Everyday seems a bit shorter than the one before. Yes, it is almost fall and the long summer evenings are over. But truly, everyday is a slightly smaller percentage of one’s total lifetime and so seems a little less than every yesterday.
In other words, time flies. I can’t believe that summer will officially be over in just a few days. I was talking with Best Friend about Christmas shopping last week while we picked green beans. She and I are both clearance shoppers who buy ahead. But this year I am behind. So shopping has been on my mind and I was debating writing a post on gift ideas.
And then I found this article on minimalist gift giving. He offers some great tips (OK, a few of them are ideas I was going to share) and spells out several good reasons for reducing the crazy consumption. I have often tried to make Christmas presents as much about what we need as what we want. It should not be over looked, especially in today’s economic and environmental climate, that the most thoughtful gifts are ones that show the giver knows what the receiver really needs. A meaningful gift is personal and practical.
We live on a pretty meager budget. We are a one-income family. The great Christmas splurge has always been out of the question for us. But we do buy the kids toys and help them pick out presents to give. Or I should say, Santa brings them some things just for fun and we drag them to the store and force them to consider what the other would want that’s within budget. But we all get clothes for Christmas. Warm winter pajamas and thick wooly socks. The stockings will have toothbrushes and toothpaste crammed in with the candy and trinkets.
So here a few ideas.
Give away your own treasures. Do you still have a box of your own childhood toys? Give them to a child, tell them the story of when you got it. Last year I gave Little Girl the doll house my step-dad made me. I gave Little Boy the toy box my dad build when I was a baby. They don’t see these as hand me downs but rather as something to be proud of – family heirlooms.
Give from the Heart. I hate trying to find presents for my parents. They have everything. They are far better off than I am. My mom keeps a little frog pond. She’s put years of work into building her little oasis. So for Mother’s Day I got her a $9.99 ceramic statuette – of a Mama frog and her three babies (one each for my brother, sister and I) – that lives on the shore of Frog Pond and keeps her company when she sits to sip her tea and listen to the croaks and splashes.
Give for Need. Think about the things everyone uses. And specifically what the giftee uses. Coffee? Tea? Wine? Pet things? Baby things? Know a family living off Ramen Noodles and canned beans? Order them a bushel of fresh fruit. I’ve already mentioned that we give toothbrushes and toiletries. Little Girl likes a pack of hair ties. Little Boy likes BandAids with cartoons on them. A lot of little necessaries can fit in a stocking. Combs, chapstick, deodorant, and body wash can all be stocking stuffers.
Give from the Hands. Homemade gifts show time and effort. Custom paint shirts or shopping totes. Bake favorite treats. Also consider giving a kit for someone else to make something. Ingredients for a tasty meal for a cook. Craft supplies for an artsy child. A tool set for the older teenager preparing for life on their own. Seeds for a gardener.
An affordable Christmas need not be a meager deprived Christmas. And remember, Valentines is just around the corner.