Now that we are smack dab in the middle of the holidays, you may be trying to think of some gift ideas that will please your family but won’t get dusty and take up space. My grown children have all the toys they need, and usually buy what they want. Many people my age are reaching a time of fixed income and want to be more prudent with their spending. Here are some ideas of things to do for your family that will make them grateful without breaking the bank or filling closets.
Clear out the Clutter
When I visit my clients, I frequently see the results of collecting gone wild, and I hate to think of my children having to deal with my closets when I am gone. My New Years Resolution a few years ago was to throw something away every day. I have adopted a practice of opening some drawer or door once a day to find one thing I can put out in the trash or in my donation box. Some days it is only a few old rubber bands, and some Saturdays I spend an hour catching up and cleaning out. By now, this has become a way of life and an ongoing pass-time. Do this for a year and I promise your children will be grateful.
These don’t even have to be on paper! When my grandchildren were in their preschool years, I used to plan outings for them that did not involve their parents. We would go to a museum with a camera to capture what we liked, go to a concert in a local park. collect nuts from a pecan tree on campus, or just watch a movie with popcorn and cocoa. This is especially valuable in December when parents of young children are increasingly frantic with work and time-off from school. If you have the gift of time and can commit to a regular weekly appointment with the grands, their parents can look forward to a regular respite. Two generations will treasure this time now and later.
Bring dinner over to enjoy with your children and grandchildren. It does not have to be fancy; in fact, simpler is better. It just needs to be there on a busy day, when everyone is tired and running in different directions. Better yet, make something that your children loved when they were little, so that you can share stories about those happy memories.
Take up a Hobby
Find something in the community you can do once a month, once a week, or more often. I can guarantee that you children would much rather hear about what you did or where you went than all about your latest pain! The more involved in the world you are, the more fun you are to be around. This is a win-win for both your children and you!
Organize your Estate
Make time to think about what is in your estate and where it is located. Dedicate a certain drawer to putting things in. You should put in any legal papers, birth and marriage certificates, titles, and the year end statements from your accounts. Whenever you find something important in your hand – put it in this drawer. After a while you will find that you have most of your important papers gathered in one place. If you get ambitious, make a list, on paper or the computer, of what you think you have. You will probably know if something is missing from your drawer and you can write a note about it. This makes things much simpler for your family if you get sick suddenly.
Once you have everything organized you can start thinking about how all your things are going to get where or to whom you want them to go. Some assets go to your heirs as a result of how you own them (joint with right of survivorship, beneficiary designation, and “pay-on-death” are some examples). Some assets will need to pass through your will to make sure they get where you want them to go. It is important to consult with a lawyer to make sure everything will pass as you want.
These are some good, easy ways to make things simple for your family. Your children will appreciate these gifts much more than something taking up space and collecting dust in a closet or attic.