What to buy when you don’t know what to buy

Savings Angel

This article, entitled "What to buy when you don’t know what to buy," comes from partner site SavingsAngel.com.

It happens nearly every year. That one gift you wrack your brain over and still don’t know what to buy. Maybe it’s for a youngster that doesn’t need another toy or a teacher that doesn’t need another scented candle or homemade cookie mix in a jar. Maybe it’s an older relative that has limited space or needs or it’s the dreaded office exchange for someone you don’t know very well. Maybe it’s the very toughest of all: the person who doesn’t need anything.

No matter what the gift-giving need, you still want to give something unique, something that shows you put thought and care into selecting the gift. You don’t want to just throw $10 in a Christmas card.

That’s why I’m here to help with a list of suggestions for what to buy when you don’t know what to buy. And, trust me, no boring mugs filled with holiday candy made this list!

#1 Give the gift of a college education.
Giftofcollege.com has partnered with Toys R Us and Babies R Us to now offer a physical solution to gifting college tuition money. You can purchase a physical (or electronic, if you wish) gift card to give the receiver. Ranging from $25-$500, the card you purchase can be used in one of two ways: To add to a child’s college savings plan (529 plan) OR even to help someone pay off an existing student loan. That’s right – you can help someone who is already in college or has gone back to college, to pay off their loans. The beauty of a Giftofcollege.com gift cards is two-fold: You have something physical to give to the recipient, and you know that the money will be used for your intended purchase, unlike just giving cash.

#2 Give the gift of helping others in need.
Select from nearly limitless price ranges and causes and give in the name of your recipient. Tailor your choice to what the receiver cares about. Below are some suggestions, but I advise also considering your state and local community charities.

– Through organizations like Food for the Hungry or World Vision, select from gifts like clean water, shoes, school supplies, and even farm animals that provide ongoing income and food.

– Efforts like the Wounded Warrior Project and Cell Phones for Soldiers allow you to help veterans returning home or to provide talk time for deployed soldiers to connect with loved ones. Through American Humane, you can support active military K9s and veterans. (They have many other humanitarian efforts with animals as well).

– If the giver cares deeply about children, or perhaps is a child themselves, dozens of organizations exist from which to choose. Just a few are March of Dimes, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, and Children’s Miracle Network.

– Humanitarian relief organizations abound, such as the American Red Cross, International Aid, the Salvation Army, and Goodwill. Smaller, local shelters and missions are always in need of donations to continue their work, so look locally as well.

– Is the recipient an animal lover? Plenty of those. Just four are: 4 Paws for Ability, Paws with a Cause, The Humane Society, and Pets of the Homeless. For even more options, zoos and animal sanctuaries always welcome donations.

#3 Give the gift of service.
Acts of service would be at the top of their wish lists if adults wrote letters to Santa. They would love to have someone cook for them without going out, or have the house deep-cleaned; to already have a plan for sprucing up the yard come spring, or finally get that spare room organized. Options and opportunities for gifts of service are all around – so think about the recipient, and comb through local offers on Groupon and Living Social, as well as any locally produced coupon books, for discounts and ideas.

#4 Give the gift of an experience.
What is something the recipient would enjoy but has never done – or maybe did long ago they reminisce about? Think: painting, cooking, learning an instrument or foreign language, dancing, a dinner theater or show, or even one those escape game rooms. See what’s offered locally you could arrange. Again, sites like Groupon and Living Social can help provide both deals and inspiration.

#5 Give the gift of a recurring present.
There are countless “once a month” or “quarterly” gifts, for nearly anything you can think of, from razors to flowers to food. A quick search online will reveal numerous options.

#6 Give the gift of financial help.
No matter their age, people have something in the future they plan to do, whether a school or business trip, a hobby, special event, or even a medical need. Give a handmade gift certificate for money toward their upcoming expense, redeemable when it gets closer.