Christmas gifts don’t have to ruin your budget
“December is a long month.” Many of us in Tanzania use this phrase to describe the stressful feeling we get during the last month of the year. The thing is, during this time, we often end up spending double or even triple the amount of money we usually use. Why exactly?
Well, December is the month when most of us go on vacation abroad, visit our families kijijini*, or simply go on leave and have fun in our cities. Many companies close or slow down, and people replace productivity with merry-making. It’s also the month of a major holiday that encourages gift-giving – Christmas.
Christmas is all about family, food, and gifts
While Christmas is a Christian holiday dedicated to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, over time, it’s become increasingly secular and is celebrated by people of all faiths. Simply put, for many Tanzanians the Christmas season is all about family, food, and gifts.
Consequently, if you go back to your home village, then be sure that your grandparents and relatives will expect something. If you go on a trip abroad, then friends and loved ones left behind will also expect some gifts and souvenirs. If you stay put and don’t go anywhere, well there are always those people in our lives, whether it be our girlfriends, boyfriends, best friends, siblings, or parents who will expect a little present on Christmas day. So it’s no surprise that most of us usually break the bank in December and start the new year broke.
But gift-giving doesn’t have to be a financial burden. In fact, here are 10 great Christmas gift ideas that won’t break the bank.
1. Quality headphones:
In this day and age everyone listens to music on their mobile phones, computers, ipods, and other electronic devices. A good pair of headphones enables the user to hear the details in a song, including the individual instruments in the percussion and how the beats are layered. This may seem complicated, but what it really means is that it gives you an enhanced listening experience – something that the music lover in your life will greatly appreciate. This isn’t necessarily the flashiest gift (unless you get Beats by Dre), but it’s one a person will surely use at work, the gym, while running errands, or when just simply chilling.
2. Dinner set
Everyone needs to eat, and food looks even better when it’s served on a nice set of plates and bowls. In Tanzania, people usually get dinner sets for newlyweds, however, they also make great Christmas gifts for a friend who’s recently moved into a new apartment or your parents who need to upgrade their kitchenware.
Moreover, it’s an opportunity to show that you pay attention to your loved one’s aesthetics and home décor, by picking a dinner set that complements other elements of their home. For instance, if their house has a lot of warm colours like browns, golds, and deep oranges, then getting a set of dark orange plates will demonstrate that you know their style.
3. Cotton bedsheets
We spend 1/3 of our lives sleeping, so why not help ensure that your loved one is comfortable when they are in bed? Cotton bed sheets not only feel great but are also appropriate for Tanzania’s hot weather as they don’t absorb as much heat as synthetic sheets. This is a great and cheeky gift for that person in your life who loves their sleep; always leaves the party early to go to bed or is never available during the weekends because they are sleeping!
Once again, this is also a great opportunity to show that you pay attention to your loved one’s sense of style, as you can get them sheets in colors and patterns that match their room design.
4. Makeup kit
The easiest way to put a smile on that special woman (mum, best friend, girlfriend, sister etc) in your life’s face is to get her makeup products that will enhance her beauty. However, stick to lipsticks, blushes, and eyeshadows that she can add to her makeup collection. And, stay away from buying foundation, concealer, or powders as you may purchase the wrong colour for her skin tone. Once again, knowing what shades to pick depends on the woman’s style and will, therefore, show that you pay attention to what they like.
Who doesn’t like to smell nice? A bottle of perfume may be a costly gift, but it’s one your loved will use for months or years to come. Plus, it will guarantee that they will always remember you whenever they wear it, making it a great gift for your parents and/or significant other.
However, don’t just pick a perfume based on the brand name. Instead, read online reviews, and ask the perfume connoisseurs you know for recommendations based on the scents you think the person will like.
This is a great gift to get someone who has a sophisticated sense of fashion, as watches are an accessory that add a touch of style to any outfit, and a quality one will last your loved one for years to come. However, unless you are a style expert, play it safe and stick to neutral black or brown leather, gold, or silver designs.
7. Exercise equipment
Many people start the new year with the goal of getting into better shape and health, so why not help motivate them by buying some exercise equipment? You can get them an exercise mat, weights, jump rope, and if you have TZS shillings to spare, purchase a fitness tracker (fit bit) that shows how many calories they are losing each day, their heart rate, and more.
Nonetheless, if the person is insecure about their weight then this may not be the most sensitive gift to get them, as it may be interpreted as you telling them that they are overweight!
8. Spa day
While a spa day isn’t a gift that has long-term use, it’s great for someone who needs to take a break. Actually, this is an incredibly thoughtful gift for your mum or the mother-figure in your life who usually takes care of everyone else but themselves.
Make sure to get a package that includes massage, pedicures, and a facial, so that they not only feel relaxed but look radiant during the festive season.
9. A painting
A piece of art has the ability to instantly liven up any space and give it some personality. So getting a painting for your loved ones will be something they treasure for years to come. However, make sure you don’t simply buy some cheap or stereotypical Tanzanian art pieces like a painting of the horizon, lions, elephants, and other wildlife. Instead, take some time to find artwork created by a local artist that reflects something about the person you are giving it to (it could be some of their interests, favourite colours, places etc).
10. Professional photos
Who wouldn’t love to get their picture taken by someone who will guarantee that they’ll look good? Getting someone a professional photo shoot is not only a unique gift idea but one that will surely boost their self-esteem.
Additionally, any self-respecting Tanzanian has pictures of themselves and their family members displayed in their home. So paying for someone to have a photo shoot by a professional photographer, is a thoughtful gift for not only them but their entire family.
Why give gifts anyway?
It’s easy to get caught up in the pressure of finding the perfect Christmas gift and lose sight of why you are doing it in the first place. Don’t give people gifts because you feel like you have to, instead, do it to show appreciation for how they’ve positively impacted your life that year. Always remember that gift giving is a thoughtful way of expressing gratitude and celebrating someone you love, so, it’s better to give a meaningful and useful present, than an expensive one. Hopefully, these 10 gift ideas will help you express your love for those that you care about, while also ensuring that you have enough money to welcome the new year.
Kijijini* – Swahili word for village. Many Tanzanians return to their family’s village to visit relatives during the December holiday season