One of the most endearing visions of Christmas Past, Present, or Future is that of children tiptoeing in to see what Santa brought and being greeted by a cuddly, ribbon-bedecked new puppy joyously waiting under the tree to meet them. Such a delightful scenario has taken on almost an iconic status but the reality is that – according to most experts and animal welfare workers – the hectic holidays may be the worst time to introduce a new pet to an already distracted and stressed (albeit joyous) household. Everybody is concentrating on tons of other things and Mom (a/k/a “The Woman of the House”) hardly has the necessary time or stamina to devote the proper attention to the poor furry little newcomer who may end up being ignored or lost in a sea of wrapping paper and hilarity.
Still, you may have your heart set on including a new pet in the holidays and perhaps your children are hoping for such a gift. What to do? That’s easy ….
Enter, the Christmas Promise Gift.
How does it work? I repeat, THAT’S EASY – you drop a few pet toys in a gift bag along with a (preferably handwritten) note promising the recipient the gift of the new puppy or kitten they have been hoping for. Include an approximate target date for this all to take place so your recipient will know you are serious. Meanwhile everybody has a chance to enjoy their other gifts and to bask in the anticipation of the prospective new clan member. Later on — after holiday decorations have been packed away, everything is back to normal, and everyone is rested and yearning for a little new excitement – then the new pet can make its debut. (Perhaps the whole family can join in selecting the pet, the adoption process and bringing it home.)
Christmas Promise Gifts can be a great idea.
Christmas (or Hanukkah?) Promise Gifts are important because they serve the dual purpose of postponing time, effort and expense on the part of the giver along with prolonged anticipation and pleasure for the gift recipient. They are a way to share some event or treat that perhaps won’t happen until later in the year, (i.e. Don’t look now, but you will be my guest at the Kentucky Derby!). Here is a list of other great Holiday Promise Gifts:
For the Racing Enthusiast:
A gift bag containing a couple die model toy cars with a note promising a ticket and transportation to either a Nascar race or the Indy 500.
For the Sports Enthusiast of any Ilk:
A miniature sports memento of some kind along with a promise of an evening at a game.
For the Lady Who Stuffed the Turkey:
A gift bag containing a fancy cosmetic and a promise of a luxury visit to a spa.
A gift bag containing a bottle of cologne and a promise to take care of the kids and the home front while she enjoys a “Girls’ Weekend Out” with chums at a hotel. (A “Girl’s Night Out” would work too!)
For Kids Who Have Desperately Done Their Best to be Good:
An 18″ inch doll’s “traveling outfit” and suitcase in a gift bag, along with the promise of a visit to an American Girl’s Place.
A bright blue gift bag containing a baseball and a promise to buddy-up with Dad or Mom for a ball game later on when the weather is better.
For That Significant Other:
A black gift bag containing a red rose and a promise of a shared trip to either a favorite location or somewhere you have both always wanted to visit – or perhaps just a nice dinner-and-a-show evening out.
A gift bag containing opera glasses and a promise of a visit to a performance of the ballet, an opera or a Broadway-type show.
For the Whole Family:
A gift bag containing suntan lotion, a disposable camera, and a promise of a visit to a major amusement park.
The Possibilities are Endless.
There are all sorts of lovely things to promise and future joy to share and you can probably think of a plethora of other possibilities.
Now, a Warning.
We would miss our festive holiday season but it is also demanding and and expensive so the temptation might be there to just use a Promise Gift to “take the easy way out.” This would be a major mistake. Christmas – or any kind of Promise Gift – should be taken seriously and honored if at all possible. Don’t pledge more than you can afford. It is better to set your sites on a visit to Six Flags and upgrade later to Disney World than vice versa.
When the time does come, make sure you mention that this was your “Christmas Promise” so that everyone will understand that the promise has been fulfilled. The people you love will be overjoyed by your Promise Gifts and will be counting on you to come through for them. If that may not always be possible, they will probably understand and forgive but too many disappointments each year may take the excitement out of future promises to come.