Sunday, December 9, 2012

The Gifts that Stop Giving

Grandparents and other family members love these notepads illustrated with children's own artwork

It seems that there comes a time in everyone’s life that they have enough. One day they just seem to wake up, discover that they have it all and now, suddenly, they don’t want any more. “I don’t need any more stuff.  I don’t want any more stuff. I can’t take any more stuff,” they announce with religious fervor. But, this declaration is not just a personal revelation. It’s an order. And it’s a warning shot across the bow of the Good Ship Happy Holidays. Hell hath no fury like a senior citizen who is gifted one more pair of slippers, one more very special coffee mug or one more framed photograph of the precious grandkids.

As the brave and true captain of my own holly jolly skipjack, dredging about for the perfect grandparent holiday giftee, I take heed of the warning sent my way and merrily ignore it. You see, I can ignore it because I completely agree: they all have too much stuff. The garage shelves sway under the weight of it all, the basement requires a helmet light and a map and the bi-fold closet doors in your old bedroom won’t close without a hip bump. Enough is actually enough. But it’s Christmastime and we all love sharing with our family and friends. So, I say, it’s time to start giving the gifts that stop giving.

But don’t fret, gifts with planned obsolescence can be thoughtful, creative and festive. Our favorite holiday gift for the grandparents is a pad of paper with our childrens’ artwork printed along the bottom or up the side. This gift is perfect beyond words: it’s crazy inexpensive, personal, useful and best of all: finite.

Here’s how you do it: we have our children create one or two simple line drawings that we email over to Kinko’s (yep, I don’t even drive it over there). We include instructions on size (we like 8.5 x 5.5), the order of drawings (we like one, two, three, one, two, three, etc) and binding (we like the gummy thing on top) and pages per pad (we like 50 or 75). Like little Christmas elves, they take all our art and instructions and make the magic happen. For less than $5.00 a pad, we have something to give that is both adorable and useful and best of all: it won’t add to that tangible pile of good intentions. And rest assured: people love these pads. We give them to the grandparents, babysitters, aunts and uncles and even friends of the family. We even get requests for pads from our parents’ friends who don’t know our kids. If someone does something nice for our kids, even the smallest kindness, she gets a pad. Everyone loves the pads!

So as the holidays approach, and you find yourself in a sea of slippers, mugs, and picture frames, why not set your sails toward the perfect gift: the one that stops giving.

Here are some more perfect gifts for those on your list that seem to have everything:

Delicious Shortbread Cookies 
Luxurious Handmade Soap
Lovely Notecard Set


  1. Oh Barbara....I am crying after reading this from laughter. You have nailed it on this one! From the garage, basement, closets, etc....! So very true.

    I'm 56 and already telling my kids NO MORE STUFF! Even Gift Certificates don't get used! PADS ARE PERFECT! SO VERY, VERY PERFECT!!!

    Love this POSTING.... PERFECT!



  2. So true, Barbara! My mom is 89 and doesn't have a lot of money so what she gets every year are gift cards for grocery stores, Walgreens, etc. and she loves it. She says no more stuff as I say to my kids, please nothing I have to much. Take us out to dinner and have a conversation.

    Great job.


  3. The gift of time is a wonderful suggestion! The price is right and it always fits!! My parents love to spend time with their grandkids- they will take as much of that as we can give!!

  4. I find myself saying that - I don't want One More Thing! But a pad like these - would make me smile everyday! Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea!