This morning I read a thought-provoking Facebook post from Aussie author, Kylie Griffin. Essentially she urged us not to fill stockings with bits and pieces made and imported cheaply, that our friends and loved ones probably don’t need anyway. American economist, Joel Waldfogel, even wrote a book about this, called Scroogenomics: Why You Shouldn’t Buy Presents for the Holidays . He says that billions of dollars in value are lost every year when we give gifts that are worth less to the recipient than they cost us to buy. You only have to look at eBay after the holidays to see where all these “unwanted gifts” end up. Sadly, most change hands for a fraction of what they cost the giver.
Most of us choose a gift hoping that we’re giving the recipient something they’ll love. Yet obviously we fail more often than we succeed. We could always give money, but that can be seen as a cop-out, that we didn’t care enough about the person to put time and effort into choosing a gift for them.
Given that we’re not mind-readers, what’s the solution? Kylie suggested giving the gift of genuine concern for other Australians. “It’s time to think outside the box, people. Who says a gift needs to fit in a shirt box, wrapped in Asian-produced wrapping paper?”
Among her ideas are gift certificates from the local barber or hair salon. A gym membership for those into health improvement. A car wash voucher or certificate to get your lawn mowed. Local eateries are struggling everywhere, and giving meal or coffee vouchers helps both the business and the recipient. “Mum would LOVE the services of a local cleaning lady for a day,” Kylie suggests. Hey, Mum’s not the only one LOL. Buy from computer services, paving suppliers, car tune-up shops, in short anyone who provides a local service that your friends and loved ones use often. If they don’t have gift vouchers, you can pay for the service up-front, and generate your own certificate, getting the business to sign and date your handiwork. Whether it’s fingernails or hobnails, the money and the work stays in your community.
Then there are books. I and my fellow writers have a vested interested in seeing Aussies give each other books whether downloadable onto a reader, or in still-appreciated print form. If you buy gift vouchers, get them at local booksellers while they’re still around. We might keep them afloat longer this way.
And charity gifts don’t have to fund work across the globe, worthy as that is. Did you know that $20 can help give an indigenous Aussie family individual title to a chunk of community-held land, helping them to obtain a loan to buy or build a home? I didn’t either, but it’s on my gift-shopping list now. Find these and similar gifts at http://www.worldvision.com.au/gifts
What are your gift-giving plans this year? Share your good ideas by commenting below.
On Twitter @valerieparv