Out of personal preference to not get TOO consumer-obsessed with it, I wait until Dec. 1st to indulge in anything Xmas-related, at least "officially". I mean, I'll casually think about it, but it's not ON until the 1st. SO IT'S TOTALLY ON RIGHT NOW, YO.
I don't know why I love Xmas so much, but I do. It's by far my favorite holiday, other than my birthday. (YES, a birthday counts as a holiday, dammit!) I think it's the spirit of GIVING - I don't even think about what I want for Xmas (anymore, at least - as a kid, naturally, I had a mile-long list of goodies), I just love coming up with gift ideas. My goal with each gift is that it's something they can enjoy as well as actually use - but I'll err on the side of enjoy more than use most of the time. I tend to mentally file friends or family with 2-3 things that I know they really enjoy (a trait I picked up from my mom) - for example, my friend D is an old-school gamer, and equally music/bacon-obsessed. (Seriously, he had tray passes of bacon slices at his wedding as part of the appetizers - which is why we're friends. ;D)
Unfortunately, due to the unemployment issue, I can't afford the types of gifts I'd REALLY like to buy my friends sometimes. If I had no financial limit, I could probably easily spend $50-$100 per person (if not more!). LUCKILY for The Hub's sanity, there IS a financial limit so I have to be reigned in. Oddly enough, I like that challenge, though! What can I find for my loved ones that is unique, interesting/fun, and reasonably priced? I do a lot of brain-storming and internet-searching (GOD BLESS the internet for this reason), and then I make a list in Word of who I need to buy for, what I want to spend in parentheses, and what I plan to buy for those people - and I strike the items out as I buy them, esp. if it's a gift that's made up of multiple parts... which it often is.
It depends on my mood that year, but usually I'm fine buying one quality gift versus a quantity of gifts, but if I can't find the quality, then I'll spend the equivalent amount in quantity and getting those little fun things instead. It depends on the person, also - some people just want one good thing, others just like getting stuff. (And honestly, who doesn't like getting stuff? Well, 'cept for my friend J.)
Anyway, to make this post a little less Christmas-themed navel-gazing, here's some (IMHO) great theme gifts I've done in the past that you are free to crib for your own gift-giving needs:
- Movie Night Out/In: Buy a g.c. for either the equivalent of a full-price movie ticket(s) or a month's subscription to Netflix/Blockbuster (whichever you prefer), and buy a cheap basket, movie-size candy boxes, and microwave popcorn (if it's "night in" themed) - and maybe a mini-bottle of wine if the recipients are into that.
- Keeping Cozy Kit: Buy a cute mug, fill it with individual servings of tea/coffee/hot cocoa (the giftee's preferred poison) (and some candy if so inclined, 'cuz who doesn't like candy?), a bookmark (I usually make mine), and a g.c. to a bookstore! I've also added slipper socks or homemade things like crocheted fingerless gloves or reheatable pocket-warmers for my loved ones who live in colder states than I do.
- "Proper English Tea" variation: Fill the mug with individual "English Breakfast" tea servings, and mini-sizes of "tea time" foods from Cost Plus - and the other stuff mentioned above.
- Girly Fun Time: Buy all those little cute girly things in those bins at Target and/or Wal-Mart (whichever store you prefer) that only cost, like $1-3 a pop. Lip gloss, nail polish, eye shadow, glitter gel pens in their favorite colors, etc. Throw in some samples of beauty products for hair or face (My local beauty supply store gives literally 5 samples for every 1 product you buy, it's AWESOME - I have a HUGE stash of the things, hahaha). Pony up for one nice item that you know your friend will love, like decent jewelry, a digital photo keychain, or a nice scarf, and a nice bath product, like a bath bomb from Lush or shower gel from Bath & Body Works. If your girlfriends drink, a cute mini-bottle of pre-made cocktails (like Cocktails by Jenn) is a nice little finishing touch! (This is basically how I did my bridesmaids gifts, btw - which were a BIG hit with my girls!)
Next gift-related post will be easy stuff you can make (and links to them), but the next Xmas post will be my Xmas decorations, including my tree! WHEEEEE, I LOVE CHRISTMAS!