Women do not want gifts of "tchotchke"

Many of you will be purchasing holiday gifts over the next few weeks. Today, I offer a gift guide for people who have older adults on their giving list, as well as a few ideas if you are, in fact, an aging person and you are gifting others — including grandchildren.

I have consulted the Lippe Taylor/She Speaks (www.lippetaylor.com) women's buying behavior index, so I am definitely in the know on this topic. At least when it comes to gifts for females. The 2,000-person survey of women occurs annually and is slowly gaining traction. This year the index/survey found women do not want to be gifted with "tchotchke," which is my synonym for slightly gaudy knickknacks. What they do want: clothing, gift cards and personal technology. And here's something interesting — 33 percent of all women surveyed want "a new handbag."

Some of the worst-ever-given gifts, as identified by that particular survey, are "doorknobs." That would never have occurred to me as a holiday gift but, when I think about it, those age-friendly, levered door handles seem perfect for elders with arthritic hands — I may ignore that finding altogether.

The survey also found that a really bad gift is "expired food." We sent boxed fruit to all our out-of-state family members last year, and only one brave soul told us about the over-ripeness-upon-arrival issue. Gift boxes of foods and fruits are easy to give, nice to receive, as well as functional and festive, so don't let our experience deter you if that's your intention.

I'm told the absolute food-as-a-gift rage, in urban environments especially, is extra virgin olive oil, cold pressed — sometimes with varietal vinegars as a companion. If it's a doorstep delivery, you could even add a bag of mixed greens and colorful peppers to encourage more salad eating in the new year. Or even better, you could make your own flavored vinegar. Our local Extension office can tell you how to do that.

The best Christmas gift I've ever received was from my husband the year before we were married. Seven gifts actually. Each gift was chosen to focus on and reflect something he loved about me. I will not go into too much detail, but lingerie was involved. There was also a book of poetry with one particular poem highlighted.

It's a "gift" to recall that decades-old moment of receiving something so special and recognizing the planning and consideration that went into the giver's decisions. Maybe the perfect gift is the sweet memory of getting one.

And perhaps that's the tender reminder — gifting should be more than a hold-in-your-hand present. It should create, for giver and receiver, a hold-in-your-heart memory.

In that spirit, I have an idea — sharing it in case you want to replicate. This year, our children and their families are getting "Pancake Pens" (www.tovolo.com/countertop/pancake-pen) and a recipe for my long deceased mother's beloved-by-all buttermilk pancake recipe. I can almost see mom looking down from heaven and smiling — wondering whether they'll remember to warm the syrup.

Sharon Johnson is a retired Oregon State University associate professor emeritus. Reach her at Sharon@hmj.com.


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