My friends often ask me what they should get their loved ones as a gift. Since I don't have a lot of spending money, I'm forced to come up with creative gifts, which – given the extra thought that they require – tend to be more appreciated than generic presents.
I wasn't that surprised, then, when I got a call from my friend Zach, asking for help coming up with a Christmas gift for his parents. Zach and his siblings always go in on a gift for their parents themselves, but after more than 20 years of doing this, they were running out of ideas.
First I asked Zach what he and his siblings had purchased for their parents in the past, and he told me that they tend to get something that's nice, that they might not buy for themselves. Last year, Zach and his siblings bought them a weekend away, and the year before, they had family portraits taken.
I suggested that this year, Zach and his family could go in a different direction. Rather than getting his parents something that they would like, they could give them something that everyone in the family could make use of.
I remembered from the last time I was at Zach's parents' house that it has a screened-in porch. I suggested that he and his siblings could go in on a nice electric heater for this indoor-outdoor space.
This would make the porch usable for the entirety of the year, but it's not the kind of appliance that his parents would find insulting. Zach loved the suggestion, and he ordered an electric heater for his parents. I can't wait to find out how much they love their Christmas present this year.