Our society has gone nuts over the whole Christmas gift buying.
Why? 1. Because we live in a consumer society, and we are more susceptible to propaganda than you think: commercials telling you that you need five TV’s, or buy $20 shirts for $10 even though you don’t need them. We’ve been told we need them.
And 2. I think we are so afraid to just stop giving gifts because of what others will think of us.
“I don’t want to be the bad aunt,” someone told me the other day.
Well, if your niece thinks you are a terrible person because you did not get her a gift, then that’s on her.
Here at Raleigh Green Gables HQ, we celebrate Chanukah, where gifts weren’t part of the original holiday. They came into fashion when marketing companies got savvy, getting Jewish parents to feel guilty their Moshe and Rebecca were left out.
Well, at my house, we don’t give Chanukah gifts. We light the candles and make latkes (fried potatoes) and eat jelly donuts — way better than any gift.
How did I do this? I am the parent, and I have made this rule so. (Confession #2: I also don’t bring gifts to kids birthday parties even if the invitation doesn’t say “No gifts.” I refuse to bring people more junk. My kids make a card.)
I am not anti-gift. I love getting gifts. I am anti-you feeling you HAVE TO get 20 gifts for each person because the world would end if you didn’t. I am also anti-you buying junk your friend does not want. Trust me. I have cleaned it out of their houses.
As far as children go, they are overwhelmed when they have too many toys. It stresses them out. And they don’t need them. Send them outside.
So if you WANT to give a gift — not because you feel guilty or feel pressure — but really want to give a gift, I invite you to give experiences or food — something that is not going to junk up your friend’s house.
I previously wrote about children’s experiences for Carolina Parent, so this year, I will focus on adult experiences.
I always disclose that I received nothing for mentioning these businesses. I don’t operate that way. These are my honest to goodness opinions.
I love Ridgewood Wine and Beer, Seaboard Wine and the Raleigh Wine Shop. The best part of these stores — aside from the tasting room — is they are so knowledgable about wine that I simply call and tell them my average price per bottle I want to spend, and they pick it out. I’ve done this with cases, too. It’s like a big surprise every time you open a bottle. And it takes me five minutes to go in, pick up and pay.
Let’s not forget the beer lovers. I feel like a new brewery pops up here every minute. Here is a map of them across the state. If that is overwhelming, here is the list of the best 10 breweries, according to Yelp. I personally love Trophy Brewing and their pizza. My husband loves going to Crafty Beer Shop because they carry these local beers, so you can try a bunch in one place.
Know a bourbon lover? Get them a gift to The Oak Kitchen and Bourbon Bar. Trust me on this one.
For the coffee lover, get them Larry’s coffee, made right here in Raleigh.
For the chocolate lover, get them bars from Escazu Artisan Chocolates.
Know someone who loves to cook or someone who wants to learn? My friend Pam Clark is the Thyme Savor, and she hosts cooking students in her restaurant-grade kitchen at her home and teaches you whatever you want to know — from the simplest techniques to upping your current game. She does it for individuals, couples, and groups for team building. At the end, you sit down to a meal. And, yes, she sells gift cards.
Carolina Ballet has a few more performances of The Nutcracker this week. Always a classic, and my daughter is in it! (Shameless!) Do you know we also have a professional opera? Give the gift of season tickets to one or both.
The North Carolina Museum of Art is fantastic any time of year, but right now, they have Rolling Sculpture: Art Deco cars from the 1930’s and 1940’s on display that even your smallest art fan could enjoy. Then have lunch in their restaurant, Iris, which is farm-to-table. You can also give the gift of an art museum membership! We are members, and we love it.
Give gift cards to restaurants in the area. If you don’t know about the Triangle’s food scene, you are missing out. We have some of the best chefs in the country from Lantern in Chapel Hill, to Piedmont and Mateo in Durham to Crawford & Son and Poole’s Diner in Raleigh.
Here is a nice roundup of the best restaurants in the Triangle if you need more ideas.
Another great idea for the foodie in your life is to give the gift of a food tour. Taste Carolina food tours are awesome. You spend the afternoon walking either Chapel Hill, Durham or Raleigh and go from restaurant to restaurant, getting little bites and drinks from each. You are so full by the end. And in most cases, the chef comes out to speak to the group.
Want family time? Sit down and watch “Minimalism, The Documentary” on Netflix.
Give the gift of style and buy a few hours with Sheon “The Stylist” Wilson. She will do a closet audit and take you shopping for any clothes that you need. And she does not take you to the cheap places. I bought this for my husband for our anniversary.
College basketball tickets — we get this for our son every year for his birthday.
A Carolina Hurricanes game.
Walk the Greenways with your family.
A gift certificate to the Umstead Spa.
Go to a tea house!
Grow a garden and learn how from Craig LeHoullier, the NC Tomato Guy.
Do you have other ideas? Email me at Raleighgreengables@gmail.com, and I may include them!