That Perfect Gift

At the risk of waxing nostalgic, this season always reminds me of my childhood.  Maybe because I’ve never outgrown my enthusiasm for the season.  The brightly colored packages, the element of surprise, the sparkly tree, the holiday music and the family gatherings.  All figure strongly in my memories.  Perhaps that’s why I always tried to make the holiday special for my own children.

And yes, ‘special’ is often synonymous with getting that one perfect gift–the one that’s going to make someone’s eyes light up in delight and surprise.  It’s not enough to buy them what they want and ask for–it’s about finding that one thing they *didn’t* ask for but will be absolutely perfect for them.  I find that I can’t get enthused about the present unwrapping unless I have something for each of my kids that I’m thoroughly excited to give them.

I realize that I’m setting myself up.  I mean, how often can we get that one special gift for every member of our family?  But every year I still try because that’s part of the joy I get from the season 🙂  ‘Perfect’ gifts I recall getting as a child were a large stuffed bear that I hadn’t asked for but played with for years; a complete set of Louisa May Alcott’s works in hardcover; and hot rollers.  Trust me, they were new and quite the item <g>, although alas, they had little impact on my long straight hair.

A couple years ago we happened upon those ‘perfect’ gifts for my oldest grandsons, two and three at the time.  They were vintage pedal cars in bright yellow and red.  I’ll never forget the look on my oldest grandson’s face when he walked into the room and saw them.  That expression–the shock, the wonder and sheer joy is what keeps me searching year after year for that perfect gift–just to experience it all over again.

What about you?  What are the perfect gifts from your past?  Do you have any gifts you are particularly excited to give this year?  I have a $15 gift certificate for one lucky commenter today!  Remember, the giveaway lasts until the new year!

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55 Responses to That Perfect Gift

  1. Terri says:

    Some of the perfect gifts from my past was giving a PS2 to my Dad, a PS3 to my brother and a laptop for my mom.

    This year the perfect gifts are a wireless keyboard/mouse for my mom and Heavy Rain for my brother. Still trying to figure out what to give my dad.

    • Kylie Brant says:

      Terri, I know, dad’s are tough! We all went together and got ours a recumbent elliptical that’s supposed to be good for joint patients. Now we’re hoping he can get in and out of it!

  2. Emmanuelle says:

    Wow my sons would have looooooved vintage pedal cars !! Now about presents I remember a particular occasion where my oldest son (10 yo) literally had stars in his eyes.
    It didn’t cost us much but DH and I decided to surprise him with a special night out. We left his baby brother at my parent’s and told Nathan (that’s my oldest’s name) we were taking him to an educative movie screening. He wasn’t particularly thrilled and that’s an understatement.
    I remember his eyes when we entered the movie theatre and he saw the Transormers II pictures on the walls… he got it then and his eyes were shining brighter than I had ever seen (yes, even britghter than when he recieved his PS3 !!). It was just the 3 of us, no baby brother, watching what must be is favorite movie… best gift he ever received (from what I can tell).

  3. Cynthia N says:

    I received the perfect gifts from my daughter this year: Twin grandsons on December 4 (they were three weeks early)! I couldn’t have asked for more! Four years ago, she presented me with my first Grandson on December 23. This year I am giving her my gift: TIME! All is well in our households.

  4. Kylie Brant says:

    Cynthia, how lucky are you!! My twins were born on Dec. 23 and my mom always said it was the best Christmas present she ever received. Enjoy those grandsons 🙂 I have three myself and they are a riot. Every summer we have ‘cousins camp’ where they all visit gamma and grandpa for a week. It’s a blast!

  5. kris says:

    This year is uncharacteristically low key. My 8 yr old didn’t have anything big on her list, so it’s all small stuff. Neither me or my husband really wanted/needed anything.

  6. Minna says:

    I’ve given everyone chocolate. You can’t go wrong with that!

  7. Keri Ford says:

    The perfect gift that’s being given this year is one of those moonwalk, bouncer things. Son has been asking for one everyday for a couple months now. Can’t wait for Christmas morning for him to see what Santa brought him!

  8. pearl says:

    A perfect gift that I gave to my son was a sculpture made by his grandfather. Perfect for him, his home and forever.

  9. lois greiman says:

    Speaking of a simpler time…I’m making my own toothpaste and lip balm for my loved ones this Christmas. Got glycerine and beeswax through the mail…so yes, the powers that be may decide I’m trying to build a bomb, but it should be an interesting experiment.

    • Kylie Brant says:

      Lois, you are so crafty 🙂 I’m always amazed by your creative ideas. I have no talents, that’s why I have to go commercial! My daughter does great things like that. Once she made us a scrapbook of Iowa game memories and filled it with pics. She and my third son are good artists and I keep hinting that I’d dearly love something they drew for me. So far it hasn’t worked but I’ll keep hinting…!

  10. CrystalGB says:

    Those photos bring back such wonderful memories. My favorite gift when I was a child was a shiny blue pedal car I got when I was 5. I loved that car.
    I am thrilled that I was able to find a LaLaLoopsy doll for my neice before they became so expensive.

  11. Kirsten says:

    The best present from my past was a red plastic sleigh. When I got it there was no snow and I hated it. But the next winter it was snowing non stop and I was on it 24/7.
    Well maybe not all the time but I loved (and used) it so much my dad asked me if that thing was glued to my bottom 🙂

    • kylie brant says:

      Think how smug your dad must have felt that he and your mom had found a gift you enjoyed so much! Our ‘fun’ gifts this year are metal Iowa Hawkeye signs for the family with our last name on the top. I think my husband was more excited than the kids will be!

  12. Stephenia says:

    It is fun finding the perfect gift for someone. I love doing it, but don’t agonize over it – sometimes the stars are just all lined up right one year and not the next, LOL. Some perfect past gifts – Just the right leggo car thing for my 8 year old nephew last year…he immediately took if from the box and started working on it. Hello Kitty fluffy dress-up looking skirt/tutu thingy for my 4 year old niece – yep, she put it on over her clothes and wore it all day! Just what I’d want if I was four too! Happy holidays!

    • kylie brant says:

      Stephenia, you are absolutely right–some times it just isn’t *that* year and the perfect gift doesn’t reach out and grab us. That’s why when it does I nab it…even if I have to bend the budget a bit to do so, LOL!

  13. cindy gerard says:

    You amaze me with your inventive gift ideas, Kylie! And it’s not like you just have one or two to buy for. 5 kids and now dt-in-laws and grandkids?? and the biggest kid of all – John LOL..

    Sometimes i hit it out of the park – sometimes it’s just okay. This year (we had our Christmas with our kids this past weekend) my Dt-in-law and Son were there power hitters. They put together a photo book on Snapfish of our week at our cabin filled with photos of the kids. It’s like an actual kids story book you could buy at B&N or Borders. The cover is glossy and with a regular book binding, the photo colors and clarity are AMAZING and the kids wrote the captions for each photo. We laughed until we cried reading some of them. It was the PERFECT gift – one we’ll treasure forever!

  14. runner10 says:

    I’m big on giving gift cards. I know that isn’t very exciting, but everyone can buy what they like.

  15. Jennifer D. says:


    I love seeing the tree with gifts under it. I don’t have any kids, so I can’t use that as an excuse for my childlike glee. Anyway, I agree that its fun to find that gift that suits a person so well, but they didn’t ask for. Unfortunately, I totally struck out this year – mostly everyone is getting something they wanted. I didn’t really see too many unique items in my neck of the woods this year. I remember a couple of really awesome gifts growing up that were a surprise – the Barbie Town House & the Snow Nut tube for sledging. Still remember how excited I was. Have a Very Merry Christmas.

    • Kylie Brant says:

      Jennifer D, I also recall some favorite Barbie gifts 🙂 There was a lady in town who made Barbie furniture and my sister and I each got two rooms. I still have mine in the attic. My daughter, alas, wasn’t in to dolls but I’ve got two granddaughters coming so maybe some day…!

  16. Linda Henderson says:

    This year I’m giving my youngest grandson a Thomas The Train set, although I think his older brother will play with it just as much. I also got my 5 year old shoe-aholic granddaughter a pair of pink cowboy boots, she will love them.

  17. When I was 9, my uncle gave me a Brownie Hawkeye camera. It was my first “grown-up” Christmas present, and I loved it. We were living on Guam at the time, and I still have many of the pictures I took. Black and white only. Mind you, I still loved toys–the Little Miss Revlon doll came two years later, she she was perfect, too. A few years ago I bought the identical model camera on E-bay, complete with flash attachment, and several Little Miss Revlons.

  18. leannebanks says:

    Several years ago, I found a great deal on laptops and surprised my kids and husband with a new laptop for Christmas. They were thrilled!:) This may sound crazy, but one of my fave gifts from the last few years was SHARP kitchen knives. Makes such a difference with meal prep!

    • kylie brant says:

      Leanne, I have to admit to a bit of envy when I went to the showers for my daughter-in-laws. I’ve long advocated a shower every ten years for married folk! So that’s what I ask for for Christmas from the kids…new kitchen stuff 🙂 One year I asked for knives (you’re right, they’re heaven!) I got a new electric skillet since my harvest gold one showed no signs of dying quietly with dignity and this year it’s a hotpad Christmas 🙂 Bet your family did love those laptops!

  19. LSUReader says:

    One year when the kids were young, I gave Hubby the gift of a weekend together out of town. I made arrangements for babysitting, a swanky hotel, dinner out and tickets to a musuem event he wanted to attend. He loved it. Thanks for a fun column. Merry Christmas.

  20. Lois M. says:

    Well, a couple of years into college, for either my birthday or Christmas, given they are both in the same week (like tomorrow!), I got the first of a collection that started then… see, since he loves his rubber duckie, and I love Ernie (from Sesame Street), I got Ernie’s Rubber Duckie! 🙂 And have gotten a few others since then too, although, only this year did I finally get an Astronaut Rubber Duckie. 🙂 So, yep, me, soon to be 34, has a rubber duckie collection. 🙂


    • Kylie Brant says:

      Lois, too cool 🙂 What a fun collection! I tease the kids about who will get my snowman and Santa Claus collections. No one wants them but my daughter did call dibs on the Christmas village 🙂

  21. debradixon says:

    I’m giving my sister an electric cigarette kit. Odorless, no additive, looks like a cig, but only delivers nicotine which you can “step down” over time (if you want).

    She has a new house and she’s going outside to smoke which is great for the two boys she’s raising, but I want her to keep to her resolution and this will make it easier when it’s 20 degrees outside. You know the first time she stands “in the door” and puffs that’s going to be the beginning of the end.

    Plus if this really works for all her smoking then the cartridges are much cheaper than real cigarettes. So, it’s a money savings long term!

  22. infinitieh says:

    Years ago, I gave a good friend a model of a red Jaguar convertible. He loved it and told me that he had received compliments on it. I was glad for him, but kind of sad for me because I originally bought it for myself (had to come up with something for him so I gave the car to him). And, of course, I never found that model car again.

    Otherwise, I try for good presents instead of perfect because I don’t get ideas for the perfect present very often. The other present I gave that made the recipients happy was batteries (just batteries, no toy) as everyone needs batteries for their other presents.

  23. Linda says:


    It’s so nice to hear there are people out there with the same birthday as me. December 23rd!!!. We have horses and the first year my husband started doing carriage driving with our then 15 year old Arab, we used a lot of borrow equipment. I surprised him with a beautiful carriage driving whip. Of course our oldest son thought it was such a hoot!!! My husband really got strange looks at work when they asked what his wife gave him for Christmas. That year he also surprized me with diamond earings for my birthday when I thought he had forgotten

    Have a wonderful holiday


  24. chey says:

    Some perfect gifts from the past were giving my Dad a leather jacket and a purse for my Mom.

    • Kylie Brant says:

      Chey, that reminds me of the time we bought my dad a leather bomber style jacket. He was a pilot in WWII and he couldn’t get over how much it looked like his old jacket. He didn’t realize they were in style, LOL!

  25. catslady says:

    This has been a slow year for me to get started and partly because I too want to buy at least one perfect gift and preferably a surprise. I did get my one daughter (art marjor) something called the tablet so she can draw on her computer but she knows about it. My other daughter got her largeSt gift alreadY (tickets to a broadway show) and I’m pretty much stumped for everyone else. AND IT’S ALMOST HERE!!!

    My best gift as a child was getting a cat for Christmas – a grown wild barn cat but I was thrilled to death!!! Giving my husband season tickets to the Pittsburgh, Steelers was the best I’ve given I think. And after 25 yrs. of marriage I lost my diamond in my wedding ring while raking leaves and he got me a new ring for Christmas 🙂

  26. Jane says:

    I never got the Easy Bake Oven I always wanted, but my brother did buy me a Pound Puppy stuffed animal which I loved. I’m always happy to see a cashmere sweater or pajamas under the tree.

  27. Kylie Brant says:

    I never got one either, Jane!!! Also I wanted the creepy crawlie fright factory. Hmm. Thinking of things I never did get now… 🙂 Pound puppy, yes we had a zillion of them around here at one time!

  28. Quilt Lady says:

    I don’t think I have any perfect gifts this year, although I did order my sister a book she had been looking for and hadn’t been able to find it. When you mentiong the pedal car I thought of the year my son was three and my sister and father went in together and bought him a John Deer pedal tractor and wagon. He road it all over the yard but it was so heavy he had a hard time with it. Then when my great nephew came along we passed it down to him and I think he road the wheels off of it. I think they still have it but its in rough shape.

  29. Kylie Brant says:

    Quilt Lady, we had two pedal tractors for each of our two oldest sons. As you said, they are in rough shape when kids get done with them! We had two sons of friends who wanted to redo them for 4-H projects and now they look like new!

  30. Edith says:

    When I was little, my parents made a bed to hold my 3 favorite dolls. We were very poor and it was truly a labor of love. My dad shaped the rectangular frame from wire and my mother made a cover for the frame, a matching blanket and a matching mattress. It was completely unexpected and I was delighted.

    Perfect gifts I’ve given are Underoos for my nephews (must be 35 years ago). They loved playing superhero and I got them Superman, Batman, and Green Lantern underoos. When they were older, I custom made a chemistry set (I’m a chemist) for them with all kinds of cool stuff that would burn and explode. I checked with their parents first, of course, and they made sure they supervised the burning of the volcano, etc.

  31. Edith says:

    I forgot another Perfect Gift I received: A copy of the magazine with Terry Pratchett’s first published short story, SIGNED!! He signed it before he got really really famous, so there are distinguishable letters in the signature. I had no idea my friend had it or that she’d part with such a treasure!

  32. RobynL says:

    one year I got this black patent leather purse that had a silver handle and the top would fold down like on an envelope; upon opening there was a zipper to undo. I loved that purse and was presented with it by Mom just before we left for the church Christmas concert. I loved it.


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