Giving True Thanks Over the Holidays, Ideas from

Oakland, California (EastBayDaily) — Right around the corner, Thanksgiving will kick off the 2012 holiday season. Then, in the blink of an eye, Christmas, Hanukah and New Years will have come and gone. Here are some ideas for giving gifts that mean more and cost less. Whether for a dorm mate, roommate, partner or parents people appreciate gifts with personal meaning.

Tip #1: Start Thinking Now Be on the lookout for things that people say they want and need. Listen to people’s everyday comments and complaints for clues that will help with gift ideas. In addition to being delighted with the gift itself, loved ones will be thrilled to know that someone listened to them. Waiting until the last minute leaves the shopper desperate and often short on ideas.

Tip #2: Say It with Style For big water drinkers, put a message in a bottle and give it with love.

For the coffee connoisseur, a "Create-Your-Own-Mug" from Starbucks costs $15.00 and, when filled with a personal message and the recipient’s favorite candies, the pleasure will be immediate as well as long lasting.

Start a family tradition with a white tablecloth and a black Sharpie. Before the meal, give people a few minutes to write on the cloth what they are thankful for or what they hope for in the New Year. Once everyone is done, have those who care to do so share their message out loud. Wash with care and use at the next holiday or the next year.

As always, homemade treats with a personalized message hit the heart and the tummy.

Tip #3: Personalized Service Lend a hand and a few hours of childcare to a parent or couple needing a night off. People do always like to ask for help, so offer instead. Babysitters are expensive and time is easy to give.

A home-cooked meal is a big treat for someone too busy to cook. This roasted lemon chicken recipe is easy to make, and the leftovers are great.

Massage those tired feet or sore shoulders. For people who like a massage, this gift is a great treat, whether personal or professional.

Tip #4: Create a Memorable Moment People are more likely to remember and cherish a shared experience than a trinket, toy or tool. A day trip, weekend rendezvous or full-blown vacation are all good options. Look for online deals to take advantage of sharing an adventure with a loved one. Many airlines have gift certificates available for purchase online.

Tip #5: Give a Gift that Keeps on Giving Live and learn and learn some more: give the gift of classes, such as crafts, physical skills, hobbies or to expand the mind.

Contribute to someone’s continued or future education. For most families, every little bit of money for college helps. If you start early, the money will all add up over the years. If the child ends up not going to college, the money can be used for travel or other educational purposes.

Donate to a family member or friend’s favorite charity. Individuals and bequests contribute approximately 80% of all philanthropic dollars. With a gift like this, everyone wins. Every little bit makes a difference. Thanks to Super Storm Sandy, many people on the East Coast will be having a very different holiday season thins year. A donation to give relief will be appreciated.

Photo books are a great way to show your love, especially for family members who live at a distance and don’t get to see you and your day-to-day life. If you are feeling really creative, make a photo storybook for young family members to enjoy as a bedtime story. Use Shutterfly or a similar online service to design a photo album for as little as $13.00.

Regardless of what is given, it is the thought that counts, so start thinking and making a list.

For more information about moving in and living together, go to About merge2gether ( Founded in 2011, merge2gether is headquartered in Oakland, California. is an online community offering resources to guide people as they think and talk through the process of moving in with another person. merge2gether provides free information, questions-and-answers and ideas to people of all ages and at all stages of life.


Beverly Aabjerg

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