Giving gifts should take thought, not just dollars

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Last week, I learned a valuable lesson from someone I was interviewing for a story about holiday shopping. I spoke with Sandy Earley, of Graniteville, while she was shopping at Belk.

She told me that she was reducing her holiday spending this year and instead focusing her attention on giving gifts that were meaningful.

She purchased miniature candy cane ornaments with her family members' names on them. The ornaments were accompanied by a small bag that shared the Legend of the Christmas Candy Cane. It's a thoughtful and simple gift -- something that her family will probably remember in years to come.

Some of the most expensive presents might be forgotten soon after Christmas. We're not always shopping with our loved ones' interests in mind.

The holidays have become extremely commercialized, and many of us are simply chasing the next hot gadget or trend.

It might take more time to find more personal gifts, but they'll mean much more to the recipient. And you'll probably save money in the process. There's some truth to the adage, "It's the thought that counts."

With Christmas only five days away, instead of rushing out to buy last-minute gifts, take a moment to think more about the recipient.

Here are my ideas for some inexpensive gifts:

- Mix CD of the recipient's favorite songs

- Certificate from you offering to do housework, cook dinner, take out the garbage or baby-sit the kids for an evening

- Recipient's favorite cake or pie

- Items that relate to a hobby

- Framed photo from a memorable moment in his or her life

- Handmade gift. Depending on your talents, you could knit or crochet a scarf, paint a picture, make a ceramic mug or write a poem.

- Draw names with family and friends so you can buy one gift instead of several.

RECAP

Here are some highlights from The Pinch blog last week:

FAMILY FOOD DEAL: Luciana's Taste of Italy has a Family Four Pack deal that feeds a family of four for $19.95. Customers can get a large, one-topping pizza, large salad and four beverages with one refill.

The restaurant also offers Wednesday date night discounts. Patrons will receive a bottle of wine, an appetizer and two entrees for $34.99. Luciana's Taste of Italy is at 362 Furys Ferry Road.

DISCOUNTS ON FRAGRANCES: Perfumesmart has designer colognes and perfumes at affordable prices. The store carries familiar brands, including Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Elizabeth Arden and Christian Dior. The store is at 1326 Augusta West Parkway.

RECYCLE OLD ORNAMENTS: This year, rather than spending extra money on holiday decorations, recycle your old ornaments.

I watched Oprah Winfrey's Christmas special featuring President and Mrs. Obama, who said one of the trees in the White House was decorated with ornaments from previous administrations that had been transformed by citizens from across the country.

They had mailed Christmas balls to community groups across the nation to be decorated, and the ornaments returned as good as new as Georgia peaches or ornaments paying tribute to American Indian tribes.

EARN FREE WIRELESS: Kroger has a new loyalty program that rewards frequent shoppers with free wireless service using the company's wireless phone service, i-wireless. The Free Minutes rewards program enables customers to earn free air time on their i-wireless phone when they purchase groceries at Kroger stores. Customers can reduce their wireless phone bills

Unlimited Talk and Unlimited Talk and Text plans start at $40 and $50, but i-wireless subscribers can earn a $1 discount toward their next monthly service fee for every $100 spent on qualifying purchases. Customers who subscribe to a monthly rate plan or a pay-as-you-go plan will receive 20 minutes of air time for every $100 they spend in the store.

Customers who purchase selected i-wireless phones this holiday season will receive 500 minutes of free air time. The offer will be applied in two installments.

Reach LaTina Emerson at (706) 823-3227 or latina.emerson@augustachronicle.com.


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