My "Perfect Gift"

It’s that time of year!  Everyone is scrambling to get their last minute Christmas gifts before this coming Sunday!  Many of us are also trying not to break the bank as well.

christmas, jamie leonard photography, presents.jpg

Christmas is a lovely time of year – but let’s admit it – it can be stressful at times too.  Between figuring out what to buy your loved ones, to online shopping gone bad, having to deal with returns because you found something better, and  - one of the worst – trying to manage your budget while finding the perfect gifts!

The perfect gift… What is the perfect gift?  The perfect gift means something different to everyone, but I consider the perfect gift to be something thoughtful, from the heart, that will not be forgotten as the years go by.

jamie leonard photography

I feel I have given “the perfect gift” on a number of occasions, and let me tell you, they were the least costly, most thoughtful, and most memorable gifts that I have given.  And not just memorable to me, but gifts that were either displayed to see on a daily basis, or kept for years in a safe place to be revisited time and time again.

Here are some of my favorite gifts to give (and receive) that are also budget friendly because - Hey! - Christmas is not about spending all your money!

1.     A Photo Gift

Yes, I am a photographer, but I swear I am not touting photo gifts just because of my profession!  Since I was very young I have always seen the value of hard print photographs.  There is something about looking through a physical album or holding a solid photograph in your hand that you just can’t get from looking at your digital collection. 

Sadly, most of us today tend to get caught up in the digital world and forget all to often to actually print our images!  Framing a photograph for a loved one is an inexpensive gift, but one they will cherish for years to come!  (Don’t have any photos that you want to frame?  Contact me to purchase a gift card for a select amount towards a session of your choosing! Also a great gift!)

Looking for a nice, inexpensive frame?  One of my favorite places to look at frames is at T.J. Max – they have a very nice variety and often you can find a beautiful frame for less than $10!

One of the most memorable gifts that I have given in the past was a mother’s day gift in which I framed an old photograph of my mother and I alongside a poem I had written.  I must have been in elementary school at the time (and therefore hard up for cash!) but the result was beautiful, and this gift sits on my mother’s dresser to this day.  This leads me to my next tip….

What'd I tell ya?  Right on her dresser, for years!  It ranks up there with the wedding pictures!

What'd I tell ya?  Right on her dresser, for years!  It ranks up there with the wedding pictures!

2.     Write Something

This is so simple, yet often overlooked.  It is possible that I may even get a little carried away at times (I tend to refer to the cards that I give loved ones as “books”) but I honestly believe there is great value to putting your thoughts and feelings on paper.

Another thing I have done since I was young is write poems (cue my mother telling you about my unicorn poem) and if this is something you are capable of, then give it a try!  My guess is if you have anyone in your life that enjoys reading, quotes, or those wooden display items with painted phrases, they would probably love to receive a poem from you – “how thoughtful" they will say!

the unicorn...it became a thing...

the unicorn...it became a thing...

Not the poem type?  Forget the rhyming!  Buy a nice card and spill your guts!  Write until there is no room left!  Don’t regret the things you do not say – Say them!  Give your loved ones physical proof, written on paper, of how much they mean to you!

My husband is soo not the write down your feelings kind of person – but I am!  Think about the person you are trying to gift, not yourself.  When I was in basic training my husband was forced to write to me or endure weeks on end with scant communication.  I came across my stack of letters earlier this year that I had saved and probably spent an hour going through them, reading them; there may even have been a few tears.  I would trade all the gifts he ever gave me for those letters.  On to #3…

3.     Make Something

This one may be a little more time consuming than the other two, but well worth it.  Nothing says "from the heart" like something you’ve made by hand for someone else.  Are you a handy man or handy woman?  Make something crafty out of wood – be it a spice rack for your favorite cook or a memory box for your significant other.  Remember those wooden display items I mentioned earlier?  With the painted phrases?  Give it a go!

Not that handy?  Buy a cheaper memory box and fix it up!  A few years ago I did this exact thing for my husband.  I bought a wooden, unlined memory box, made a fancy lining for it with a little fabric and cardboard, and had a light metal plate engraved at a jewelers that I put on the inside of the lid – it turned out wonderful! 

If you’re a bit of an artist – draw something and frame it!  There are so many things you could do – take advantage of the technology available (like Google and Pinterest!) to find a craft that’s perfect for you!

He saved some of my letters too!

He saved some of my letters too!

4.     Homemade Cookies!

Top off one of your “perfect gifts” with some yummy homemade cookies!  This is a cheap and yet delightful gift for the holidays.  Everyone loves cookies – need I say more? 

Maybe to you, these are not the “perfect gifts” that you envisioned.  But I can tell you, they will be cherished for a much longer time than the latest game console or trendy piece of jewelry, both which will be outdated in the next year or so.  And if you’re on a budget, like I am this year, these kinds of gifts still show how much you care. 

After all, Christmas is not about the material things…

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store. What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more!” 
― Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

jamie leonard photography
jamie leonard photography

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!  From my family to yours!