Everyone likes to give gifts that "Wow!" We love the anticipation as the gift getter rips or sometimes agonizingly peels off the paper. But once the exciting moment is over there's not much left. The gift goes into a pile, then migrates to a closet where you, the giver, may never see it again. So this year save yourself the heart palpitations and give some boring gifts that they'll really love.
For the kids: Sure Johnny may say that he wants a Guitar Hero, but underneath he's really hoping to begin his investment portfolio--he just doesn't know it yet. Really getting Johnny hooked on the wacky world of Wall Street isn't such a crazy idea. Though the market is crazier than a fruitcake this year, remember stocks are going cheap. You can purchase a few shares of the company that makes his favorite pastime through Sharebuilder or ETrade. Then teach him how to follow his stock, purchase additional shares, etc. Don't you wish someone explained all that mumbo jumbo when you were a kid.
Then there's Suzy. She's already got a college picked out. You could help her get there by contributing (or even starting) her college fund. You don't have to be a parent or grandparent to contribute to an Educational Savings Account. Think of the investment you'll make in our nation's future and in Suzy.
For the person who has everything: Chances are that these people still need to eat. You can help make grocery shopping more fun. And you can help local farmers by giving them a share in Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). Basically you purchase a weekly box of fruits and vegetables right from the farm.
Or, remember those fruit-of-the-month or wine-of-the-month programs? Put a new and more personal spin on it by giving your own homemade dinner/dessert/whatever-of-the-month. This is a gift that might even motivate you to learn how to make something new.
And if all of that is too much for you...you can always give a little of your time.
So there are a few boring ideas for gifts. But remember that it's the least exciting gifts that are usually the most appreciated