I'd have to say that the best time to give your children Christmas presents is when they're little, as their wants are simple, the toys are easy to understand, and they're happy with almost anything as long as they can unwrap it.
At least that's how I remember it. Thinking again about a gift I could hardly wait to give, one of them for me is rather silly, I guess. It was a toy Fisher Price picnic set that was a joint present for my children when they were both preschoolers. The set had everything you need for a picnic, even a little checked plastic tablecloth. I wanted it so we could have pretend picnics on the floor in front of our fireplace that winter. And we did. Sometimes we pretended, other times we had real picnics that long winter before we moved our picnics to the big front porch.
It was fun. I wonder if they remember it like I do. I still have the picnic set, so maybe someday I'll have fireplace picnics with my grandchildren using the famous picnic set.
So, in my quest to find out if others had given a Christmas gift that excited them more than receiving the perfect gift, I checked with a few more people on the topic. Another of my co-workers quickly remembered the favorite gift she's ever given when I asked her.
"This was some years ago, when the Tai Dam were resettling in Iowa, and one of the families was in my town," she recalled.
"Our church was taking donations of gifts to make Christmas for the family, so I bought a Cabbage Patch doll, made a dress for it myself, and took the doll by their house. The mom came to the door of their house when I was at their house, and she was a little puzzled by the doll. But then the little girl came to the door, saw the doll, and her eyes just lit up as she reached for the doll. So of course, I remember giving that Christmas gift."
A friend also responded quickly when I asked her if she had a special gift she remembered giving. This gift was when she and her sister were both adults. Each had their own collections of Santas, so that Christmas my friend gave her sister a very special white porcelain Santa Claus. Her sister loved it, she told me.
"I felt like I gave her a part of myself," my friend recalled with a smile.
So, then, that must be one of the answers to the dilemma of what to give for Christmas. When you feel like you've given a part of yourself, then you have it made. That will be the gift you remember giving. And hopefully the recipient will remember it, too.