I have a Monday morning confession: This is the first year in memory that not a single homemade or non traditional gift item will be in my Christmas gift giving pile. Oh yea, I am definitely working on some projects: The Kimono for my daughter, a complete reworking of her Tshirt quilt (which depending on my decisions, I'll be sharing some step by steps on), and the blanket for my brother and sister in law. This year, all will be simply given when done. But for Christmas Day and that $50 limit, I am relying completely on Amazon.
Most years, I have at least one alternative gift in the bunch. And often it's not for budget reasons. In fact, money is usually on the bottom of the list as to why I give homemade gifts, be they crafty or otherwise. Gifts I give of myself are original, planned for a specific recipient, and yes, they can be cost effective. Still, I know lots of people are lost lost when it comes to giving (or receiving) homemade/handmade/non traditional gifts. And for some it has a bad connotation. Perhaps because we often treat those kind of gifts in the same manner as we do those last minute gifts bought on Christmas Eve. I realize many readers are of the no gifts or no gifts except for kids persuasion. But these kinds of gifts can work for kids, especially older kids too. And if you're like me and have a social event or two where small gifts are the norm-that works as well.
This year, even though I have those multiple crafting projects going on, my primary gift source, as I said above, is mainly Amazon. Mainly, to tell the truth, because everything on my kid's list are basic needs (what happens when you have three family members not working and in school full time and a son in law carrying up the slack, for one). But I have done the homemade thing before-and not all of them were "crafty". To that end, here is my annual list of non traditional gift ideas for the mainly non crafty that I have given, taught classes on, or suggested to others. All have been well received and some are requested each year-even the food items from the non-cook:
- Homemade food specialties. Whatever your "thing" is, barbecue sauce, pesto, flavored popcorn.. The trick with these is time and packaging. In other words, making a Christmas cover for the jar and putting it in a gift basket, or making a set of three flavors as a set is what makes all the difference.
- Family Recipe Book. This is a working project for me as I get recipes from far flung relatives but eventually it will be done. Get a cheap Christmas scrapbook or use a binder. With the graphic alternatives available today, making beautiful pages is easy. Why make your daughter-in law beg for your killer lasagna recipe? Share it with her now. Or give an album and one or two recipes with promises for more.
- See if you can find a reasonably priced used or classic book from someones childhood.
- Give away your stuff. Not all of it mind you, but a family Christmas ornament or heirloom a year (assuming it's one said child or family member would really use) so that it can be used now is a wonderful gift. And you're downsizing in the process
- Write down your memories for kids or grand kids. I'm not talking about a best selling biography here. I'm talking about starting some kind of journal and writing down things about you or your kids that family members may not remember. Your kids will like it and your grand kids (if you have any) will LOVE it. Have pictures to show some of the history-especially a few embarrassing ones in the mix.
- If you are separated by miles, make a video
- If you are separated by miles, consider (if you have the appropriate equipment or can borrow it) recording a favorite story for a child or grandchild. They get their favorite book on CD with the added gift of your voice.
- If you take really good pictures, scrounge a frame, spiff it up, enlarge the picture and give it as a gift. Do you know how much professional family portraits cost?
- Day outing or family experience. Or do it just for the kids. A Christmas movie with all the goodies, sleigh ride, Christmas tree hunt
- If it's reasonable priced, look for a collectible item. I collect china tea cups. These can cost up to twenty five dollars, but they can also be found for three to ten dollars (the ones I just saw from occupied Japan). Obviously, you need to know that the individual still collects or really wants this item.
- Burn specific Cd's. I don't like to listen to only one artist. My brother is a computer geek who knows how to download every single free music track there is (as well as video) he has given me many classic rock CD mixes of songs-often with live performances. He's also given my son DVDs such as Jeff Beck at an Austin, Texas location-amateur video but priceless.
- Consider giving the gift of you to far away family-in their presence, as a surprise.
- If you have a green thumb, give plants and or clippings. My father used to just look at Orchids and they grew (in the ground, even in the winter, in north Texas). I was more than happy, to say the least, to take his offshoots.This year my daughter is getting succulent offshoots from a friend
- Back to the food gifts again-consider an "of the month" gift. Decorated cookie of the month, homemade soup of the month, you name it.
- Give the gift of your time and services: Make the coupon book look REALLY good, and make specific definite plans on the coupon book or as soon after the gift is given. Don't promise to spend the afternoon with your daughter one on one "someday", have a time or an event in mind. Gifts of service and skill can include: A romantic meal and/or a promise to babysit, spending the day on the floor with your granddaughter having a tea party and playing with Lego's, offering to climb up on the ladder and paint the trim on your parents house.