A few years ago, someone I know sent out an email saying that he was cancelling Christmas that year due to financial constraints. He had gotten caught in the trap that Christmas was more about the expensive gifts than the time spent with others.
Being an “almost minimalist” by nature, I have always believed simplicity is the best solution for the holidays. With that in mind, I also feel that it is good to give gifts. I personally enjoy giving random gifts throughout the year, especially to people I don’t even know.
However, these gifts do not have to be expensive. In fact, I try to put together several “do-it-yourself” gifts to give on such occasions rather than spend a ton of money on gifts.
Here are some ideas for DIY gifts that can cause your family to say wow.
Cookies: My aunt’s favorite. While you are at it, host a holiday cookie baking party. Everyone makes their favorite cookies, and you all split the final results.
Pine Cone Fire Starters: Just a little wax and pine cones. Perfect for fireplaces.
Secret Hollow Book: Take an old book, a little glue, a knife and you have a secret box perfect for your friend’s car keys.
Recipe Booklet: While subscriptions to food magazines are the norm in my family, I think a recipe book with your favorite recipes from the year is a nice personal touch.
Themed Gift Basket: No need to go expensive, but find a theme they like and add some food or other small items related to the theme. Sports, Italian, Nature? The only limits to what you can think up as a theme are the limits of your own imagination.
Memory Drawing: For the artistic folks, draw a picture of a memory you have of the other person.
Gingerbread House: I don’t mean a set they build. Spend the time to build one and give it. Children love them!
Personalized Calendar: If you have children, grandparents and other relatives always enjoy a calendar of them. Of course, you could also give a personalized calendar to your significant other or other important person in your life.
Make An Ornament: It can be made out of salt dough, paper or anything you have around. Its handmade nature will make it unique and special.
Volunteer As A Group: Setup a time to volunteer at a soup kitchen with them.
Create An Experience: Do they like to camp? What about walking in the park? Take them out for the day; you can even make a picnic out of it.
Homemade Granola Or Trail Mix: Simple to make, and you can make different varieties for specific people.
Mixed CD/DVD: Spend time crafting a mixed CD for them. Or maybe put together a DVD of your favorite pictures/short videos from throughout the year.
Gift Certificates: Give them a handmade certificate for a service you can provide. Maybe you’ll do the dishes, give a massage, walk the dog, offer a special night out. It could be anything they would enjoy getting a break from — or having to do themselves.
There are many options out there. Always remember: The time spent is more than the money spent. For those who still want to (or feel they must) give traditional gifts, just remember to keep a budget.