Never too late for a present...
Never too late for a present… Photograph: Alamy

It’s 22 December, and if you are among a select group of individuals who like to live dangerously, you have not finished – or even started – your Christmas shopping. Why?

I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps you haven’t heard the incessant barrage of pop-revival Christmas carols blasting from every retail loudspeaker for the past month and a half. Or maybe you were caught off guard by the ceaseless progression of time – “December 25? Again?” Or maybe you’re just busy. Busy and maybe forgetful. Also, definitely doomed.
Well, today is your lucky day. I’m going to help you fix Christmas with a list of thoughtful, unique gifts for just about everyone on your list. And the best part? You never have to set foot in a mall. You’re welcome.


For your partner or spouse

A little dancing will go a long way ...
A little dancing will go a long way … Photograph: Panagiotis Moschandreou for the Guardian

First of all, you should know that I’m sighing loudly. This is your person. They dig hair clogs out of the drain, remember your mother’s February birthday and put up with your nonsensical sleep-talking. In return you’ve left them until 22 December? Program a reminder into your phone for early November next year so this never happens again.

Now, in the opinion of this columnist, the best gift you can ever give your spouse is your time. If you live together, you may see each other a lot, but how much realtime do you spend with each other, sans kids, or house projects or work responsibilities?

Book a mini-break in a nearby city, order breakfast in bed, wander around without a schedule, play tourist, and take the time to thoroughly enjoy each other, uninterrupted.

Alternatively, how about tackling a new skill together? Book a class with your partner: cooking, dancing, learning a new language or instrument, parachute jumping, wine degustation – all are fantastic ways to keep your mind fresh and your partner close. This is especially valuable because it doesn’t end on Christmas Day; your partner can continue enjoying it for weeks or months at a time.

For kids (yours or someone else’s)

Sponsor a snow leopard.
Sponsor a snow leopard. Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

How about a snow leopard? Not a real one – the time of buying exotic pets as gifts went out with bell bottoms – but you can sponsor an endangered animal through the World Wildlife Federation. Your monthly contribution supports anti-poaching initiatives, education and awareness, and promotes sustainable resource use in affected areas.

The WWF will send the gift recipient a plush version of the animal you selected (optional) and a certificate will keep your little friend updated through the year with a kids’ wildlife magazine. A snow leopard! There’s just no better way to be the cool uncle or aunt.

Alternatively, ask the child’s parents what the kid is into. A dinosaur-obsessed little one would go nuts for a pass to a local dinosaur museum, and an aspiring astronomer might love a trip to the local planetarium. Tailor an experience unique to the child you’re purchasing the gift for and they’ll be sure to love it – maybe even more than the latest gadget they’ll unwrap Christmas morning.

Bonus: if you take them to the museum yourself, you’re also getting a gift for the parents – a few hours of precious silence. Merry Christmas indeed!

Friends, close and otherwise

red cross volunteer
Instead of opting for a bottle of wine, choose a gift that supports rescue work. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

You were supposed to be getting together for a quick pre-Christmas coffee, when she mentioned that she has a “little something” for you. Well, shit.

Many non-profits have created gift catalogues in recent years, allowing warm-hearted individuals like you to skip generic bottles of wine or body-care gift baskets, and instead choose gifts which support homeless teens, pets in need, orrescue efforts, for example.

The wide range of gift catalogues means that it’s easy to customize the gift and make it meaningful for the recipient.

And finally…

Just because you’ve left your shopping until 22 December, I’m going to patronize you now with a list of helpful do-not’s, just to cover all of our bases.

Do not under any circumstances give a spouse a gift that’s really for you.

Do not charge into a store and buy the first thing you see: the purchase will almost certainly be unwanted and go to waste, and your thoughtlessness will be evident.

Do not forget that it truly is the thought that counts. Think about who each gift is meant for. Their personality, their interests, their passions and pet causes. Shift gift-giving from a stressful pressure-cooker of consumer panic into a chance to show how well you know someone.

Better yet, use the suggestions above to ensure that this Christmas season, you spread love much further than your living room.

Have a very, very merry Christmas, Guardian readers!

[Source:- the gurdian]

By Adam