Christmas time is here igniting a giving spirit amongst us all - question is, whom should we give to?

This question does not apply to the obvious - the extended family to which we give our love in the form of hugs and Christmas cards, to the siblings we wrap up our ever so thoughtful $20 gift card, and for Mom and Pop, we spring for the extra long-lasting scented candle and a fancy, engraved ball-point pen.

This question applies to that special someone, not the one that has been in your life for the past six months or more, but the one you met just before the holiday spirit kicked in - as in the last month or so.

A friend of mine met a special someone a week before Thanksgiving and now that the stuffing has simmered and the turkey leftovers have been eaten, she cannot help but wonder if he is going to, or better yet, if he should get her a Christmas present.

And if so, should she get him one, too?

She is not expecting a gift, and the lack of receiving one will not change how she feels about him (she thinks). But because the giving of gifts at Christmas holds such a special status in our hearts (she wonders), if he doesn't give a gift does that mean he plans on switching off the romance carols as soon as the new year begins?

Fact of the matter is, now is the time to stop thinking so much about "if" it's appropriate and use all that energy to get someone you care about a thoughtful gift, regardless of how long you have cared about them.

Giving gifts at Christmas time should not have a hidden agenda - pearl earrings should not mean you are the new love of his life, a pair of cozy slippers should not mean he is ready to move in with you and a Christmas card should not mean he is not trying hard enough.

True as it has always been, it is the thought that counts.

Thoughtful gifts are not as easy as heading to the nearest department store and buying a jazzy bracelet, but in taking the time to make a gift more personal, you will find the spirit of giving to be much more rewarding.

Having trouble coming up with a thoughtful gift? Here are some tips:

Think of an inside joke that only the two of you could understand.

For example, say you met at a bar when you realized you did not have enough money to pay for the Terrapin Rye on draft that you ordered so he bought it for you. The gift: a 6-pack of Terrapin Rye and an "IOU a tour" at the Terrapin Brewery.

Channel your special someone's personal passion or interest, then get creative with it.

Say your lady loves to paint and travel just for fun. The gift: a paintbrush, a canvas, some watercolors and a card that asks her to paint her favorite place in the whole world (talk about major brownie points).

Be crafty. Girls and guys alike love a gift with a little artistic touch, even if you are not artistic because, remember, it is the thought that counts. Say your special someone is going on a Christmas family vacation to Alaska and he or she has never been. The gift: make them a personal map of fun things to see and places to go, loaded with fun facts and pictures - it will be a great read on the airplane and a great way to keep them thinking about you.

The ultimate gift is the thoughtful gift.

The thought means that she was thinking about you. The thought means he wanted to make you smile. The thought means your special someone didn't want to pass up an occasion to give you something, anything that could express the feelings he or she may have for you.

And you should want to do the same, even if you are unsure of the return - the gift is in the giving, not in the exchange.

- Kori Price is a senior from Glenns Ferry, Idaho majoring in newspapers.

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