Monday, November 30, 2009

Gifts and Giving

Now that Black Friday and Cyber Sunday are behind us, it's time to reflect on gift giving. There are been several great articles which provide guiding principles.

George F. Will wrote an excellent column about how not to give gifts. When recipients say "You shouldn't have", they're right!

Joel Waldfogel, the author of ”Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays,” provides a detailed economic analysis of the economic consequences of random gift giving, concluding the best bet is to focus on children and give adults gift cards or named charitable contributions in their honor.

Here's the approach I've used with my close family members.

My daughter has not asked for any specific gifts (she's not a shopper or someone who seeks the season's "must have" items). She has asked that any gifts focus on her three loves - the outdoors, Japan, and archery. We hike, bike, and cross country ski together. This year, I'm helping her choose a few Arcteryx pieces - base layers and shell layers to keep her safe during all the outdoor activities she does with and without me. She's been an archer for several years and this is the year she'll get her own bow - her preference is for something simple in wood, not high-tech carbon or fiberglass.

My wife is starting a gallery in Boston's South End and is reorganizing her studio. My gift to her is all the time, heavy lifting, and construction work she needs to be successful. In addition to being a CIO, I do plumbing, electrical, carpentry, and painting.

My parents are transitioning from cell phones to PDAs, so I'll help them choose and integrate those devices into their lives. I'll also upgrade their computers to Snow Leopard.

The common theme among all these gifts, is the Gift of Time. More than things, I'm giving my experience, my effort, and my expertise in things outdoors, home improvement, and technological.

Hopefully, my family will not conclude that "I shouldn't have"!

1 comment:

Gayle said...

I agree with focusing on kids. Last year, out of necessity, I spent the Christmas budget all on them. I don't want them to worry about money at 4 years old and I want them to believe in Santa because that belief will inspire them to do the same for their children one day whether or not they become Catholic as we are. The spirit is what we are all after - it often makes us better people. So, again this year, not out of necesity, I focused on them. Seeing their reaction on Christmas morning is gift enough for me! They are my gift and I have a lifetime to share with them. It's good to know others are in a similar place about the holidays. Cheers!