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Unique Gifts for the Holidays - Part One
Photo courtesy:

By Joshua Pilkington

Part I of IV

It can be difficult to find the perfect gift for someone, especially when that someone has already purchased what they really want for themselves. In a holiday geared toward gift-giving and receiving, in more cases than not the giver and the receiver are the same person. According to the National Retail Federation, 51 percent of Americans will spend more on gifts for themselves during the holiday season than for other people.

And the amount we are spending continues to rise as well. According to a Gallup study, American adults are projected to spend $920 on gifts per person, up from $885 in 2018, and for the second-consecutive year it is expected holiday spending will surpass $1 trillion nationwide.

So instead of buying another of the latest and greatest thing that will hold the recipient’s attention for all but two days, La Vida Latina offers another edition of Unique Gifts for the Holidays.

This week’s unique gift: financial assistance.

Everyone has to pay bills and an extraordinary few find joy in it. There are some bills like utilities, internet, water, electricity, that almost everyone has to pay. And while paying those off for a friend or loved one for the holidays is a great gift, it doesn’t carry the weight of the unexpected bills.

Cover a person or family’s prescription medication

Anyone dealing with chronic pain or illness knows how costly it can be to purchase those prescription drugs. In fact, prescriptions have become such a significant expenditure in the U.S. that they make up 1.8 percent of the country’s GDP and 10 percent of total health expenditures, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

That expenditure only becomes more taxing for the elderly - who purchase on average 4-5 prescriptions monthly - and for those suffering from chronic illness.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, one in four people taking prescription drugs report difficulty affording their medication. Some of that can be explained by the soaring cost of prescriptions in 2014 and 2105 when the retail price for brand name drugs widely used by older Americans jumped by an average of 15.5 percent.

“I’m always wondering what to get my parents because they never ask for anything and usually get their own gadgets and stuff,” said Marianna King, 27, Aurora. “I think offering to cover my dad’s medication would kind of be a cool thing to do and something kind of unexpected that he would appreciate.”

Offer to take on that utility bill

Numbeo, the website that collects survey data about cost of living expenses in various cities, released recently that the average utility bill in Denver (including electric, heat and water) is about $127. Throw the average internet cost of $56 into the mix and that is nearly $200 on basic utilities Denver residents are paying monthly.

“That doesn’t even take into account how much more rent is here,” said Arturo Jimenez, 33, Denver. “We’re already paying a higher rental rate to live in the city and you throw that into the mix, it can get ugly fast.”

Jimenez said he wasn’t sold on the idea of unique gifts, but would not mind someone covering his bills for him.

“I think some people might see it as a cop out,” he said. “Like giving cash. But it’s really thoughtful when you think about it, especially someone going through unemployment or divorce…something like that might really help them out.”

Pay child care costs for a month

Jimenez’s spouse, Edit, said she was considering another unique gift for a friend, covering the cost of her child care payment.

With Colorado ranking among the most expensive states in the nation for child care, covering what is, on average, a $1,000 tab monthly.

“She has to work two jobs and gets some benefits for [child care], but it is still a difficult thing for her to manage,” she said.

Unique Gifts for the Holiday will return next week with part two: groceries.





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