TIME TOGETHER: Give your loved ones the precious gift of time this Christmas.
TIME TOGETHER: Give your loved ones the precious gift of time this Christmas. Jupiterimages

No present like the time

WHAT sort of gifts are you giving this Christmas?

Do they come in shiny boxes, do they need batteries or have you spent way more than you intended to?

With two new grandbabies to shop for this year I'm not going to judge you if you've been shopping up a storm. I've put in quite a few hours at the shops already and I've still got a few people left to buy for.

Most of us say Christmas is about family yet as the stress builds in the lead-up to December 25 it feels it's nothing more than a test of your patience and your budget.

If that's you, take a deep breath and focus on the real reason we are spending hours shopping for gifts.

It's important to remember that a gift is a symbol of our love and admiration for someone, not the size of our bank accounts or credit card limits.

Think about the gifts you have bought or plan to buy - do they reflect your knowledge and familiarity with the recipient or are they compensation, almost an apology of some sort, for not really knowing what they are into or will appreciate?

It can be a tough question to answer honestly.

If you suspect you are using a gift as compensation then maybe you need to swap it for the most precious gift of all - time.

It's the one gift that trumps all and it's one we often spend badly.

Kids want to spend time with their parents, empty nesters want to spend time with their adult children and extended family members should have a bond that stretches beyond a shared surname or family tree.

Time is the one thing we can't buy more of but we can make an effort to make the best of the time we have.

If you are buying gifts for people and don't know what they'd like, I would suggest you are probably not spending enough time with them.

If you are buying a toy for a child but won't ever see them play with it then I would suggest you are not spending enough time with them.

If you are looking at how much something is worth rather than buying something you absolutely know the recipient will appreciate then I think there's a good chance you are not spending enough time with them.

So forget about yet another trip to the shops and think about ways to give the gift of time: arrange to visit an old friend and shout them a coffee, buy a toy and then spend time playing with the children in your life or take charge and organise a family outing where the memories will last forever.

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