Make a Difference with Your Holiday Gifts

As a young child, I would definitely look forward to the Christmas season. There was something magical about hearing the joyful carols on the radio, feeling the brisk chill of the breeze, seeing the houses adorned with sparkling lights, tasting the tangy flavour of sorrel, and smelling the enticing aroma of fruitcakes baking in the oven.

Like most children, I really anticipated the gifts that Santa should bring once I had been good all year round. It was hard to sit through Christmas morning church service wondering what was enclosed in those brightly wrapped parcels at the foot of my bed and under the Christmas tree.

As adults, while we may have lost the childlike awe of this season, many of us still yearn for the happiness of the holidays when we can enjoy family, food and fellowship. Although we may not admit it, some of us also secretly long for the presents and surprises that the holidays may bring.

Gift selection can be stressful

Successful gift giving can be a complex process; if you would like the recipient to appreciate your efforts, you need to think carefully about the person’s tastes and interests. It can be even more difficult to choose gifts in December when expectations are high, but your pocket may be low.

Some people opt to avoid the seasonal stress by declaring that they will not be buying presents or expecting any gifts. This strategy may not be realistic if you have kids with eager, excited eyes, or if there are friends and colleagues to whom you want to show your appreciation in tangible ways.

If your funds are limited or your time is stretched, don’t commit the cardinal crime of buying a token gift, just to say that you gave something. It can be very deflating for the recipient to unwrap a present which you obviously put little thought into buying, and your good intentions may backfire.

If you have loved ones who equate the extent of your emotion with the price tag of your present, then your gift search can be even more nerve-racking. However, don’t fall into the trap of getting into debt or depleting your life savings just to show people that you really care for them.

Gifts that bring money appreciation

Is it possible to find a happy medium where you can satisfy people’s expectations without wrecking your budget or your peace of mind? One way to be successful in your gift-giving quest is to find or create souvenirs that can actually make a meaningful difference in the lives of your recipients.

Let’s say that you have a teenage relative who has asked for a new video game for Christmas. Perhaps the cost of the item is prohibitive, or perhaps you think that the child spends too much time engrossed in games. How can you give a gift that demonstrates your thoughtfulness?

One of the best things that you can bestow on a child is the gift of an education about money. You could look online for games or apps that can help young people to understand the principles of money in a fun way. One option is the CASHFLOW investing game found at

Adults often give children money to add to their accounts, but in most children’s eyes, a savings certificate is a really boring gift. How about making it more exciting by designing a cool graph to show how your little gift could grow into a million-dollar bounty with consistent savings over time?

Gifts that bring money success

Gift cards can remove the hassle of choosing the right present, as most people will appreciate a certificate from their favourite store, restaurant or movie theatre. However, the redemption of these gift cards does not usually bring anything that makes a lasting difference in the recipients’ lives.

I believe that adults can also benefit from receiving gifts that will help them to become financially successful. Books about money don’t have to be uninteresting; there are many titles that share entertaining and easy-to-read financial tips. I recommend Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover.

For those people on your list who don’t like to read, you can look for DVDs or CDs that will inspire them financially. An audio book of T. Harv Eker’s Secrets of the Millionaire Mind or Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad can bring positive changes to anyone’s outlook about money.

If you know people who are trying to make money in a part-time venture or who are working in their own business, this season can be a good time to show your support. How about giving a pledge to buy their products or services every month, or buying gift cards from their offerings?

If your gift-giving can help friends and family to progress along the road to wealth creation, then you will have provided them with gifts that continue to give, even after the holidays are over!

Copyright © 2015 Cherryl Hanson Simpson. No reproduction without written consent.
Originally published in The Daily Observer, December 17, 2015.

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Cherryl is a money coach and business mentor, and founder of Financially S.M.A.R.T. Services. See more of her work at and Contact Cherryl