Tis the season to be: stressed, flustered, short on gift ideas, short on cash, short on time, and sleep.
Since there is not much farm work to be done this time of year so I have picked up a few part time jobs. One of them being at a retail store.
While checking out, countless people (half of them looking weathered and angry) have said, "Oh this it! I'm done!" or "I'm finally done shopping." Many brands have commercials this year focusing on the "Thank God I'm Done" holiday shopping. Like it's torture.
Where is the joy? Where is the excitement? Where is the fun in discovering the perfect gift? Where is taking a little bit of time to roll up your sleeves, get crafty, and sew, decoupage, paint, cut, glue, mold, melt, bake, boil, etc. etc. a homemade gift?!
I realize not everyone is into crafting or may find themselves "terrible" at it (practice makes perfect my friends). However it's something I love and in recent years have made a homemade gift to give each Christmas. Ornaments, homemade scented bees wax candles, calendars, baked items and this year...well I can't share that just yet...ruin the surprise! However in the next week my office will turn into Santa's workshop with fabric scraps flying and the sewing machine humming.
I want you to think back to when you would wake up at 5 AM on Christmas morning, scream and jump until you parents woke up and sprint to the tree as quickly as your little legs would take you. It was a moment of endless possibility and excitement. A moment you had been thinking about ever since Thanksgiving dinner. Oh the anticipation. And then the sheer bubbly joy you felt opening your gifts that had been thoughtfully purchased/made.
Now lets take that "bubbly joy" of childhood and translate into gift shopping/making/giving as an adult. As cliche as it is to say "life is too short"....it is way too short not to savor the holidays. Find that joy in giving no matter what your budget.
And...making gifts is a great way to save. Even if you lack that Martha-like creative touch there are tons of websites to help you along the way especially if you're into pictures....
Artifact Uprising is an incredible way to give gifts with photographs and they use recycled paper
Shutterfly allows you to make really awesome high quality calendars
I love making and receiving ornaments...especially good for young people who are trying to build a collection of ornaments. They are useful, fun, and easy on the wallet. Martha Stewart, Country Living, and Pinterest are all A+ sources for ideas.
Pinterest is a killer resource for cookie recipes. Not to mention old cookbooks from grandma's house are filled with sweet treat ideas. Tis the season to splurge a little bit so cookies are always a welcome gift. Many choices will only run you between $3-$4 a dozen (or less)! Your budget will smile!
Continuing on the food trend, Canned items!
These are gorgeous and unlike cookies they can keep them around for a little while. Display them! Not to mention with canning you can start early. If you're making your gifts in July, August, and September you're set! You'll be kicked back sipping a martini with your feet up while everyone else is full speed ahead. If you want to give canning a shot in the next few weeks try apples, cranberries, and citrus. In order to keep this budget friendly ask about buying by the box at your local grocery...hopefully they can give you a bit of a break if you buy in bulk.
Lastly I leave you with the story of an unexpected gift:
Each year at Christmas dinner we do a gift exchange. You come with a gift of no more than $20 wrapped. Guests pull numbers for the order in which we select gifts. So two Christmases ago it was my Aunt's turn to pick a gift. She scoped them all out and went for the biggest item that was heavy....strangely heavy!
Now you need to know a little bit about my Aunt before I tell you what the gift was. She is pretty serious most of the time...a little on the stern side but you can get a glimpse of her softer side while she's petting one of her cats or working outside in the garden.
So she began unwrapping the gift and a huge smile started to grow on her face. Her eye brows raised....and there it was. A giant block of bird seed.
A giant block of bird seed?
She immediately said, "I have been wanting to get one of these for the yard!" Lots of laughter ensued! Ever since then someone always buys a block of bird seed which members of my family actually fight over. Yea it's absolutely ridiculous but I love it.
So tis the season to play, bake, sew, chop and mash, send hand written letters, dance like a fool to Mariah Carey's "All I Want for Christmas," try something new, and reach out to friends.