|Hand made and painted polymer clay jewellery|
Some years I use organisation to break up the costs so that the end of the year doesn’t come with large bills I can’t manage. I’ve shopped for my Christmas gifts in the January and End of Financial Year sales, and had everything ready to go by August. This is a great approach if you’re the kind of person who finds putting aside money for Christmas impossible, but tucking gifts away in a cupboard manageable. I carry around with me a master list of people I’m buying gifts for (this can be a bit of paper in your wallet or a document on your phone) and every time I spot something that would make a great gift for someone I know I check my list. If I haven’t already bought theirs and I can afford it that week, I get it, write in my list or cross their name off, and tuck the gift away somewhere safe.
Be warned though, without a list you can get mixed up and end up with four gifts for one person and nothing for someone else! It’s also important not to forget the safe place you’re keeping them! I’ve done that before and it does rather undo your hard work!
Consider where you get gifts from. Second hand shops and charity shops can be great places to look. Technology also gets cheaper every year so small electronic items such as little key-chain digital photo displays can make great gifts. Cheap shops can be a great source of gifts, one year I bought mugs and then filled them with nuts and wrapped them in cellophane. Coffee lovers may appreciate a bag of quality coffee, chocolate lovers may love sachets of hot chocolate. Cheese lovers love getting cheeses! One year most of my female friends were given lovely blends of essential oils. Small personal gifts can be more meaningful than expensive ones.
There are some great online stores, which for those of us with a physical limitation or stress around crowds can take a lot of the stress out of Christmas shopping! I’ve had years where I’ve done all my shopping online because my health was too poor to cope with the shops. EBay has a huge range of items for sale, and you can limit searches to your local area (for quicker/cheaper postage) or by price so you only see items under $10 for example. Be aware that if you’re not very savvy online you can get into trouble with new or rotten sellers, so don’t get too enthused and put in money on bigger items until you’ve learned the ropes and got the hang of feedback ratings and how to tell a good reliable seller. Etsy is a similar online store, but this time for only handmade items. This can be a fantastic place to buy beautiful handcrafted gifts of very high quality. You can limit searches to specific areas and by price on this too. Etsy also has an area to buy supplies for making things, so you can use it to shop for unusual beautiful art and craft supplies, and make your own gifts, or use the supplies as gifts for crafty friends. The same caution as being new to eBay applies to Etsy. Book depository is another great online resource I use, you can choose a category – for example, Children’s Fiction, and then set the price from low to high so you can choose some lovely books for your nieces and nephews and pay perhaps $3 each. Book depository has no postage costs so it’s easy to work out your budget. I’m not affiliated with any of the resources or shops I’m mentioning and don’t get any money from any of them. 🙂
Too many gifts to buy? Try to limit this in some way – try buying a gift for the whole family eg a box of shortbread, instead of something for each person. Consider only buying gifts for kids. See if your people will go for a Kris Kringle idea where people all put their names in a hat, and you only have to buy a gift for the person who’s name you draw out of it. Another great idea I’ve used before that takes less organising, is to ask everyone attending a party to bring only one gift, and set a price limit such as $10. Every person who attends on the day brings their wrapped gift and puts it on a table. When it comes to gift time, everyone there selects a gift from the table that wasn’t theirs. Viola! Anyone bringing extra guests and plus ones just brings and extra gift from them too. Very little organisation required and everyone goes home with a present.
Too few gifts to buy? I’ve had some miserable Christmases where my social world had shrunk to almost nothing. It was painful to not have people to fuss over. Those years I gave gifts to charity – not just giving money but actually choosing a gift, whether it was something for a charity collection like the Kmart wishing tree or a donation to a third world country – used bicycles or sewing machines for example, or from a catalogue such as money towards meals for people who are homeless, or buying chickens for a family in Africa. I also bought a gift for myself as a way of telling myself that I mattered. If you have a pet you love, try buying them a gift – I’ve been informed that tasty dog treats can be wrapped up and you can spend an amusing morning on Christmas watching your furry friend tear it open.
If you’re a crafty kind of person like me, you may like to make your gifts. I’ve always been able to find some great books in the library about making your own presents. If you like to cook that’s always a winner. I’ve given boxes of brownies, home made shortbread, chocolate truffles, small cakes, puddings, tarts, and cookies as gifts.
|Coconut rum truffles|
|Truffles and other goodies packed in noodle boxes|
|Honey and nutmeg biscuits|
|Pear and rhubarb tarts|
I’ve also given pre-made but uncooked gifts that other people can make up when they want them, such as Brownies in a Jar. This can be great to avoid giving more rich sweet foods that need quick eating to people already overloaded at Christmas. Having said that, sweets and chocolates that will keep for a few months are also fun and usually well received. Handmade cosmetics such as nourishing hand cream for gardeners can be lovely gifts and I’ve enjoyed making them before. I’ve also had fun with crafty gifts such as painting plain journals from a newsagent as gifts.
|Journal painted with picture from a magazine
and binding from Spotlight
|Journal painted with pressed leaves
and decorative brass panel
|Journal stamped and painted with fabric paint,
frog cut from a magazine
|Journal stamped and painted
with foam and hand made stamps
Of course, small artworks can make lovely gifts such as small framed paintings or photographs. I find craftster a fantastic online community full of crafty ideas very inspiring. Be careful about giving someone something huge, they might not have anywhere they want to put it! I’ve also made beaded jewellery, cross stitch bookmarks, decorated photo frames, and handmade Christmas tree ornaments. If you like making things, this can be a huge amount of fun, setting yourself small projects throughout the year, or perhaps setting aside a few weeks to bake or sew to your heart’s content.
|Cross stitch bookmark|
|Handmade beaded jewellery|
|Photo frame decorated with beads, shells and paint|
|Handmade jewellery – left is a duck pendant made in the WEA
kiln fused glass class, right is a hand carved wooden pendant
|Home done hair dye gift|
Don’t forget gifts of service such as offering to wash a car, take someone to the movies, babysit, refresh their computer, drive them to the beach, cook them a meal, or colour their hair. Sometimes these are the perfect gifts for broke friends where spending money on something would only embarrass them.
Plants or seeds make lovely gifts for gardeners, and if you have a garden of your own, produce, flowers, cuttings, or seeds from it are also beautiful gifts. If the person you’re giving them to isn’t a confident gardener, consider rooting the cuttings or striking the seeds yourself to get them started. Easy seeds are big ones like pumpkins, sweet peas and sunflowers. Geraniums are very easy to grow from cuttings. You don’t have to be a great cook to give gifts of food. A bag of plums from your tree is magic! One year I dehydrated a lot of fruit from the market and boxed them up in little gift boxes lined with waxed paper.
|Plums ripening on my tree|
|Potted flowers are easy and cheerful|
|Raising seeds in my hot box|
I hope there’s some useful suggestions in here for your gift dilemmas. Have good fun whatever you choose to do. 🙂