I, like many others, have been torn over the last few holiday seasons. It’s the same old feeling that Christmas has become too commercialized. Most of my generation can remember getting a couple toys and the rest of our gifts were shoes, socks, pajamas and other things we needed.
Things sure have changed. Anymore, kids seem to get so many gifts that will end up at Goodwill or in the garbage before the year passes. This is not even to mention the quantity. More is not always better. I have watched kids tear open a package and barely look at what the gift was before tossing it aside and going on to the next one. I’m not just picking on kids here. Many times we adults are no better.
Too many times, we feel that we have to give a gift and our hearts are not into it. So, it’s a mad rush to the store to pick up anything that’s available with very little thought put into it. After all, many people on our list may have everything that they want or need, so it’s hard to pick a heartfelt gift. This shows when they open it with the forced smile on their face.
All those things that the center aisles in stores are promoting just don’t have that warm and fuzzy feeling attached to them. Maybe I have found a better way to give a gift from the heart that can be easier on our pocketbook and, hopefully, cherished for years to come.
I’m talking about homemade gifts. They are gifts that give both ways. Recipients know you put thought (and sometimes, elbow grease!) into it and you feel accomplished by making something. Most of the time, you have whatever you need around the house and don’t need to purchase anything.
The great part is that anybody can make something without being especially talented in any given area. Look to your strengths first, if you are a talented seamstress, woodworker or are skilled in other crafts, so much the better.
For a Neighbor or Acquaintance
Your neighbors, your hairdresser, the mailman and other people who are in your life that you want to acknowledge may be friends on a professional basis. Remember, they are still working and during this busy season, anything that makes their life simpler will be greatly appreciated.
Hot chocolate or cookie mix in a jar tied with a pretty bow. All they need to do is add the liquid ingredients for some warm comfort food.
Greenery. If you have pine trees, cut a few boughs and make swags or wreaths. They don’t have to be elaborate, a little wire and a big red bow can turn a few branches into something special.
Plant cutting. If you have a special plant like a Christmas cactus or others, a start off one of yours will be the gift that keeps on giving. At the very least, a poinsettia adds a splash of color and cheer to any home.
Photos for Family
There is always something special about pictures, they capture moments in time that will last a lifetime. No, you don’t have to be a photographer because everyone has special photos, it just may take a little time digging them out.
Family photo. If you can arrange for a family picture, they are always welcomed– and you can feed two birds with one scone. A family photo can be one gift that parents, siblings, aunts and uncles and others will enjoy. It’s like one gift fits all.
Photo collages. If you can’t get the whole crew together for one big photo, find individual photos and with a few clicks of a mouse you can put them all in a collage for a unique family picture. If you really want something special, plan ahead for next year and arrange for an aerial photo of a person’s farm or property to be taken.
Photo crafts. For a unique look and a twist on traditional photos, try modge-podging pictures on wood. You can see the photo while also having the grain of the wood show through.
Ordinary becomes extraordinary when names and dates are added. Cutting boards, Bible covers, cookbook holders and other everyday items become unique when personalized.
Don’t forget about kids. Laptops, jewelry boxes, phone cases and other items are easily personalized with today’s laser printers. You don’t even have to invest in a printer. There are usually some individuals who have one and are willing to make a few extra bucks doing custom work.
If you happen to know even a little bit about woodworking, you can make some awesome gifts. Even if you don’t, many wood crafts are available for purchase in the “raw” and are ready to be finished however you like.
Perpetual calendars can be cut in many designs…or purchased. You can decoupage any design on them, paint on them or customize in many different ways. It’s a gift that will give year after year.
Game boards. In spite of technology, sometimes it brings a family together to sit down and play games together. Years back I made a checker board for my dad with his name on it. The sky is the limit on this one, Chinese checkers, Monopoly and other games lend themselves well to customizing the boards.
Cut blocks from scrap wood. One side could spell “Merry Christmas” while other sides could be “Happy Thanksgiving” and “Happy Easter.” They add extra charm to homes setting on windowsills.
Sewing and Needlecrafts
Winter scarves can be crocheted or knitted in no time at all and make personal gifts.
Holiday pillow covers can really add a festive touch to a room.
Crocheted angels and other ornaments add a personal touch to Christmas trees.
If you like to hang out in the kitchen, you probably have a specialty. Do family and friends rave over your jams, homemade candies, caramel corn, beef jerky or other specialties? They would make nice gifts.
Homegrown meats. If you raise your own beef, pork or chicken. Everyone eats and farm-raised meats are so much tastier than out of the store.
Gifts of Time
If you absolutely can’t think of anything to make, cook, bake or sew, a gift of yourself from the heart can really say you care.
Time is a commodity and it really does have a value. Offer “coupons” to family and friends for services like babysitting, yard work, time to relieve a caregiver, etc. It will be appreciated more than you know!
Coupons. This is one where you could give a “family coupon” where the whole family helps out another. Not only will you be helping another family out, but yours will enjoy together time while giving it.
There are many ways to give from the heart and to put the true meaning of Christmas back into Christmas. I love this two-way giving, it warms the hearts of not only the person receiving but also of the person giving. It doesn’t get any better than this.
Lois Hoffman is a freelance writer and photographer covering rural living with more than 20 years of experience, contributing to Successful Farming, Country, and Farm & Ranch Living. She lives on a 37-acre hobby farm in Michigan.
All GRIT community bloggers have agreed to follow our blogging guidelines, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts.