cost you nothing (except possibly your pride) and you don’t even have to wrap them. Any way you look at it, they’re way more festive than a new muffler for the minivan. Here’s wishing you & yours a happy, stress-free holiday!

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lou Mello December 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

Seriously, I thought the new vacuum cleaner was a fabulous Christmas gift…
We do get each other some practical stuff and then try to surprise one another with something nice. Remember, it’s the thought that counts…NOT!

Love the freebie gifts, glad my daughter is grown and has dogs and cats as her little munchkins.
Have a very Merry Christmas!!


Abby December 23, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Thanks, Lou! A very Merry Christmas to you, too!


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