It’s that season again: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Administrative Assistant’s Day–manufactured holidays that put social pressure on us to purchase greeting cards, gifts, and the like in order to show our appreciation for someone once a year.
Few things irritate me more than seeing hoards of people living on moderate-to-limited incomes throwing money away on worthless merchandise that they’ve been brainwashed into buying. So please, let me step down off my soap box and make a few simply suggestions.
First of all, let’s show our appreciation for those we care about on a frequent, regular basis (daily if possible), independent of any calendar notation.
Second, with all due respect to greeting card companies and florists, let’s communicate openly and honestly to those we care about. For example, let’s tell them, “I love you, but I don’t think spending a hundred dollars on a dozen roses on February 14th is a prudent way to show it.” Your feelings for them are eternal, but the roses won’t last a week and you could have made much better use of that money.
Here are some equally impressive, but less expensive and much smarter gift ideas:
Buy an orchid. They are living plants that look beautiful and continue to live and bloom for months or even years after purchase. An ice cube every day or so and just a little sun will keep them healthy.
Buy a fragrant, but not overly-sweet, high-quality candle. Gift wrap it. Include a card. Give. Candles work wonders in the bathroom…and the bedroom. (Wink, nod.)
Send a card for no reason at all. Scribble a brief, sincere note. Drop it in the mail.
Invite the people you care about over for a home-cooked meal. You don’t have to be a chef. You simply have to make an effort. If they ask what they can bring, suggest wine, flowers, or dessert, but no pot luck. This is your treat for them.
So skip the cut flowers, candy, balloons, and junk that you’re being pressured to buy by retailers. Be like Old Money: give things that last, on your own terms, and in your own time.