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For Christmas this year, give gifts that really look well thought-out: Column

Ceason Ranson
Ranson Ritings

I feel for people who are not natural gift-givers. It's not your fault; you just didn’t get the gene that makes you capable of giving a thoughtful gift without having to be told exactly what to get. Maybe you’re really non-materialistic, so you don’t drift through a store, see something, and say “Mom would love that.” You think instead “She doesn’t need that,” and then you don’t understand why she’s looking at you over Christmas dinner with the ham carver in her hand and murder in her eyes. There’s nothing wrong with lacking that gift-giving gene, so long as you seek the professional help you desperately need.

Enter me. I am, at my core, a gift-giver. It's my top love language: giving gifts. I get it honestly from my mother, the Queen of Thoughtful Gifts. Every good gift I’ve ever gotten in my life has nearly always come from her, and my dad was just lucky that she put his name on the tag. She can roam through a store and spot the one item among hundreds that can bring the biggest smile to someone’s day, or remember one detail from a conversation months or even years ago that she spins into a thoughtful present. It's one of her true talents, right up there with setting home-decorating trends and giving nicknames.

And I like to think that that talent has rubbed off on me, so it's only right that in the spirit of Christmas, I help out those of you who have nothing but dread when you start seeing ads for Black Friday, and who seem impervious to all the hints dropped from the people you care about about what they might want under the tree. Now a truly good gift is thoughtful and fit for the individual you’re buying it for, but I don’t have time this year to meet all my readers’ families and friends and find out their likes for you, so you’re going to have to do some gift-personalizing on your own. We’ll start small with:

Food items: Best gift I ever got my dad was a four-pack of ice cream that had his favorite flavors in it, and a personalized label naming his creation “The Bo-Didian.” I got it from ecreamery.com, and you pick from a bunch of different combinations, and a few label choices. Now if you are not good at coming up with clever ice cream flavor names, don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who is. When it comes to thoughtful gift giving, there’s no shame in getting help from people cleverer than you are. That doesn’t negate the thoughtfulness — it only shows you were committed to getting it right.

If personalized ice cream is still too advanced for your gift-giving abilities, then go more basic (but no less tasty) with a gift certificate to their favorite local restaurant. It's easy, yet thoughtful, and if you slap the right bow on the envelope, they might even invite you to come along for a Yacht Club Burger of the Month or a Roadhouse steak dinner. Food items are always great for adults you love and for adults you just need to get a present for, whether you like them or not. But what about the almost-adults in your life, the teens, who haven’t been impressed with anything you’ve done for them since they got to middle school? Then get them:

LED lights. I absolutely give you permission to cop out and give gift cards to the teens in your life, especially if those gift cards are to local stores they love. In their case, it's okay, because they’re still trying out their tastes and maybe they don’t want to share that with you yet. But if you can, attach said gift card to a present they can open as well (don’t let the teens fool you — they still like unwrapping presents), and right now, the teens are all about LED lights. As long as Tik Tok and Snap Chat and Instagram Reels are a thing, teens are going to be looking to create cool backgrounds for their phone videos, most of which are shot in their bedrooms.

So LED lights in varying colors that they can stick to the walls are a great way for them to inject some cool into their room and their videos. If you’re an intermediate gift giver, figure out their favorite color and give them a roll of those LEDS; if you’re a beginner, give them a multi-color strip and know you did your best.

If you want to go the gift-card route, but want your teen to use that card for unique room décor, I recommend getting them a gift card from society6.com. It’s an online store where independent artists post their designs, and you can get those designs printed on just about anything: posters, tapestries, throw pillows, phone cases, etc. A few clicks, and your teen can have exactly the art they were always looking for, and while you might not understand whatever art they pick, you still get the cool points for making it happen.

This should probably be the part where I tell you what to get the small children in your life, but I’ve yet to meet a small child that won’t tell you exactly what they want for Christmas if you ask them. They may ask for a real violet polka-dotted unicorn they can ride, but at least you won’t be mystified about what they want. Instead, I’m going to skip to the thing that can put a halt to your gift-giving roll: the stocking stuffer. Even I find it hard to stuff a stocking some years, especially as the teens and adults in my life stop wanting easy stuff like candy, chocolates, and more candy. So I’ve had to get creative to figure out just what kind of small gifts they’d like from Santa Ceason. Such as:

Phone chargers. It feels so every day, but that’s what I think stocking stuffers for the over-12 set should be: everyday items a person uses but never has enough of, and no one ever has enough phone chargers. I like to get two kinds: ones with really long cords for the house and a short cord for the car. They aren’t expensive, they fit perfectly in a stocking, and just try and find a gift that’ll get more use in this day and age.

I also like car wash coupons from their favorite car wash (Terri is a Waybright’s girl — they rinse out the insides of her doors and she loves that). Especially as we enter road salt season, a car wash is just the thing for people that like a shiny car, even when they know their road is one mud puddle after another. And if you know someone that loves personalizing their cars as much as they do washing them, I also really like those ceramic coasters you put in cupholders (mine’s a really cute Simply Southern West Virginia design from Faithful and Free) or a fun regional sticker for their car window (I like the ones from lovingwv.com).

And my final stocking gift suggestion is going to sound really weird, but I swear you’ll give it to someone and they’ll use it and wonder how they ever lived without it: double shower curtain hooks. They are exactly what they sound like: metal shower curtain hooks, but they have hooks on both sides. Game-changing, I tell you. Absolutely perfect for people that hang a bunch of things in their shower (loofahs, back scrubbers, etc), and who hate how annoying it is to change out a dirty shower liner. For $10, you’ve not only given someone a bunch of shower storage hooks they didn’t have, you’ve made changing their shower liner so easy, they have no reason not to do it anymore (and if you haven’t changed your liner this year, make that your 2022 New Year’s resolution).

So there you go: my gift to all y’all that hate the gift-giving part of the Christmas season, a list of present ideas you can personalize with minimal effort, that will still look like you really thought it out. And yes, it is absolutely the thought that counts when it comes to gifts, but with a little direction, even the worst gift-giver can get someone they care about a gift they’ll never stop thinking about. Let this be your year!