Consumable GiftsI'm not sure when it happened. But one day a few years ago I really stopped needing presents. For Christmas I would always ask for “peace and harmony” — and it drove the kids to distraction. But that's really what I wanted.

They preferred to give me something a little easier, like a spatula.

Over the years, I've started to understand my parents better. The older they got, the harder they were to buy for. They wouldn't give me any gift ideas and I couldn't see an obvious need. They'd go so far as to say, “Oh, I don't really need anything.” And I fumed and stewed about how to fulfill my holiday obligations to the non-needy.

When you've got most of the necessities covered, more stuff just tends to be, well, more stuff. More stuff to manage, more stuff to dust, more stuff to store and work around and keep the kids from breaking.

When I hit that “don't need much of anything” stage myself, for the first time I started really enjoying consumable gifts. Whereas in my college days I needed so many things I thought buying something that would be used up in a week was completely wasteful and frivolous, now I'm thrilled to get gifts of things to do or enjoy, like these:

Just yesterday Monica and I stopped by at See's Candies to redeem a gift certificate for a pound of chocolate. It's now wrapped (also free!) and under the tree so I can spread the joy (and calories) around to the entire family. Yum.

If you have someone on your gift list this Christmas who really “has everything,” consider giving a consumable gift with something they can do or enjoy, instead of another thing they don't really need.

If you want to really impress me, give me an hour-long foot rub and a mug of hot cocoa. I'll follow you anywhere.