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Life Kit: Gift-Giving Tips For A Remote Holiday Season

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

No matter who you are or where you are, very little is the same this year. And that feels especially true of the holidays, when you might be physically separated from the ones you love most. But even if you are apart, you can still give a gift. Julia Furlan with NPR's Life Kit has some ideas.

JULIA FURLAN, BYLINE: When you can't hug your loved ones, there's something that feels really nice about sending them something in the actual physical world. But I'm no expert, so I reached out to Tiffany Dodson, associate market editor at Self magazine.

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TIFFANY DODSON: It all, of course, goes back to budget (laughter). That's, like, No. 1, I would say.

FURLAN: I like to think of a budget as a constraint-breeds-creativity kind of situation. And you know what? Your granny was right. It is the thought that counts.

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DODSON: And then, you know, just keeping in mind what that is for each gift, and then honestly being realistic about it and being thoughtful about who you're gifting, what they could use in their lives right now or something that would genuinely brighten their day. And I think those are really strong starting points to think about when shopping for other people.

FURLAN: Yeah, you got to think through what the person needs or really cares about. Here's a gift that Dodson gave recently.

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DODSON: My sister recently moved into a new home, and I surprised her with a bundle of small kitchen utensils that she didn't realize that she needed, like a whisk and a spatula.

FURLAN: Oh.

DODSON: Yeah, thank you. But, yeah, she was really touched, and it really meant a lot to her, even though, you know, the gift itself didn't cost me too much.

FURLAN: Dodson also recommends giving a homemade gift. That can show somebody you care. And, you know, it's not bad on the old wallet either.

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DODSON: Like, you know, you can knit someone, like, a throw for their favorite chair or paint them a picture or bake them something delicious. I think those are all great options.

FURLAN: I have some friends who make this delicious salty-sweet granola, and they put it in cute little Ball jars for all their loved ones. I'm telling you, I wait all year for that granola. Could I figure out how to make it myself? Absolutely. Am I going to do that? No, I'm not going to do that. And that's what makes it a great homemade gift.

Now, there's also the eternal question of all those Marie Kondo fans in your life - you know, the ones that don't really enjoy stuff.

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FURLAN: What do you get for somebody who doesn't like stuff?

DODSON: So there are a lot of creative ways to give impactful presents that someone can enjoy and, you know, have a smile brought to their face from. Perhaps donating money to charity on behalf of someone would be a great option, whether that's $5, $10 or $100. You know, you could also get a gift card to maybe their favorite restaurant in their community.

FURLAN: And here's another idea. Try doing good while you're giving your gift. There is so much need right now that focusing on Black-owned businesses or making an extra effort to shop local can be a really great way of showing that you care. Plus, you know, those big companies - they're going to be fine.

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DODSON: I do think that gift giving could be kind of like a double gift in a way because you can easily give back to your community just simply by purchasing something and then giving it to someone that you care about. So it's kind of just like supporting your community all the way around, but also just, you know, supporting the person that you're shopping for, also.

FURLAN: Above all this holiday season, my biggest wish for everybody is that you give each other the gift of keeping yourselves safe. OK? OK.

For NPR News, I'm Julia Furlan.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU")

MARIAH CAREY: (Singing) Oh, I won't ask for much this Christmas. I won't even wish for snow.

MARTIN: For more gift ideas, check out npr.org/lifekit for the full story. There you will also find resources for navigating grief and the holidays, handling anxious moments, even how to bake a better pie.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS IS YOU")

CAREY: (Singing) I won't even stay awake to hear those magic reindeer click 'cause I just want you here tonight. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.