According to the 2009 National Retail Federation survey on holiday gift shopping trends, U.S. consumers plan to spend less this year, a 3.2 percent drop from last year. Out of their total holiday budget, Americans will spend three-fourths of it on holiday gifts this year.  Spending is projected to decline slightly on holiday gifts, but candy, especially milk chocolate, may be the one bright spot this year with the average person planning to spend $10 more in that holiday gift category. In fact, candy is one of the top holiday gifts for many holidays.

The milk chocolate candy I’ve been nibbling today, reminds me of a recent dinner party we attended for a friend’s birthday. Our hostess set a lovely table including a favor for each of the guests. The favor was an attractive gift box filled with delicious milk chocolate candy. I watched the guests as they opened the boxes – pure delight lit up their faces. This gave me a great holiday gift idea. Everyone I know loves chocolate… so what a better gift is there at holiday time than a box of milk chocolates coupled with a well thought out special gift for each person on my holiday gift list. I enjoy shopping for a gift that, especially in this economy, the receiver wouldn’t indulge in for themselves…chocolates included.

Besides family and close friends, my Christmas shopping list includes the high school’s secretaries and the paras that help my students. For them, I’ll pair a box of milk chocolates with a holiday gift card for a coffee shop, a book store, or their favorite movie rental store.  All affordable on a limited Christmas budget.

For my family, the candy gift boxes will fit perfectly in their Christmas stockings which we hang on the banister every year. One of our family’s Christmas holiday traditions has always been to allow everyone to empty their Christmas stockings while they wait for us all to gather for exchanging gifts.

For my daughters, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters, I’ll give each a Christmas box of candy paired with a piece of jewelry – both Christmas gifts chosen to fit their individual personalities.  They’ll be surprised by both!

For the men in the family, I will do the same, but instead of jewelry, I’ll give them holiday gift cards to their favorite store - which might be a hardware, sports, or book store.

I hope these top holiday gifts suggestions help you get started with your holiday gift giving ideas.  If you have a favorite holiday favor or stocking stuffer you enjoy giving, please share it with us. 

Oh, and if any of my children happen to be reading this…my favorite Christmas candy is milk chocolate filled with peppermint. That would certainly be one of my top holiday gifts!!