Use some thought to help take the stress out of shopping

December 13, 2001

This article was a stumper to write. After all, the reason we chose this subject was that it is a difficult one, and one in which advice is always welcome. Unfortunately, we discovered that this applies to us, too.

We started out in search of the perfect holiday gift for everyone in every category on our list mother, father, siblings, girlfriends and guy friends, teachers and other grown-ups that we appreciate, and, of course, that special someone.

Well, nobody's perfect, but we did come up with a lot of possibilities. We hope these ideas will help someone with their holiday shopping maybe even us.


This is probably the easiest group to shop for because your parents are bound to love (almost) anything you give them.

"With family, the best gifts should not come from the store," said Erin Larive, a senior at Free State High School.

Pictures from the past that recall a child's early years delight parents. Decorate a photo frame, assemble a photo album or go to Kinko's where, for a small fee, they can make a calendar or a mouse pad featuring the images.

For siblings, humorous gifts are a great idea. We suggest anything from a picture of yourself to a random toy that the two of you fought over when you were younger.


Megan Bird, a senior at Free State, buys gifts that "deal with inside jokes or things from the past."

This may be anything from an extraordinary color of makeup to a T-shirt with a funny quote.

When Caity Kennedy, a senior at Lawrence High School, shops for presents she "thinks about the person's personality, and what they like best."

This is good advice when selecting things like CDs, video games, journals, photo albums, jewelry and books.

Journals are always a good possibility, especially when accompanied by a note explaining why you thought this was a good gift for them. You can also share a notebook as a correspondence journal, filling it with letters or pictures for each other and passing it back and forth.

"If something strikes me about a person, I'll try and get a corresponding gift," said LHS senior Esther Turmes. "Otherwise it's just gift certificates."

If your friend has a favorite sport to play or watch, you can probably find corresponding accessories or joke gifts, especially with a team color or name that they enjoy.

Time may be the best gift you can give treat friends to a movie, a lunch or a dessert, where you can either relax together or take time to sit down and talk about things that are important to both of you and catch up on each other's lives.

Downtown is a great place to shop, with a number of stores selling creative and practical gifts in various sizes and prices. Large discount stores have a selection of bulk gifts for low prices.


This category is for teachers, coaches, tutors and mentors especially ones who are adults or whom you don't know well but appreciate. The gift can be as large or small as you want, depending on how you put it all together.

A basket is a perfect way to combine everything, as is a decorated cardboard or empty shoe box, as long as it looks neat and festive. Fill the basket or box with a variety of small and inexpensive items that add up to a meaningful gift.

Chocolate any size and any kind is always a plus. If you're assembling more than one appreciation package, try buying two or three kinds of candy in large bags then putting a little of each kind in each package. The candy can either be in individual bags or combined as a trail mix with cereal, nuts or dried fruit.

For tea and coffee drinkers, include packets or boxes of mix. Scented lotion or soap is always useful.

Small crafts like friendship bracelets or simple ornaments are perfect, especially if you have made them.

A small poem, story or song written out neatly with a personal note can finish the package or be just the beginning. This kind of gift can work at any time of the year (for example, graduation) and for any reason, such as a care package to a friend or sibling at college.

That special someone

This is a chance to get them that shirt you think would look great on them, or that perfume they mentioned they liked but were embarrassed to buy. You can plan an activity, such as making a nice dinner with candles and music, then rent a movie for after.

If you're into words, write out a poem in your best handwriting on or around a picture that means something to one of you it can be a poem you've written yourself, or, if suffering writer's block, one you think is inspirational or simply beautiful.

Make a picture frame or buy a plain one and decorate it with words and picture clipped from magazines. There are already some frames like this for example, ones that say "friends" and then have adjectives like "happy" and "special." But yours will be personal, filled with inside jokes or observations that are special and unique to you and the recipient alone.

A variation of this is the memory box. Decorate the outside with words and pictures from magazines, and fill it with old movie ticket stubs, menus, pictures and cards with your favorite memories recorded on them.

Stuff you can make for everyone

"Almost every year for Christmas I make people Christmas ornaments," LHS senior Kennedy said.

Make a mix tape of a person's favorite songs that can be played in the car to school or work or on the radio at home.

Think of a theme and buy related items. For example, the color red can be a theme find a selection of gifts in the hue.

Or create candles by melting wax and adding crayons for color. Craft stores have candle-making kits and instructions for adding extra touches like scents and dried flowers.

We can't predict what people will think of our gifts, but remember that receiving the gift in the first place can mean more than the gift itself.

Rebekah Zemansky and Sarah Shapiro are seniors at Lawrence High School.

Originally published at: http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2001/dec/13/use_some_thought_to/