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by Abigail Van Buren

Stocking Up on Staples Makes Family Happy for the Holidays

DEAR ABBY: With the holiday shopping season already here, may I suggest another way to look at gift giving? We all want to give the perfect gift to family members. Some gifts can cost a lot of money and some not. I would like people to take a step back and consider who they are buying for.

I stopped buying gifts for my parents and sister 10 years ago. Because their money is tight, I have been stocking their pantries with food and staples. I am well off enough financially that I have been able to fill their freezers with enough meat to last three months or more.

At Thanksgiving, my husband and I load up our car and bring the meat with us. Then my mom, sister, grandma and I go to the grocery store and buy staples for the pantry and what we need to make freezer meals. Abby, this takes so much pressure off them.

Food is expensive. So instead of buying Dad that new TV or sound system, or your sister that designer handbag, pause and take a hard look at their situation. Sometimes the need for basics outweighs the desire for the latest and greatest gadgets. Even paying a bill or two can help. Or gift cards for groceries.

I never expect presents from my family; all I want is for them to have some freedom in their lives from the daily worries. -- NEW WAY OF GIFTING

DEAR NEW WAY: I'm pleased to share your letter with readers who may be wondering what to give their relatives at Christmas. And I'm sure that your generosity is deeply appreciated by your family. Thank you for writing.

Read more in: Holidays & Celebrations | Etiquette & Ethics | Family & Parenting