Truly Local Advice: Gifts that keep on Giving

With Christmas quickly approaching, Catherine Palmer gives her take on what Gifts will keep on giving well past the big day.


1) RESPs.

Your kids or grandkids may not appreciate a shiny new certificate for Christmas, but they will appreciate a lower debt load when they graduate from college. Consider buying a smaller gift and putting the bulk of your gift giving into an RESP contribution. The kids will have something that won’t get lost on a toy room floor and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you helped them succeed.

Back in the day, grandparents often gave gold, bonds, or silver dollars as gifts. It may seem antiquated now, but it’s a great way to help kids save and invest in their future. Today, you can invest in a GIC and choose the term for the child on your list. This gift will keep giving because it will earn interest and when the term is due, the child can reinvest the GIC and add to it with any allowance or birthday money that might come their way. You can also add to the investment each year.

2) Money.

Another great one for kids. Well, not so great for the kids that want toys, but great for teaching a bigger lesson in financial literacy. Give a kid money and help them learn to save that money for bigger items. As a bonus, they’ll likely appreciate the item more because of the effort in saving and purchasing it. If you want to give to someone over 20 or over 20km away, a prepaid credit card is a great substitute for cash.

3) Animal Shelter Donations.

Have an animal lover in your life? Donate in their name to a local animal shelter. So many pets are purchased and then surrendered over the holiday season – donating food or money to a shelter can mean a better life for an abandoned animal. Wrap up a donation in a stuffed animal. Put it with a cute kitty photo. Personalize the donation and make a trip to the shelter together to see how your dollars made a difference.

4) Local Charity Groups.

There are so many options with this one – find a cause that is close to the heart of the person you are giving to and show them some love. Give to kids in a local women’s shelter. Provide the fixings for a hot meal for a family that is new to Canada. Donate to Habitat for Humanity, Family Support Niagara, or the Out of the Cold Program. You can give the gift of your time and service with the Out of the Cold program too (over 400 volunteers run the Out of the Cold Program seven days a week between November and March). If you do buy gifts, visit the Pen Centre wrapping station where Hospice Niagara will wrap them for you and all donations will help a great local organization. By giving to local charities you have a chance to give the gifts of happiness and gratefulness to both the gift recipient and the organizations in need – double the giving and double the joy.

5) Homemade Gifts.

Make a personalized gift to brighten spirits and lighten your financial load. Pinterest and the internet are full of ideas to inspire your crafty side and help you create something more meaningful than a store bought gift. Homemade jellies and jams for those sweet and spicy people on your list. Essential oil infused bath salts for stressed out teachers. Cookie or baking mixes for your recipe-challenged friends. Holiday ornaments from the heart. Whether you make food, craft, or home décor items, homemade gifts can provide a sense of satisfaction and ease the pinch on your wallet this holiday season.

For more articles and columns about Niagara, visit our Best Of Niagara section.

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