What to stick under the Christmas tree

By Jessie Tobias
Staff Writer
Posted 12/8/11

The Christmas shopping season is upon us, and I’m sure many people are stuck in the same quandary I am: what gifts to buy for people.

There are always some who aren’t shy about telling people what they want every year. My young cousin, Liz, is especially enthusiastic. She is 6 years old, and her list is six pages long. On it are three beagle puppies, and she has already picked out names: Wanda, Cosmo, and Poof.

Thankfully Liz has provided enough alternative gift choices for her parents and Santa, because I don’t know how well jolly old St. Nick’s sleigh would hold up against the machinations of three beagle puppies. And just think of the poor old man’s eardrums on his 24-hour flight around the world. He’d probably make a point of stopping in Newport, where Liz lives, first.

While my cousin probably won’t wake up to the belling of hounds Christmas morning, Santa will come through in the end with gifts she’ll love. (He always does. He’s Santa.) However, Santa has a whole nation of elves living in the North Pole helping him pick out gifts. I have to rely on what people tell me, and it’s not easy.

My family started drawing names for our big family Christmas celebration a few years ago in an attempt to save everyone a little money over the holiday season. Everyone buys gifts for the kids, but the adults draw names and buy a single gift. We have a $50 target price to even everything out, and so far the system has worked great (although there is always a bit of swapping on the down low when we draw names.)

The hardship comes in when you draw the name of someone who doesn’t know what they want; or, someone who doesn’t want anything.

So, what to do? I’ve heard people say that gift certificates are impersonal, and I tend to agree... when people give me alternate ideas. Often they’re actually asking for gift cards, and I can understand why. It lets you pick something you’re actually going to use, instead of getting something that, while well-intentioned, is going to sit on a shelf for a year before you bite the bullet and put it in the Goodwill box.

I still don’t like buying gift cards, though. It makes me feel like I don’t know someone well enough to find a gift they’ll really love. But when faced with someone who isn’t forthcoming about Christmas gift ideas, and with Christmas morning fast approaching, I think I’m going to have to crack.

I’m still going to try and put a personal spin on the gift. Instead of just buying a Wal-Mart gift card, I’m thinking $50 to a restaurant. I know how nice it can be to go out for dinner once in a while. And giving someone the means to do so without splurging on a nice evening out seems like a nice Christmas gift to me.

I hope the recipient feels the same!

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Keep buying those Wal-Mart gift cards and you won't have any restaurants at all except those of course next to Wal-Mart. Why not keep your money "local" instead of going to somewhere in Arkansas? I don't think the Walton family or it's shareholders will miss it that much.

Thursday, December 8, 2011 | Report this

I know what I want for Christmas: a good job where I can get hired based upon my skills and education and NOT based upon nepotism or cronyism (as seems to be case in most Northern Michigan counties, Oscoda included).

Thursday, December 8, 2011 | Report this

Arkansas?

Sunday, December 11, 2011 | Report this

Troll.. No where does the author say she's "just" going to buy a wal-mart gift card. Seems like you'd be better off writing to Wal-Mart to express your displesure with their way of doing business.

Way to completely undermind the spirit, subject, and purpose of the column....

Monday, December 12, 2011 | Report this

Nice article, I enjoyed it.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 | Report this

I enjoyed it also!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 | Report this

Quote: Instead of just buying a Wal-Mart gift card, I’m thinking $50 to a restaurant.

The last I knew, Bentonville, Arkansas is the world headquarters for "your" Wal-Mart.

Yes, it is a nice article & when you don't know what to get someone as a gift, no thought process is required when you just rely on a gift card. I was taught that it is the thought that counts?

I know, a McDonald's gift card that way you are supporting a "local" restaurant.

Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Report this

Your entire statement makes me think that you stopped reading the article half-way through, or just skipped entire sentences.

Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Report this

Hey, dman, once you read the word "Wal-Mart gift card", did that big vein in you forehead swell up and block circulation to the rest of your brain, preventing you from comprehending the next six words? She's NOT going to BUY a WALLY WORLD card, dude, MOVE ON.

Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Report this

Meanwhile, buy your crap on the hill instead in town.

Saturday, December 17, 2011 | Report this

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