I once got an invitation to a party that said "your PRESENCE is requested, not your PRESENTS."  I thought that was so beautiful and really made me think about gift-giving.  Sometimes people just want time with you.  Or an act of service or kindness.  These are things that money can't buy.

That ties into two of my new favorite types of gifts to give.  One is the gift of a shared experience.  For example, my niece loves theatre so I give her tickets to a show that we can see together.

The other type of gift comes from going shopping WITH the person you're wanting to give to.  Case in point, when my sister and I were in NYC Thursday and it was freezing cold outside, she was drawn to a window display of beautiful hats.  Because she wasn't wearing a hat of her own, I led her into the store, called over a salesman, and encouraged her to try on hats until she found one she really liked.  It gave me great pleasure to see her smiling in the store and once we got back out into the frigid air.   I had been struggling with what to get her for Christmas so I'm glad that the hat idea popped into my head that night.

Another time, as a gift to my nephew, an avid reader, I took him to the book store.  I told him to wander and select a few books that he wanted.  The fun for him was feeling he was on a mini shopping spree.  The joy for me was spending quality time with him, seeing what he's interested in and encouraging his love of reading.

These two ways of giving gifts can easily be offered in a card that can be opened for the holidays.  The actual experience or shopping trip can happen at a later date.  So maybe it will help you if you were dreading a last minute trip to the store.

I love the assurance that the items are just what the relatives want.  No guessing.  No returning.  No regifting.

It's a win-win.