I LOVE giving gifts. I love thinking about gifts. I love looking for gifts. I love wrapping gifts. But more than anything I love surprising someone with a gift they didn’t expect.

How can I afford to be so generous on a retirement budget? It’s easy and ever so much fun. You know that I pride myself on my millionaire lifestyle even though I’m retired. It’s all a matter of attitude, whether you’re entertaining, decorating, or traveling.

What Do People Really Want At Christmas?

Repeat after me: It’s not about the money you spend on the gift. It’s about the creative thought you put into thinking about someone. It’s about the wow factor of beautiful wrapping.

 
 

What’s my mantra? Good taste and luxurious sentiment doesn’t have anything to do with money.

What do people really want at Christmas? They want connection. They want to feel appreciated. They want to feel less alone. They want to be thought of. They want to be pampered. They want to be surprised. They want to be charmed and delighted. Most of all, they want to be loved.

For Me, Christmas “Happens” When I Give

I especially like to surprise and honor the people who make my life better, whether it’s my newspaper delivery man, the lady at the supermarket who slices my roasted turkey breast, the man who sells me my insurance. It is absolutely priceless to see the look on someone’s face when I present them with “a little something” they weren’t expecting.

Giving Gifts Makes Me Feel Happy

Giving gifts makes me feel like the most extravagant, generous, happy person in the world. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

First of All: It’s All in The Wrapping

Before I give you some inexpensive but powerful gift ideas, I need to set the tone about wrapping: The wrapping is just as important as the gift, if not more so!

A beautifully wrapped gift sets the tone of the moment: You are special. When you take the time to wrap a gift beautifully, it shows you respect the gift you’re giving and you respect the giver. Beautiful wrapping makes a gift precious. So banish the gift bags forever.

I’m not talking about spending a fortune on pricey wrapping paper or fancy ribbons. Heck no! My secret? Brown wrapping paper or newspaper! Besides being ecological, it’s très cool! Go to Pinterest and take a look at the AMAZING wrapping ideas with newspaper and brown paper. Positively inspirational! I create masterpieces that thrill, going for an uber chic look against the norm of red and green.

Brown Kraft paper with a black ribbon and branch of pine makes a chic statement. Or, I hand stamp the Kraft paper, or paste images or letters from magazines, or squiggle a pattern with a pen. Pale green tissue paper with a pale blue bow. Pinterest, people, Pinterest. Have fun getting inspired, and, you’re welcome!

Shiny and Tiny

This is a joke in my family, because when they ask me what I want, I always say, “Shiny and tiny.” Everyone thinks jewelry, but the fun is in interpreting “shiny and tiny.”

My adult children have presented me with a bottle of cool, shiny nail polish, or a tube of luscious lip balm. Yep, they’re tiny and shiny. Or a new pen – who doesn’t love to receive a fab (not expensive – check the paper store) new pen? A bottle of cookie glitter was one year’s offering, because I am a baker.

Consumable Gifts Are Always Cherished and In the Best of Taste

You know that moment… You open a gift and think, Oh dear, I can’t use this or, I already have one or, what am I going to do with this?

I don’t know about you, but I pretty much have everything I “want.” Another “thing” in the house doesn’t make me happy. But a consumable gift is a bit of delight and luxury.

A tube of anchovy paste. A small bottle of gourmet salt. No one has ever not been delighted with a bottle of wine or a small jug of maple syrup. A tin of exotic olive oil. Yes, please! All the better if you can really tailor your gift to the recipient. Again, big and extravagant is not the issue; something thought about and precious is.

A Taste of Luxury

Luxury for me is about preciousness and sensuality. I’m talking about a beautiful bar of artisanal soap. An exotic spice I’ve never heard of. A beautiful little notebook to write in. A bar of gourmet chocolate. Doesn’t have to be big, or a lot. It’s very smallness makes it precious.

I’m so filled with gift ideas that I’ve got a Part Two to this article! Remember, love and appreciation don’t have a price tag. Give your beautifully wrapped gifts and feel like a millionaire!

Which things (or experiences) do you feel make the best gifts? How are you approaching your holiday shopping this year? Come and tell us your secrets!

Liza DunkelElizabeth Dunkel is a writer and novelist who has lived in Merida, Yucatan, Mexico for 25 years. She is the Creative Director of Camp Liza www.campliza.com, a personal blog about stylish and creative living. “A thoughtful life is a luxe life.” Elizabeth is the proud founder of the Merida English Library. She discovered a second career as a CELTA certified teacher of ESL and is Merida’s first, only and best college coach www.superenglishmerida.com.

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