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Tips for gifting well

I’m looking for a holiday gift to give a friend who is a three-books-a-week reader and a healthy aging advocate. She is also my sister. She celebrates Hanukkah not Christmas, and does not embrace the concept of wrapped presents.

Carol is challenging to buy for in any time of year, but I am a dedicated “gifter” and I keep trying. I have been told the key to “gifting well” involves thoughtfully observing the person’s lifestyle and his/her personal preferences and adding a splash of creative energy. The important element is, apparently: Do a lot of active listening when you are in conversations with the individual you intend to gift.

So, here’s the plan. My sister is a 70-year-old retired epidemiologist who stopped drinking alcohol and coffee years ago and switched to herbal tea. My plan is to gift her with a tall, uniquely etched, infuser teacup and a box of Twining’s Tea bags — with honey sticks, of course.

I will arrange to send it directly from Amazon without wrapping. She can be picky about her tea selections, I have observed, so I may opt to include the book “Healing Herbal Teas: Learn to Blend 101 Specially Formulated Teas for Stress Management, Common Ailments, Seasonal Healing and Immune Support.” That should speak to the scientist in her. Decision made. Purchase initiated. Check.

On to the next challenge. My younger brother. He is also a multiple-books-at-a-time reader, and himself an author/sometimes-poet. He’s also a retired lawyer, living remotely on a ranch abutting the Columbia River with his two large German shepherd dogs — one of whom he named Trouble. She is.

Robert will be gifted a 25-count bag of lamb’s ears for the dogs and one of my most favored books, published in the past year, “Poetry Rx: How 50 Inspiring Poems Can Heal and Bring Joy to your Life” by Dr. Norman Rosenthal. I might try to obtain a copy signed by the author. That kind of book deserves a wooden bookmark, so I will include that. He is easier to buy for and will be pleased — so will the dogs. Check.

Our high school-aged granddaughter, Sarah, who we learned to our surprise (we were actually aghast) at Thanksgiving (“Grandpa, I am 17 years old!”) is an avid fan of the streaming series “The Great,” a bawdy, sexualized, satirical version of royal life in the Russian Empire in the 18th century. She will definitely be given the historically factual “Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman” by Robert K. Massie. That gift may come across as a little finger-wagging you may say. I need something in addition, I think. Sarah loves elephants. Maybe that slightly shabby, but exquisite, elephant-print paper mache chest I found at Goodwill a few weeks ago. I could fill it with colorful socks — some with messages on the sole. I was told that socks are one of the best gifts you can give teens. Check.

As I review my entire gifts-to-be-given list (checking it twice), I am pleased with my decisions, even feeling a little merry about them. ‘Tis the season.

Sharon Johnson is a retired health educator. Reach her at sharjohn99@gmail.com.