I bought them as gifts too. I copped out and gave gift cards as presents for Christmas. Not a lot - just enough to make me part of the problem. I don't recall when it started. People who track stuff like this, say the gift card phenomenon began about 5 years ago. We mindlessly marched to retailers and bought these dumb, dumb gifts. Is it a gift at all? Is it the best gift choice? No & no. Gift cards can never replace the actual "in your hand" gift. Gift cards are nothing but a promise of a gift - as soon as the recipient gets off their butt and goes shopping. This requires much more effort than just ripping off wrapping paper. You have to drive to the store, park, walk in, walk the aisles, make a decision, stand in the checkout lane, walk back to your car & drive home again. That's 8 steps in all - that could've been avoided if you had only selected a gift. Any gift at all would bypass the whole process. Best gift choice? Not by a long shot. Gift cards require you shop a particular store. Of all the shopping choices there are - you must make a trip to Big Earls Supply - because someone gave you a Big Earls Gift card. Does Big Earl have something you want? Maybe - maybe not. Maybe the gift giver loves Big Earls and you wouldn't be caught dead in the place.
I love potpourri. Let's leave it at that. I have it - some in bowls around the house. Potpourri gives your home a fresh holiday scent. I sense no argument from you. The story I'm about to tell should serve as warning. POTPOURRI WARNING. Consider placing your potpourri in objects other than shallow dishes. I'm talking about the potpourri that is small pine-cones, twigs, dried flowers, and small chips of wood. In a dimly lighted room, potpourri can be mistaken for a party snack. Ask my Dad, who while trying to chew a mouthful of potpourri asked, "What the hell is this"? He thought it was a little dry.
I like cardboard tubes. I always have. It's the best thing about wrapping presents - the left over cardboard tubes. They make great swords. It's fun to thwack your kids in the head with them. Most of all - it's fun to speak into them. Grab a tube and talk into it. That is quality fun. If you don't see the value of speaking into a cardboard tube, you haven't done it recently. The joy of the tube has been lost to you for too long. Try it. Advanced tube play includes - blowing up balloons and attaching them to the ends of a long tube. You can then pretend it's a barbell and you're the worlds strongest person. You can use them as binoculars in your make believe world. I keep my tubes nearby all Christmas season. Whenever I need to raise my spirits - or those around me - I break out the old dependable tubes. Enjoy your tubes, they've always been there - you were just too quick to call them trash. Sometimes it's the little things right under your nose that make all the difference, and there's nothing more fun than "thwacking" your kids with a tube