By T. Katz
Q: This has been a tough year financially and gift-giving has visions of debt, not sugar plums, dancing in my head. My list of friends, co-workers and neighbors is long. Any suggestions on what to give that won’t break my piggy bank, destroy my kitchen (attempting homemade gifts) or make me look cheap?
A: This time of year can leave Jingle Bills ringing in your ears, right? The crass commercialism of the season can suck all of the joy out of what should be a time of good will to all men. There are tried and true things you can do to keep you out of the malls, catalogues and on-line shopping – but you don’t sound like the at-home fudge and cookie or batik cloth dying assembly line is your cup of tea. I get it. I still sport scars from the years I thought making candles and candies at home were good ideas. They weren’t. Double-boilers are still the tools of my most horrific nightmares. Learn from my mistakes, Grasshopper.
Sometimes, the best gift you can give is something people wouldn’t buy for themselves, especially items of convenience to make their lives easier. The trick to making the gift meaningful, will be the card or note you attach to it. For example:
A canvas laundry bag with a map of the world (under $10) with an expression of “You mean the world to me!” or “May your journeys gather memories for your soul and the dust of destinations unknown!” Now, you are a thoughtful and practical friend. We could all use more of those, I think.
The waterproof inflatable LED solar lantern ($15) is an incredible item to have in an emergency kit or car. It can be found in the camping section, stores completely flat and – like the loved one you gift it to – it is “an incredible source of light” and maybe, love. It’s a lifesaver.
Permanent Glass Paint Markers (under $10) let people write their own messages on glass or ceramic, they need only ‘bake’ the item to make it permanent. Suggest they have their kids or grandkids autograph a plate or mug with their name and a message they’ll enjoy for years to come. Or, maybe they can do as I did and put “Keys, Wallet, Watch, Phone, Glasses… Kisses” on a tray near the front door for often forgotten items. Not that anyone on my list is *cough* forgetful.
The book Home Comforts: The Art & Science of Keeping House ($15) by Cheryl Mendelson is a great gift for ANY age, because everyone should know how to make a bed with hospital corners and the best ways to combat food pathogens! Plus, THIS book is like the funny aunt who fills in your life education gaps without being all Judge-y McJudgerton about you finally learning how to fold a fitted sheet. Give it with a card that says something like “Let’s get together more often at your place, even if we order take-out to eat in!”
xo – t.