Saturday, December 17, 2011

On a Budget? Quick, Meaningful Homemade Gifts

  One of the blessings of this time of year is that the true meaning of Christmas can resurface -- the spiritual reasons, the contemplation of a year past and the hope a new one brings, spending time with family, breaking bread, and serving others who may be in even greater need. 

The true gift of these times is that we realize what is more important and identify what isn't, learn that we can indeed live with far less, while we need each other more... If there was ever a time to be filled with the true Spirit and meaning of Christmas, this time--right now-- is.

A return to things found and made to give as gifts require we give much more of ourselves, cause us to think more about the person we craft it for... and they are enjoyed in equal measure because of it. So what if you make something this year? There's still time for the below:

The Gift of Music:

My favorite thing to give and receive is a home made playlist or CD. Don't need fancy label making software or to buy name brand discs and cases...

I take my time thinking about the person and their tastes, and sometimes I give people something I think is good that might expand their usual fare. Today with Itunes and a laptop that can burn CD's (or an external CD maker) it's easy.  Type up the playlist by title and artist and print it out on some colored paper, then tape to the inside of a jewel case... or even give in an envelope or a paper case... OR you can compose a playlist on your computer, then put the list in a box, wrapped to give. When they open, you can download it to the device of their choice.

Go wild and make two discs or a collection, each for different moods or seasons. In the process, you will discover new or rediscover old music you love and remember the power that music carries. TIP: Find cheaper, non-name brand stacks of blank CD's at Office Depot or Staples.

"Spirit" Box
For Gratitude, Fears or Worries. There is plenty to be worried about these days, and often we feel helpless. Create a sacred box that your loved one can use to turn whatever's keeping them up at night or dragging down their day over and let it go...

Take any kind of box and cut out pictures of whatever you think will enhance the meaning of the box for the receiver... you can simply glue those on, or add decoupage (easily procured for a few bucks from your local craft store), You can paint it a soothing color. Or you might find a box at a flea market or garage sale. It could even be a basket, but I suggest it has a top. There is something theraputic about shutting the lid on the issue of the moment. Include a little pad of paper and if you'd like, a fountain pen (see here for one under $4), a cool pencil or something with colored ink.  Include  directions essentially saying: This box is to hold their troubles and questions, letters to people saying what they couldn't say in person, forgivenesses, etc... Write it on paper and put it in side, then let go and let the universe work it's magic. Make it as simple or elaborate (adding an inspirational quote or poem) as you like.

Appreciation Book:
I once made up a book for a friend... 25 reasons why -- take your pick: I love/admire/repect/appreciate/am crazy about you, want to be your friend, love living my life with you, can't live without you" for starters. It can go to a significant other, a dear friend, a mentor, your kids, grandkids, etc...

I made up a list over a few days of everything that came into my head on the topic. The best ones stood out and I chose from that list a smaller list. I arranged each in the order I thought worked and found a little notebook with a hard cover. Places that sell small photo albums or brag books work well - or make your own. You can go to town making little collages, writing on related or meaningful pictures, etc... but I just wrote the words on each plain white page, nicely, neatly maybe, but believe me, simple words are enough if you're not up for an art project.

A Year of Good Jar:
A jar that holds 365 little notes, quotes, etc... personalized for whomever the receiver is... I put one on this blog a few months ago (CLICK HERE to see) and I thought, this would be very easy to make CLICK HERE to see that example. This site will give you many other ideas besides the example I used that was for a sister.

Plain Ol' Photos
Yep, people still love photos, even though you might be able to see them all on Facebook, INSTAGRAM, SnapFish etc. Photos you can hold in your hand, frame, preserve in an album.

With many of our at-home computer printers able to do photos, that has become easier, or take pix on a little thumb drive to CVS or Walgreens and use their easy machines for a buck or so a pic (watch the circulars for weekly deals). If you don't want to do that you should be able to drop them off at your local Staples, Office Depot or Kinkos and have them do it all for you for not that much more.

You can give as is, include with a photo album, put them IN the album yourself and give that or frame (if you have a good eye you can find them cheap at drugstores, Walmart or discount places like Kohls, Loehmans, TJMaxx, etc...).

Not just any Recipes:
We all would like that recipe that grandma made, or mom, or aunt so and so.... or all of them. If you can get hold of those, you will be a HERO!  Food, like music, bring us back to different times and places immediately, so nothing could be more personal, more honoring of your own legacy than these kinds of gifts.

Write it out neatly (or type) on a card that's durable (or you can go to town and laminate it at any office supply store) and give it as is, in a card with a related memory, or in a box or book with blank spaces for them to add more.

The Gift of Make Believe, Fun and Play:
Superhero in a Box, for ages 3 and up, one size fits all somehow... Cool idea for any age.  It doesn't need to be Halloween, as you know, since kids ALWAYS love to dress up. Great for impromptu family theater, photo sessions, etc... as the day's festivities wind down and there's all that time and no school!

Even without being able to sew, you could make a bunny in a box by getting a little set of ears and a tail and a pink tee shirt including an eyebrow pencil to draw on whiskers. Red Riding Hood in a box? Fireman? Doctor? Or leave it to their imagination and just include masks, ears on headbands, face paint, temporary tattoos, colored hair sprays, and a big square of solid colored fabric to present endless possibilities!

And I don't even have to mention that there are adult versions of this one see hee.. the french maid, the fireman, etc...

Food, Glorious Food!
It is a time for eating, drinking and being merry... so even if you throw some cinnamon sticks and nutmeg into apple cider or wine and pour it into a mason jar, make rice chrispie treats (I dice up those red and green candied cherries you can find this time of year to make flecks of christmas color in them), put split peas and chicken bullion into a jar and tie an artfully written soup recipe around the lid with a pretty ribbon, or go to town cutting out cookies and decorating them, I guarantee it will be welcomed and consumed. I have popped my own corn and drizzled caramel on it and dipped mini pretzles into melted chocolate and let them dry on wax paper over cookie sheets and given those away. Also, hard candy recipes abound... with a little karo syrup and a thermometer and some tasty extracts, you can put some local stores out of business!

Hand Crafting:
It goes without saying that if you knit a scarf or afgan or booties, sew up stockings or a hat, bake clay or carve wood to make ornaments, or can whip up a cloth dollie, you HAVE to know it will be the BEST GIFT. Yes the world has become high tech, but nothing beats the time and thoughtfulness put into something made by the hands and heart. And yes, some of these take time and there are only about 9 days left til Christmas and Kwanzaa. But it's something to think about.

CLICK HERE for more DIY gifts posts on this blog!

If you have any ideas, please share them in the comment area! Hopefully this list got your wheels turning, and will revive your spirit a little. 


Megan said...

I love the idea of the appreciation book! I'm absolutely going to do that this year!

PV Panels London said...

Great ideas! The appreciation book is definitely going on my to do list! Thanks for the inspiration!

PDX Granny said...

These are some good ideas, Rochelle! I like the idea of the Spirit box. I think I'll make one for Austen. He has trouble sleeping at night because he just can't shut off his mind. Maybe if he puts his thoughts away for the night it might help. :)