Gift Buying for Others
The best time to start buying gifts for the December holidays is NOT after Thanksgiving. For those of you who love to travel as I do, the best time to buy gifts for the December holidays is while you are on a cruise vacation. Friends and family who do not have travel opportunities always seem to appreciate gifts I bring them from afar. If you have been to a port of call before or are "burned-out" from shore excursions, use the time ashore to seek out local handicrafts or bargains for your loved ones.
Items such as jewelry, pottery, prints, linens and carvings make great gifts. Labor costs overseas are often much less than in the United States or Canada. If something requires lots of time to make, but little in the way of raw materials, it might be a bargain. I always think about the molas made by the Kuna Indians in Panama. The women use intricate needlework to make these amazing pictures of cloth. The time involved is significant, but the materials cost is very low. The quality of their work is superior, and the items hold up very well.
To make a gift more special, enclose a story about the item inside the gift package to go along with it. For example, we visited a pottery shop in Venezuela several years ago and bought some beautiful pieces relatively inexpensively. My family and friends enjoyed the personal story of the pottery-maker and her family as much as the items we purchased. It makes the purchase much more special than if it was bought at Macy's!
A few years ago I bought some beautiful lapel or dress pins in Barcelona for a few of my girl friends. I found them at an artisan's shop, and they were very inexpensive. Even better yet, they were small and easy to get home in my carry-on luggage. Jewelry is a great gift, but often is expensive because of the materials cost or availability. I'm sure my friends understood when I didn't bring them any black pearls from Tahiti!
Teenagers and kids love T-shirts from around the world (as do I). They can show them off to their friends or wear them to the mall and have others think that THEY have been to exotic places. T-shirts make great gifts because (1) the size is usually easy to guess [go bigger if in doubt], (2) they are relatively inexpensive, and (3) they can be found anywhere and everywhere.
The moral of this story is--next time you go on a trip, go ahead and buy holiday gifts for your family and friends. Just don't forget where you stored them when holiday time comes around! Your family and friends will love that you thought of them while on vacation. The only downside is that the items can't be returned in January. (Or is that an upside? )
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