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January 4, 2014

A Word of Advice: Make gifts meaningful for all occasions

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The Daily Star

---- — Christmas and other wintery holidays, though religiously and culturally diverse, all share one common element in most of their American incarnations — spending money.  Luckily for teens, that part is over for the season, but some may still face gift-giving commitments in the coming months. With summer jobs over and spending money tight, a teen might be left desperate for ways to make their loved ones feel appreciated in ways only material objects can provide. 

There are plenty of cheap solutions out there, and of course, it is the thought of giving a gift that really matters.However, sometimes a Hallmark card or a Twix bar can be less than impressive to even the most grateful of recipients. Luckily there are plenty of low-cost and no-cost solutions to show those people that you remembered them.

Now, of course, the type of gift to give depends on who you’re intending to gift to. 

You’re not going to want to give your grandmother a coupon for a free back massage or your little brother a set of paper dolls. Typically on a low budget, the best gifts are those from the most creative spaces in your being, so while looking for gifts for others, look within yourself. 

If you’re a good artist, pull out the crayons and construction paper and make your Mom a sentimental card complete with stick figures and hearts reminiscent of kindergarten. If you make music in your free time and aren’t self-conscious, you could write a special someone a song or small diddy. Again, if you’re writing for your girlfriend, it should be a little more Marvin Gaye than Weird Al, and the opposite if you’re writing for your younger sibling.

If you’re not particularly artsy, there’s no reason to fret; there are still plenty of simpler options to make us of in giving a cheap and charismatic gift for the folks. You can always sell your soul to your parents and make a coupon booklet for them filled with various chores and favors, exchangeable at any time for the services listed. However, this is a gift to be wary of, as coupons like those can be turned in at the most inconvenient of times and, more than filling you with giving joy, will make you feel like your bad decision is coming back to bite you. 

Also nice is a calendar adorned with photographs, drawings, small writings or favorite quotes to give to somebody. After all, they’ll remember your generosity every time they go to mark up the calendar or check the date. 

In addition, if you’ve got a printer on hand and you’re familiar with things such as Instagram, it’s also nice to edit and spruce up a nice picture of you and the giftees together with digital effects and then make a nice, colorful cardboard frame for it and give it to them, or simply send it to them, maybe even show them how important they are to you by making it your profile picture on Facebook. Regardless, they’ll feel special when you get the computer to make them pretty and presentable, for THAT uncle everyone has.

I’ve gone over a couple ideas to give as gifts but I’ve come nowhere near touching the vast amount of ideas you could come up with using your unique skill set. More than anything, just think of what you’re good at and how you feel about the giftee, and whammo, you’ve got a smiling face. Even if you think it’s bad, the obvious effort will flatter the recipient and probably make her reciprocate if she haven’t already. It really is the thought that counts, and thoughtful gifts pack plenty of that.

Austin Czechowski is a junior at Cobleskill-Richmondville High School. Would you like A Word of Advice from him? Send him an email at adviceaustin@gmail.com, or send him a letter to “Teen Talk: A Word of Advice,” C/O The Daily Star, P.O. Box 250, Oneonta, NY 13820. ‘Teen Talk’ columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/teentalk.