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Last-minute gifts? Dilemma resolved.
Posted 12/24/2012 6:29:00 AM

Are you one of the 132 MILLION Americans who haven't finished their Christmas gift shopping yet? You may be tempted to just grab some cash from the ATM and toss it into a card. Psychologists suggest otherwise.

The problem with cash is that many people feel guilty about buying things for themselves, and may feel like they 'should' use the money to pay bills or buy necessities like groceries. The same holds true for generic gift cards that can be used anywhere. Instead, consider a gift card for a specific store. That gives the person the opportunity to get themselves something they want, but that they might not have bought for themselves otherwise. A spa gift cards are a great option for a friend who won't normally indulge herself.

When it gets down to the last few hours of shopping, people often fall back on the safe standards - flowers and chocolate. One psychology professor recommends taking a risk instead. Flowers and chocolates are lovely, but don't last. Here again, the suggestion is to buy something that the person will use, but wouldn't have bought for themselves, such as nice headphones, or a very good pen. Memorable, lasting, useful. If you do fall back on the flowers / chocolates, try this alternative to switch things up a little: Instead of flowers, consider a plant - it's longer lasting and gives the recipient the opportunity to be invested in its well-being. And instead of boxed chocolates, any home-made food item adds a personal touch.

One of the key suggestions from psychologists is to give experiences rather than possessions. As much as someone may want a 'thing', people can get used to seeing something every day and the excitement about the item can fade. Experiences create memories, something that lasts a lifetime. Theatre tickets, movie passes, travel reservations - these can all be purchased online and you can print out the tickets or reservations right at home. Of course, most of us will admit that diamonds might be the exception to this rule. 

Fortunately with the internet we have access to simple last-minute shopping that can arrive on time even with Christmas just a day away. E-gift cards. Many online stores give you the option of buying a gift card that can be delivered right to someone's e-mail. You can do all your last-minute shopping in your pajamas. 

Of course, if it really is the thought that counts, the gift of your love, friendship and caring is free and available any time.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Posted By: Ellen Jaffe  

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