The Last Minute Gift Guide That Will Save You $1,100 + Get People What They Actually Want

Written by Scott December 17, 2010

Written by Scott Dinsmore – Follow me on Twitter.

Give Meaningful Gifts not Things

Quick note: The world desperately needs a new approach to giving. Especially now. In the spirit of the holidays, share this post any way possible. Let’s get it in front of 10,000 people!

Average read time: 4.3 min

Presents and trinkets are a bit overrated.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good gift as much as the next holiday goer, but lately I’ve realized there are very few gifts that I actually use. The rest sit around. Either on a shelf or in a closet–right along side the other gifts. Before long they need their own drawer  and then their own closet.

After a few years they require a new room and can even influence getting a bigger home. Think about this. I know it’s happened to you. Bit by bit stuff starts to control us. I’ve seen it dozens of times with friends and family.

I’m determined to not let it happen to us. We need to change how we view gift giving.

Sorry about the rant but now of all times we need to consider what giving a gift means. Some guerrilla online research told me that the average person spends between $780 and $1,215 on holiday gifts each year. Even with a nasty economy, I’m sure the numbers will be just as high this year.

So why add more pressure by buying more? Things aren’t what anyone wants anyway.

The most important gifts are experiences.

Think back on your best memories. I mean the ones that really change your state. The laughing uncontrollably, the smiles. How many of them were due to physical objects? I’d venture none.

The only reason people buy things is to achieve an emotional state–mostly happiness and fulfillment. While those can be difficult to directly give, there are plenty of ways to facilitate them. We forget that most emotions and experiences can be achieved without things. We think we need those to get there, but we don’t. When will we realize that the trinkets aren’t what make us happy?

So I propose no ‘gifts’ this year–at least in the traditional sense.

Holidays are about sharing love and gratitude and just taking in how freaking amazing life is. We don’t need a bunch of things to do that. But since we are dead set on the culture of giving no matter what, we feel it’s better to give worthless crap than to give nothing at all. Before we know it, we’ve spent a thousand bucks.

We’re missing the point. It’s not about the gift. It’s about the message. It’s about the meaning.

Let’s focus on the things that are free that create no clutter and leave you with an “I f***ing love my life!” experience in your brain. The below require no waiting in lines, no elbowing last minute shoppers and very little if any money. The only requirement is thought, time and perhaps a tad of creativity.

It’s the simple things that make life rich. This year let’s give knowledge, skills and inspiration.

20 Free gift ideas that will make lives better and save at least $1,100:

  1. Cook dinner. Who cares if you can’t cook. Pick an easy recipe. Search “easy healthy quick recipe” on google. No excuses.
  2. Write a note. Taylor it to them and your relationship. Deliver it in person. Be there as they read it. Maybe read it to them. Heck, try singing it.
  3. Share a powerful article or book you know they’d love.
  4. Focus on the message and presentation, not the gift – don’t just forward a blog article in a one line email. Print it out or write a thoughtful note along with it. It’s all about the presentation.
  5. Build something – a collage of pictures, a calendar through iPhoto. Keep it simple.
  6. Hire someone on Fiverr.com to create a custom song or poem. Only costs $5 and it’s a blast. Fiverr has an awesome Christmas section.
  7. Regift something of value – your trash is someone else’s treasure. Start with your book shelf and then hit your closet.
  8. Give a massage – Stick to hands and feet if you want to get personal. Everyone one loves someone messing with their toes.
  9. Create a YouTube playlist of your most inspirational songs and videos. It’s super easy.
  10. Throw a party with all your favorite people – so everyone can enjoy each other.
  11. Make a connection – Introduce two people who could really help each other.
  12. Create a workout or eating routine to help them achieve a goal.
  13. Give a fantasy. I’ll let you run with that one. C’mon, we’re all human.
  14. Be their guide on your favorite workout or outdoor adventure.
  15. Share your expertise in a way that will make life better. If you’re an accountant, help with a budget. If you’re a career coach, help find  a job they actually like. We’re all experts in something. Teach them.
  16. Find an inspiring video and share it in a way they’re most likely to watch. Burn to DVD or sit down and watch it with them if that’s what it takes.
  17. Give a bottle of wine – that must be drank between you and them within 2 weeks of gifting. Block off an entire evening for the good conversation.
  18. Babysit some rugrats – the ultimate gift for young parents.
  19. Save someone some time – Is there anything more valuable? Take down their holiday decorations, declutter their stuff, clean their house.
  20. Share something you love – a sunset, sunrise, a walk, a new museum. Get creative.

To keep it easy, give the same gift to multiple people, just customize each one a bit. For a little more contrarian gift giving, check out these posts on ZenHabits and FarBeyondTheStars.

And if you must buy a gift (you really don’t have to though), I suggest the gift of information. Help people learn, grow and improve their lives. My go-to is a book. If you can get it in digital form (audio, kindle, iPad, PDF), all the better. Seriously though, stick to experiences this year.

Inexpensive Knowledge Gifts:

For someone who wants…

Remember, we don’t need anything.

Aside from basic human needs–food, water, shelter, we don’t need anything else. Yet I find myself and others saying crazy things like ‘I need a new car’, ‘I need a new jacket’ or ‘I need a new 57 in. TV.” It’s wild. Need is entirely overused. These are all wants. It’s fine to want things but let’s not convince ourselves we need them.

Using the word ‘need’ has a powerful psychological effect on us. If we convince ourselves that we need something, then it gives us a green light to go out and consume. After all, if we really need it, then we can’t live without it. I think not.

From now on, try using the word ‘want’ anytime you can live without the object. I bet you’ll consume a lot less and be just as smiley, if not more.

This season (and every season) is one for appreciating the things that make life magnificent. People, friends, adventures, experiences, smiles. We can’t buy any of these things but we can certainly give them. Save a thousand bucks and give the most meaningful gifts of all.

Now stop stessing about hitting the mall this weekend.

Happy holidays!

And a final free gift: Share This!

Whether Facebook, twitter or email is your thing, spread the love. Last minute shoppers and the world needs it! Seriously. It takes 2 seconds. I plan on this getting in front of at least 10,000 people in the next few days. Help make that happen. Click the Facebook and Twitter links below.

Image Courtesy of: zenera
blog comments powered by Disqus

Congrats, You made it to the bottom! Let’s Connect on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram

“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” - Jim Rohn