My life was so simple. Then I married Roger.

You see, my whole family lives within  a two hour drive of my home. We get together for holidays and exchange gifts like the Norman Rockwell painting says we are supposed to do.

Then I had to marry a southern boy.

When Roger was looking for his first grown-up job, as a senior at Purdue University, he told God his requirements. “God, I will go anywhere except California.” Yeah. That’s a good idea. Tell God what you won’t do.

So twenty-five years ago Roger got a job in Cupertino with HP and he has been a California boy ever since.

The only problem is that he left a whole family who all live in Georgia, and who all celebrate Christmas.  And somehow, each year I forget that their gifts require an extra step or two.

So today, your project is to get your plan together for any out of town gifts. There are three approaches you can take:

  1. Order all your gifts online and have them shipped from the company.
  2. Buy gifts and ship them out from home.
  3. Make sure you’ve married a local boy or stop talking to out of state relatives and friends.

Let me know what approach you subscribe to, as well as any tips you have for gift giving for out of towners. I would love some fresh thoughts about what to do for my mother-in-law.

And here is a great suggestion from reader Kim Ward: “Kathi, with our family far away we use to help organize our giving. The girls were asking each set of Grandparents for the Thing Most Wanted and that resulted in duplicate items that needed to be exchanged and sore feelings for Grandparents not getting the crazy reaction they were hoping for. allows you to post ideas from any website easily or create your own manually. Then family can select what they like, ‘reserve’ it and link to the item to buy it immediately if you want. It will also send you an e-mail reminder of what you’ve reserved.”

Later in the projects, my husband Roger – the shipping guru (if you’ve ever ordered something from our store, he’s probably the one who sen it,) will be sharing all of his mailing tips for getting those gifts to Grandmother’s house.

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