Choosing just the right gift for ‘your who’

Gift: 1. a thing given willingly to someone without payment; 2. a natural ability or talent

Gift giving can be very stressful for some people, especially if the person they are buying for is very important to them. How do we know what to buy? Advertisers give us great ideas about where, when what’s for sale and how to buy it. We must supply the whos and what we need to buy.

So how do we know what will make our whos happy? We have to know them, and what they like. It may help to remember that we are multidimensional beings. Gifts can be for the body, mind, spirit or social self.

Body gifts include favorite foods, drinks or gift certificates to favorite restaurants or grocery stores, or healthy food supplements. I once bought my mom, who was afraid she was losing her memory, a supplement that had been proven to boost memory. It helped.

Body gifts also include all things wearable: clothing, fragrances, jewelry, hair products, accessories and beauty supplies. Sometimes you can have them personalized, or buy clothing with a team or school logo on them.

Body care is another gift. It includes hair styling and coloring, manicures, pedicures, massages, waxings, facials, skin care products and tools, gym membership and personal trainer gift certificates.

Mind gifts generally include things that would stimulate a person to have a good “think” about something they’re interested in. What does your who get excited talking about? Check out their bookcases, or see what they post in social media. Sudoku, crossword puzzles and solitaire are also relaxing fun games for folks who like mental stimulation.

Let’s not forget computers, tablets, and e-book readers, either as an application to a computer or an individual hand held device. This is a great way to get knowledge at your finger tips, or stay in touch with those you love. Many seniors report liking Kindles or Nooks because they can change the print size and even long books are easy to hold in arthritic hands.

Spiritual gifts uplift people, and remind them of their Creator and the relationship between the two. It helps if you know the faith and denomination of your who. A denomination is a recognized autonomous branch of a church. Don’t assume that your who practices the same faith as you do. In my Hawaiian godfather’s family there are Seventh-day Adventists, Mormons, Catholics, and Baptists. He prays to ke Akua and Jesus, as do many of my Hawaiian ancestry friends.

Once you find out what faith your who is, you can Google it to learn more about it. Even if you do feel familiar with that religion, please understand that spiritual people love God dearly and personally. Unless your who has asked for something spiritually specific, or you know how a person worships, I might use some caution here. Even in the same denominations people worship uniquely. Test the waters.

Social gifts are for those who like to connect with or are concerned for the welfare of others. Free minutes on a phone or computer service may be a great gift. Do Grandma and Grandpa know how to connect with family via email or computer? How about using your “gift” of knowledge and get them started. My husband got his mom on Facebook last year, and she has up to the date postings and pictures of her grandkids. So happy!

Periodically games are revised. If your “who” loves a game, see if there is a newer version of it, and buy that. Some board games are fun for all ages. “Apples to Apples” was played by my Mom when she was 87 years old and had undergone several cancer treatments, which caused the loss of her voice. She beat the pants off of us!

If you’re a good cook, you could “cater” a spaghetti or taco dinner for four at your who’s house, fairly reasonably. They get to invite their friends. Or take them out to a restaurant and just have special time with them. Some people can’t get out as much as they’d like to for physical or financial reasons.

For those who care for the welfare of people the world over, there are two websites you might want to look at: kiva.org  and zidisha.org. Both of these websites allow you to give loans to people in third world countries who need a small amount of money to get a business going. At Zidisha, you get a little interest back. At Kiva, you don’t. You could gift $25 to start your who in kiva relationship. I have a friend who gets incredible pleasure by checking on his “folks” and their projects.

I also believe that charity begins at home. Have you noticed your Dad’s yard, or Mom’s house in need of a little extra help? I loved it the year my strapping teen gave me 10 hours of free gardening! Do Grandma and Grandpa have enough money to buy good food or a treat? Get them a gift certificate at their favorite grocery store, so they can. If they do, make a donation in their name to the Kauai Food Bank, Child and Family Services, the YWCA, Hale ‘Opio and other nonprofits that directly serve people.

Little kids are still developing, so ask them directly what they want. They’ll generally supply a list, because they don’t have access to funds to buy things, and are more susceptible to advertising. Look at their lists. Imagine them using the things on it. Does it seem like something they will use a month from now? Will it help them develop their creativity, or be fun as they learn something important? Is it within your price range? Will they take care of it? Does it have pieces that may get lost and ruin the whole gift? Will the parents approve?

When you ask older folks, they sometimes say they don’t want to be trouble. They’ll say, “Surprise me,” or “I just want your love,” or “I don’t need anything.” They’re probably right. The older one gets, the more one realizes that happiness isn’t from things, but from loving relationships with others. Tell them you’ll call them once a week and send a card for special occasions. Make a special card that lists all the things you love about them and some wonderful memories you have of them. But I always gave my grandma some little things too, like her favorite nail polish and lipstick.

Don’t wait till the very last minute. Begin planning now. Rushing causes one to “settle” for something just because of a lack of time. Gift shopping can be fun, as you remember your loved ones and imagine how happy they’ll be with your wonderful gifts.

Hale `Opio Kaua’i convened a support group of adults in our Kaua’i community to “step into the corner” for our teens, to answer questions and give support to youth and their families on a wide variety of issues.  Please email your questions or concerns facing our youth and families today to Annaleah Atkinson at aatkinson@haleopio.org

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