The Best Holiday Gifts (Now, This Is Getting Personal!)

I hear people saying how stressed out they get over the holidays with what to buy, especially for people who are hard to shop for. What to get them? It’s impossible! The problem is they’re thinking like consumers, not someone looking for something personal.

What thing should I be buying that will fulfill the gift requirement? Something that has a visible price attached to show it’s a good gift. I don’t want them to give me a good gift and I get them something chintzy.

That’s capitalism at work right there. I’ve got to show up and have the impressive gift–spend a lot of money so they know that I was thinking of them, and to make sure they don’t one-up me with a pricier gift! (That’s crazy talk right there!)

What if the reason they’re so difficult to buy for is because they don’t need anything? What if the best gift were something that wasn’t so tangible like those scarfs, ties and socks or electronics, DVDs or watches, and the myriad other things that just get added to the stuff bin. Items that as they open them they try to sound excited about but they’re not really–they get them every year and they’re never needed, it’s a waste of money.

Here are some ideas:

What about gifting an experience? Tickets to something that they might enjoy attending? A theater show or sporting event, even movie theater tickets with enough funds to cover the high price of popcorn could be fun.

What about a nice meal out with you? People often wish they had time together rather than more stuff. A dinner to look forward to, maybe get dressed up and have a reason to go on the town.

Or ice cream and a walk, it’s about time spent not the ice cream, though you both also get ice cream!

What about art or other artisan items? Handmade jewelry, food specialties, furniture, decorative art, sculptures? What you get says a little something about you as well as gifts them something that’s one-of-a-kind and keeps them reminded of you. Plus, you’re supporting a local artist.

What about lessons to learn something new? There are online Master Class videos but even better yet, there are plenty of people in your neighborhood teaching everything from music to dance to woodworking and the arts. I myself teach photography and it’s a wonderful thing to see young people as well as people of all ages learning to see with a camera, that it’s so much more than aiming and pushing the button. They’re learning a new language. They’re seeing how to use photography to document their life, photograph the people they meet (a camera is a great meeting tool), and share their experiences with others.

Since I’m a photographer…

What about a special high-quality portrait of them in action? Something that documents something amazing about their life? Many people would say, “What for?” they make photos all the time, but they’re not photos, they’re snapshots–gone a moment after they’re seen and certainly not made with any intention of lasting.

How about a high-quality portrait session like people used to do, to create art out of loved ones’ faces? How about a photo shoot with a family member’s hobby, whether something athletic, arts and crafty, or simply at play?

How about an amazing legacy portrait of grandparents made in studio looking and feeling their best? To have a portrait good enough to be printed and framed at home with the kids and grandkids, so they can live with their smile, their smirk, the light in their eye? Order prints for each of the siblings. Your holiday shopping is complete.

Not to leave out the other family members. What about having studio portraits of the parents and kids made? Childrens’ photographs framed and displayed at home communicate to them that they’re an important part of the family.

Or even full family photographs. There are famous photographs like these where families do the same pose every year and they get to document their growing family.

Nobody’s getting any younger. People say they want to make high-quality artful portraits but then wait and wait until it’s too late. Family members pass away. If we want to make portraits like these, we have to make them now. And with the holidays here, when looking for gifts, think about the artists, the ones who can make something that will last long after that pre-packaged wrapped item if tucked away and forgotten.

Art is what makes life great. Support the artists that are nearby to your community. Whether it’s music, theater, crafts or wall art, there are gifts that don’t have to cost a lot, and the fact that you thought to get something personal, regardless of the price, that’s enough.

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