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Why toilet paper was the best thing I got for Christmas this year

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The Gift of Necessity is the ultimate care packageWhen I was little, about once a month the most glorious package would arrive at our house. It was from a far-off land called Brooklyn, sent by one of the most magical women on Earth, my Grandma. The excitement was so high that we were required to wait for every member of the family to get home before digging in.

The package would contain little treats or toys for my sister and me, but to get to them we had to sift through all kinds of boring stuff intended for my parents. Toilet paper. Napkins. Paper towels. Cans of tuna fish (not kidding). My mom would be just as excited to receive the package of paper plates as we were about the M&Ms. I didn’t understand her preoccupation with those seemingly boring items at the time, maybe because it just meant more candy for me. Well, I understand it now.

Since moving into my new apartment just over a year ago, I have become very familiar with this truth: Stuff is expensive. Now I know this is neither new, nor is it news, but seriously. To be considered a real live grown-up one must keep certain things on hand, and the amount of money it takes to keep a home stocked with the necessities is dizzying. We tend to take for granted the everyday things that are always around until you head to the cabinet to restock the toilet paper and you’re down to your last roll. And I hate buying toilet paper.

This brings me to the best gift I received on Christmas morning this year: my sister channeled our Grandma Vivian and gave me a “Gift of Necessity,” a care package of epic proportions. Its contents spanned three separate packages and included the aforementioned toilet paper, paper towels, napkins, cotton balls, razors, toothpaste, mouthwash, hair pins, mascara, a nail file, a grocery tote and four mini bottles of Jim Beam (not essential, I know, but still much appreciated; like a grown-up version of the M&Ms).

She wrapped each item individually and my excitement at opening them bordered on madness. Picture something along the lines of an episode of “Oprah’s Favorite Things.” The saying goes that it’s the little things that matter most, and that definitely applies to this gift. I don’t have to worry about running out of those staple items found in every household for the next six months, and she has a blast picking out what goes into the package. It’s obvious how much thought she puts into picking out what I’ll like and use the most and that makes the gift all the more meaningful.

The care package has become our tradition now. She makes them for me at Christmas and my birthday, and they are always awesome. Parents and grandparents take note: It’s a great gift to stock the apartment of a college kid or to give at a housewarming as well.

So the next time you’re stumped trying to pick out a gift for the young adult in your life, go back to the basics. And don’t forget the toilet paper.

What do you think? Have you ever given anyone a Gift of Necessity for Christmas? Do you prefer practical gifts, or do you like something you wouldn’t necessarily buy on your own?

{ 18 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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18 Responses to “Why toilet paper was the best thing I got for Christmas this year”

  1. M says:

    I agree! Care packages like this make the BEST gifts!

  2. Shirley says:

    What a wonderful story! I have a grandson with a young family who will love this idea and I will do it.

  3. Julian says:

    Great article. Leave it to Amazon, to have automated Alana’s Grandma’s care package idea.

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/subscribe-and-save/details/

  4. Fru-gal Lisa says:

    When my grandmother was still alive and in her late 80s, she’d lost a lot of weight and it made her partial plate dentures stop fitting well. Medicare did not cover dental needs, and she did not have dental insurance. So Mom and I went together and her “Christmas gift” was a trip to our dentist — we paid for it. The dentist adjusted her dentures so they would fit. No more pain while chewing! Grandma said it was the best gift she’d ever been given because she could eat comfortably again.

  5. Katie says:

    So cute and so clever!! I love Alana’s blogs!

  6. Alana says:

    What a great gift Lisa!

  7. Stephanie says:

    It’s a wonderful Christmas present and I am so glad you told the story. We forget, like you said how important and essential these “normal” things are, plus expensive! I wish that more people would think like that instead of the latest gadget we just don’t need. It starts with the parents and makes young adults more aware.

  8. Sadie says:

    Only a Grandmother would realize the importance of such a truly thoughtful gift!

    With my Mom having a Granddaughter who moved from TN to GA to CO to OR to ME to MD to GA, she always made sure this Granddaughter always had plenty of “good cleaning rags” even when she had to mail them.

    Truly another “Gift of Necessity” upon arriving at a new rental address!

  9. Kim says:

    My daughter loved your idea. It will be one gift that I continue to do each year, adding more of your ideas each year:)

  10. Joel says:

    Toilet paper, cotton balls, tooth paste and Jim Beam. Really no reason to leave your house until you are well into January. Well done!

  11. Meagan says:

    Love this idea!

  12. Never thought of that…I will now though.

  13. fabclimber says:

    People laugh when I tell them I have a winter’s worth of paper products on hand so I can avoid trips to the store in bad weather.

    They ain’t laughing now here in Chiberia!

  14. Barb says:

    I take a roll of toilet paper from hotels. Just put two in my bag. Since I paid 2k for the room, I would rather take that than towels.

  15. KimNK says:

    It’s better to need things and not want things that you don’t need. Excellent suggestion!

  16. Anonymous says:

    Lovely story, Alana…Ari is good to you :) !

  17. Adam Parsons says:

    Nice article there! You won’t believe it, but I am a father of two, married for over twenty years and my mom still provides us with this kind of goodies every now and then since my college times. Even when it became not necessary any more, she is still very committed to helping out her son (and it doesn’t stop with the toilet paper, fortunately). Moms are awesome!

  18. Amy says:

    LOVE it! I gave my Dad a gift of necessity for his Birthday. He started riding motorcycles in his 40s and now in his semi retired state, enjoys attending rallies whenever he can. So this year I found a wonderful dop kit and filled it with all kinds of travel sized items band aids, handi wipes, q-tips, nail clippers,etc. He loved it and was happy to have a small bag that everything he needed would fit into. Packing for a trip on a motorcycle doesn’t leave much space for the non-essentials:)


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