I’m trying my best to be less of a consumer over the holidays this year. Something I try to do every year but the days get away from me or I feel so much pressure to give. I should be giving out of the kindness of my heart – which I do, and I love to do – but my wallet doesn’t always agree with me. I feel like I give out of expectation and appearances sometimes – that’s stressful. Now that I have my own family, the holidays and the act of giving are being reevaluated around here. Why do we give? What do we give? How are we represented in what we choose to give? What are the gifts that we receive?
There is a reason why everyone loves the spirit Thanksgiving. Our expectation is to share a bountiful meal with our friends and family and even a few strangers and to just be gracious, thankful and well fed. What could be better than that? It’s the gift giving of Christmas that unsettles me, there is so much consumerism wrapped up in what should be a day of reflection, celebration, gratitude, peace and giving. I want to make sure our Christmas is filled with these values every year
So around our house we’ve tried to emphasize a few ground rules:
1. Gift giving should be modest and in your means.
2. Handmade gifts are appreciated and valued.
3. Experiences are great gifts instead of objects.
4. Shop your local community
That said I’m going to try and make (or order - I'm only human - and a full time working Mom) as many of gifts as possible this year and I’ve set a deadline to be done before Thanksgiving so I can sit back and truly enjoy the festivities. Plus I’m going to try to make the year a little greener and not to use any wrapping paper!
Here are some of my gift ideas this year and from years past:
1. Donations to your friend or family’s favorite cause. Remember it’s tax deductible for you! There’s no wrapping involved. Here's where we donated this year: Aid to Artisans, A Better Way, Lakeside's River Park Conservancy.
2. Edible gifts from a local farm. I gave beautiful bay laurel wreaths from McFadden Farm to everyone on my list one year. Send it early in the season and they can cook with it too. Again now wrapping or shopping malls involve here. You can also find farms with ams, fruit, herbs, honey, lavender, even a weekly CSA..... all good stuff.
3. Personalized canvas bags from L.L. Bean. I gave these to all my family one year in different mix-matched colors. You can put fun words or nicknames on them instead of frumpy initials and they have some fun colors to work with. Best of all they are reusable for many years to come.
4. Gift certificates. While I'm not a huge fan of these because they never seem personal - what are you going to give a teenager, seriously. But you can give the gift of an experience at a restaurant, class or a spa instead of goods. A cooking class, a manicure, drinks at a new restaurant... think outside the box.
5. Baked something and put it in a pretty box. Last year I made these amazing cookies and toffee much like this . I was over at Michael's the other day and they have so many easy ways to dress edibles up.
6. Sew something up. For the kids on my list I'm making a little apron (as you see above) for crafting or baking messes. I'll send them with either a box of crayons or markers.For the others on my list I'm sewing a drawstring bag instead of using wrapping paper (from fabric and ribbon in my stash). The bag will be reusable for lots of other things. Inside I'm including 2-3 mixes from King Arthur Flour . So people can enjoy their baked goods when they please on their own time. They do have a good selection of organic mixes too. A set of 4-6 napkins is an easy project with your scrap fabric too.
7. Magazine subscriptions. Maybe not the greenest gift but I like 'em. Amazon is always having sales and there are some good crafting or cooking magazines that people don't want to spend the money on but buy as a guilty pleasure every once and a while.Home Companion, Selvedge, Vanity Fair, Ready Made. Domino, Real Simple, Gourmet, Cook's Illustrated, Saveur, Craft, Everyday Food....