Happy Christmasween

Have you heard? The economy is in the toilet.

Retailers say the economy is so bad, they had to get a jump start on the holiday season by having sales that encourage people to shop long before the start of the holiday season.

That would explain the lit Christmas trees next to the Halloween ghouls and goblins at Home Depot. During a recent trip to Target, I was frightened not so much by the scary Halloween displays as I was by the fact that a lifesize Santa and winterwonderland sat inches away from the costumes.

It was Sept. for crying out loud!

When I was a child, Christmas could not come fast enough. Now it feels like I’m taking down the lights and the tree from the year before just in time to put them up again.

But seriously, since spending may be a bit tough these days, this might be a good year to fulfill that promise to yourself to spend within your means and to buy only meaningful gifts.

Here are a few ideas to get you started toward the fulfillment of that promise.

1 – Pay attention. If you listen to those you love, they have been dropping hints all year as to what they want. Sure, sometimes that wish is for a brand new sports car, but most of the time it’s for something practical and affordable … like a new jump drive for their computer. They will love you, not just because you got them something they really wanted, but because you cared enough to paid attention. Pay attention. It’s something I learned from someone very near and dear to me and it’s a habit that has served me well.

3 – Gift certificates make great gifts. Here again you have to give thought to the person to whom you’re giving it. If they’ve been hinting they want something from a particular store, but you don’t know which model, size or color they want, give them a gift certificate from the store with a note that says … “Hey, I know you want this, but I’m not sure which one to get. Here’s a little something for you to buy it for yourself.” A personalized note goes a long way toward removing the generic nature a gift certificates.

3- Time coupons are gift certificates you create to give even more specific gifts. “This coupon entitles you to …. whatever you’d like to give. A night of babysitting, petsitting, a night out with the girls, a week of no nagging … you get the idea.

4- Give the gift of music. An Ipod Nano and iTunes gift card are perfect for just about anyone. The Nano is a tiny little gift that I recently received and it never too far away from me. I guarantee they will think of you everytime they use it, which will be quite often.

5 – Give the gift of less clutter. Somethimes the best gift is no gift at all. Agree to give nothing but yourself and your time, perhaps the greatest gifts we can give. Want to make it even more fun? Buy yourself something you really want, encourage your friends and family members to do the same. Then on Christmas morning get together for breakfast and show everyone what you bought for yourself.

While there are people in our lives to which we love to give traditional gifts, the idea is don’t spend money you don’t have, to buy something someone doesn’t need, just to impress people who don’t know you that well.

I hope these ideas help you find the perfect gift for everyone on your list.

I have to color some Easter eggs. April will be here before you know it.

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