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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Running out of Gift Ideas?

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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Location: United States

After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Running out of Gift Ideas?

How is your Christmas shopping coming along? Done yet? Have you totally run out of ideas? If you are tired of looking for "stuff", how about putting these nice gifts together yourself?

  • Nice basket with food items and homemade gift certificates are a great gift for new parents or the elderly. I buy my baskets at yardsales and Goodwill. It's amazing what nice baskets you can find!
  • Nice pot or set of small pots with some herb seeds, wrapped up in cellophane and tied with a pretty bow. I like to get those huge rolls of cellophane on eBay and sometimes Sam's Club sells them inexpensively. The craft stores also sell smaller rolls.
  • A decorative holiday plate with cookies and wrapped baked quick breads in foil. Again, use the cellophane and tie with a bow. I like to check Goodwill throughout the year for this stuff, and I recently saw that Kohl's had some on sale already. The closer you get to Christmas, the better chance you have of finding this stuff discounted. Or better yet, shop for it right after Christmas for next year.
  • A Mason jar filled with brownie or cookie mix and a tag with instructions. You can find many recipes on line. One version is called sand art brownies.
  • A basket filled with a few food items (spaghetti sauce and pasta with Parmesan cheese as an example), and then some coupons rolled up and tied with ribbon. Wrap it up with cellophane and a bow. I like to buy those coupons when I can get a $25 restaurant coupon for $3 or less. Get on their mailing list to get notified of these sales.
  • Think about functional gifts. For a college student, a brand new laundry bag with detergent works well.
  • Forget about the ties or fruitcakes. Men have so many ties already, and it's such a cliche and shows you have no thought or effort...don't do it. I think only 5% of the population likes fruitcakes, so unless you know someone who really likes this stuff...don't pass on those bricks please.
  • For retired people, get supportive gifts. Don't get them any more knick knacks! No kitch, liquor or music boxes. Most already have so much of this junk. Start thinking about a stack of greeting cards with stamps nicely tied up with ribbon, fruit or food baskets (you can make them up yourself, you know), grocery store and restaurant gift cards (you can dress these up by putting them in a basket with some edible stuff) or magazine subscriptions (make sure they read or like it first).
  • A nice professionally done photo book telling a story. Many of you can print something like this at home if you have a nice printer. You can go to Kinko's or your local print center and get it bound. Use really nice paper to make it special. All the photo processing sites online also do photo books. Have your book tell a story...use those captions. Your story can be a timeline or revolve around a theme.
  • A new item for their collection. If someone does collect something, then it is okay to get them a new treasure for it.
  • A stamp pad with their return address and a stack of cards and envelopes. This works great for someone elderly too. Not everyone gets those free return address labels through the mail.
  • A copy of a favorite recipe with a kitchen implement or towel attached. Just make sure it is a fabulous recipe or something the person complimented you on once. Make sure the person likes to cook too!
  • Think about gifting an experience, rather than a "thing". How about a balloon flight or a ride with a WWI flying ace? Or be a horse trainer, beer brewer or whatever occupation you can think of....just for a weekend with no strings attached at Vocation Vacation. Keep down the costs by finding a job in your area. The sky is the limit! If that's a little too expensive for you, how about a manicure, pedicure or massage? How about a trip to the local day spa?
  • For you favorite teenager who has an MP3 player, how about music downloads? Get a giftcard from a download center online. I like's download center. Package the card or certificate in a small basket with some edible goodies.
There are also some resources online to get you thinking. Here are some of the ones I've visited recently:

Perfect Present Picker

Gift Wizard Ideas

MSN Shopping Wizard

I also like Amazon's Gift Organizer. When I missed my niece's birthday last year, I sat down the next day and entered everyone's birthday and anniversary into the Gift Organizer in my Amazon account. Now I get emails a few weeks out, reminding me of those important dates. I've yet to forget again! The Organizer also keeps you organized and keeps track of your gifts given. Very handy, so you don't give the same thing twice!

What nifty gifts have you recently given? What are you giving this year? Any new ideas or things you can pass on?

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Blogger (army)Wife said...

Thanks for the great ideas!! I clicked on the link for WWI flying aces and I bought a flight for mu husband for Christmas! He's going to love it and I never would have thought of that on my own!!

December 12, 2007 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife**** said...

How great is that?! Please let me know how it goes...and if you have a pic or two to share would be even better! I was toying myself with the vocation vacation of getting my husband to be a beer brewer for a weekend...he loves to brew beer at home....BUT, he will be gone so much next year...there is really no time! Maybe next year!

December 12, 2007 at 7:21 PM  
Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great ideas. You saved the day with the office gift exchange (no, not a flight; probably the gift of food!). I sell children's books online and one of my customers mentioned she was buying children's books for family members so they could enjoy quality time reading with their new grandson. That seemed like a creative idea I thought others might appreciate.

December 13, 2007 at 1:54 AM  
Blogger Tava said...

This is what I did. I took pictures from our family adventures throughout the past year, uploaded them to Shutterfly and then created a master calendar for our family. This included birthdays and anniversaries from each side of our family. Then I created a 12-month calendar with the pictures I uploaded. I dedicated the boys' birth month to pictures of them exclusively, Halloween pictures in October, Mom and kids pictures in May for Mother's day etc... Then I had Shutterfly ship each calendar to our family members. This eliminated me having to double ship them (Shutterfly to me, and me to them), everyone gets a gift they can use all year long, everyone gets to enjoy pictures of our family and it's a great reminder of birthdays and anniversaries! The only drawback is that my husband's family ended up with all of my mom's family's information, but dates to important to them can easily be over looked. Oh and a bonus--with the coupon I had from Shutterfly, these calendars ended up costing around $15 each! We knocked out Christmas shopping for nearly 20 people on our list in one click!

December 13, 2007 at 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for all the great tips! I know have some more ideas!

December 13, 2007 at 4:02 PM  
Anonymous said...

Great suggestions!

Thanks for participating in this week’s Carnival of Family Life, hosted at Adventures in Juggling. Stop by and read the other wonderful entries!

December 15, 2007 at 8:29 PM  
Blogger thomasboeckman said...

SOme great ideas at this website - - where they have a military category with gifts that can be personalized with names/ranks/personal messages. I got a USAF garden stake for a friend (leaving for Iraq next month) and they absolutely loved it.

February 25, 2008 at 5:16 PM  
Blogger unique said...

One of the things that make Christmas special is the spirit of giving. As children we can’t wait for Christmas morning to open presents. We thought in terms of receiving. As adults we think in terms of giving. And hopefully, our unique Christmas gift ideas are gifts of love. Men look for just the right gifts for women. Women usually shop for men, their own children as well as others, and for family and friends. Here are some suggestions to get you started. .

June 28, 2008 at 4:52 PM  
Anonymous Matt said...

How about some personalized dogtags with a special message...

September 14, 2008 at 6:46 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

That would be something different..I know my MIL did this for our two boys when they were younger..and they felt just like their dad, running around with their dogtags.

September 14, 2008 at 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Christmas Gifts said...

I chanced upon to view your blog and found it very interesting. Great ... Keep it up!. For More information about gifts you can check the Gift Ideas.

December 2, 2009 at 4:48 PM  

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