Parents usually make the effort to ensure their children have presents at Christmas, but when money is a problem, the spouse is one of the first to fall by the gifting wayside. It is tempting to justify taking our spouse off the gift list. After all, they are well aware that the budget simply cannot stretch any further. They will understand that a gift is unaffordable, won’t they?
There is a way to keep your partner on the gift list, even if your budget screams in rebellion. The most precious gifts I have received did not come from the mall. They weren’t bought online either. They didn’t cost an arm and a leg, or even just a finger. Some cost only pennies. Most did take an investment of time on the part of the giver. However, not all of my precious gifts demanded a lot of time of the giver - some just needed a fresh perspective and a dash of creativity.
What if you don’t feel creative, and like most of us don’t have hours to sit around and dig deep until the creative juices flow?
The good news is that you can make this happen with a few minutes of "thinking" time, and a little longer of "doing" time. Make yourself a cup of tea or coffee, pick up a pen and paper, and prepare for an out-of-the-box experience. Without giving it too much thought, brainstorm a list of words that describe what your spouse enjoys most. You can stop when you have ten words or phrases. For example, your list may look something like this:
My wife enjoys.... (1) reading, (2) doing puzzles, (3) telling jokes, (4) baking, (5) dancing, (6) watching old war movies, (7) sucking lollipops, (8) gardening, (9) the smell of sun-dried linen, (10) jogging.
My husband enjoys... (1) fishing, (2) sex, (3) walking the dog, (4) watching sports, (5) photography, (6) surprises, (7) wearing yellow shirts, (8) gardening, (9) swimming, (10) writing poetry.
Now make a second list by brainstorming things you can DO (not buy) to provide for your partner’s enjoyment. For example, next to “My wife enjoys (1) reading and (8) gardening,” you could put “hand write a love letter to my wife, and seal it in an envelope filled with petals from her favorite wild flowers”. Next to “My husband enjoys (8) fishing,” you could write “search online and find the tide charts for the next 52 weekends; cut and paste the charts, leaving space for recording catches, into a document and print this document in booklet format; make a colorful cover for the booklet using a local outdoor store's sales brochure”.
With a few minutes of effort, you will discover that you can give your husband or wife a delightful gift that will cost little or nothing. In the next couple of posts, we will include some of our own gifting brainstorms, so you can see how easy it is to stretch your imagination beyond the obvious.
This year, challenge yourself to think outside the box when it comes to spousal gift-giving on a tiny budget. Don’t use the lack of money as an excuse for not giving your husband or wife a gift this Christmas. Rather, use it as the motivation for giving a thoughtful gift to your soul mate and best friend. Forget about a trip to the busy mall. Forget about shopping online for those discounted deals. Just invest a little of yourself in your gift. No-one knows your spouse better than you do. Who better to give him or her a truly creative and perfectly suited gift than you?