Thoughtful Holiday Giving


I love the holiday season! My family celebrates Christmas, and I get things started the day after Thanksgiving. The tree goes up, the stockings are hung, the carols are playing and the vanilla candles are burning (my mom always burned vanilla candles at Christmas time, so it’s not Christmas without them).

Once the house is sufficiently decorated it’s time for my favorite pastime — shopping. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: I absolutely heart shopping. It doesn’t have to be for anything exciting or for me personally, I just love hitting the stores to see what treasures I can find. As an image consultant, I need to know what the cutting-edge fashions are … so technically it’s work, right?

Many of you will probably be hitting the stores this holiday season to purchase gifts for family, friends and co-workers. A mistake I have made, and one that I see made often, is purchasing gifts based on the personal taste of the giver rather than the taste of the recipient. To make your task a bit easier and your season a little brighter, I’m giving you some shopping suggestions.


You would think this would be the easiest group to buy for, but that’s not always true. Take my husband, for instance: he has few material desires, and when he really wants something, he goes out and buys it. I’m sure you all have someone in your life like this — so what do you do?

My recommendation is to buy them something that they will enjoy, but might not go out and purchase for themselves. Certainly, your budget will dictate what that is. For example, if your spouse likes golf, you could purchase a golf trip, a round of golf or a subscription to a golf magazine. What you don’t want to give him is a cashmere scarf — please, take my (or my husband’s) word on that. If all of those are out of the question, consider giving them a “golf experience” in which they get an array of snacks, beverages and (most importantly) silence during the next Masters Tournament.


Shopping for friends is always the easiest for me for some reason. When it comes to purchasing gifts for friends, I recommend something that reminds them of things you’ve experienced together. I know that my best friend Candy would love a CD of the 80s music we listened to growing up. It’s so easy and cost-effective to purchase individual songs and burn a custom compilation (there’s one person checked off my list!).

A bottle of wine for a wine-loving friend would go over well, too. There is a local business, Dusty’s Cellar, that sells top-shelf wines for under $15 a bottle — you can’t go wrong there. Treating a friend to dinner is always a nice present. You can make it even more special by hosting them at your house for a home-cooked meal.


Co-workers and bosses may be the trickiest group to buy for. I recommend staying away from personal items like cologne or clothing. Gift certificates are acceptable but can be complicated. There can be a delicate balance between what is considered too little and what may be construed as too much. Books on topics of interest are good choices, as are gift baskets of seasonal items. Florida oranges, summer sausage with crackers and delectable candies scream, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”

Just because you’re not in grade school anymore doesn’t mean you can’t make a gift. Fresh baked Christmas cookies and homemade fudge are a welcome treat to almost anyone. A unique holiday ornament is nice, and the receiver will think of you each time they hang it for many years to come.

No matter how you decide to recognize those nearest and dearest to you, remember that it truly is the thought that counts. Gifts are certainly nice, but a kind gesture done out of love and appreciation last a lifetime. A letter saying how much they mean to you or how their mentoring has helped you grow is priceless. If you feel like you have to spend money, you can consider making a donation in their name to a cause that means something to them.

I wish you and yours a wonderful and memory-filled holiday season.

Tags: co-workers, family, friends, holiday, holiday giving, thoughtful giving


Shelley Davis Mielock

Shelley Davis Mielock is a certified business image coach and the founder of Mieshel Image Consulting, a Lansing-based firm that specializes in image development for individuals and businesses. She is also a co-host of In Her Shoes, a a weekly women’s talk radio show. To ask Shelley an image question, please e-mail her.

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