I have to confess that I was a person of little faith when the topic of Christmas gifts came up in last week’s column ( http://www.meridianmagazine.com/circle-of-sisters/article/6646?ac=1). The reason for this is that I’d tried this same topic a couple of years ago, and the only thing that arrived in my email box that week was a lone cricket. Apparently, however, there are enough people who are experiencing hard times these days that the time has come for the topic of inexpensive or even recycled Christmas gifts. Let’s see what our readers have to say:
Personally I enjoy regifted gifts. We call them “experienced.” The thing that makes the difference is the thought put in it.
One year my son was getting ready for a mission and went to the thrift store for the entire family. His presents didn't cost much, but he put a ton of thinking into it all and got everyone something special. We knew he had taken time and thought. I think his presents that year were the most delightful and certainly so fun because no one knew ahead of time what was coming. There were surprises for all.
My sisters and I used to set a $1 limit on what we could spend on each other. (This was a long time ago!) There were no other rules. Yard sale, craft supplies, craft supplies at a yard sale, something new — the source didn't matter, as long as the price wasn’t over a dollar. It was challenging and fun. Families might try that.
Christmas is a lot more fun if time and thought are the priceless gifts given.
Rupert 5th Ward, Idaho
Debrah, I love the idea of “experienced” gifts. I think I’m going to start thinking of myself as an “experienced” person, rather than just an old one.
Thrift stores can be remarkable places, by the way. We have one in Middleburg, Virginia, which is a very wealthy fox-hunting area. The things that rich people use once and then give away to be sold for pennies are amazing. Note to readers: Whether you’re shopping at a thrift store or going to a yard sale, the rich neighborhoods have the primo merchandise.
Last year I gave my kids quilts that my mother had made and used. I did explain in a hand-written note that they were used but they had been made and used by their grandmother who had died of cancer several years before and that I had inherited them when my dad died. As they read the notes, my daughters got emotional and my sons pretended not to! I think the note explaining that they were from, me, Grandma and Grandpa made it so they didn't even think about the fact that they were gifts that had not cost me any monetary price.
I think the flashlights are an excellent idea. Along with them maybe put together some "car emergency kits" that don't cost a lot. Most stakes have dry pack canners. You buy the can, put in some pieces of gum (buy packs but only put a few pieces in each can rather than the whole
pack), and add a few pieces of hard candy. (If not too late hit the leftover Halloween candy aisles for hard candies on sale.) Then add granola bars, fruit snacks, hot chocolate, soup mixes, and the flashlight. If you have a little more in your budget, add some bandages and first aid ointment. Seal up the can and tape a cheap can opener to it and you have spent little money for a emergency preparedness Christmas gift! Especially since you already have the flashlights, you would be surprised at how little per gift this works out to be. Put a label on the can with the contents. (And when they open the can they won't know the flash light was used; they'll think
it got scratched in the can!)
What great ideas, VaLynne! I once got a recycled quilt from my younger sister as a Christmas gift, but because the quilt had seen a lot of hard use she had it made into a stuffed bunny. (Bunnies are very important to Clark and me.) I treasure the bunny because it’s a family heirloom, made into something that has sentimental value for other reasons. It was a marvelous gift.
I really like the idea of incorporating the dry pack canners into homemade Christmas presents. What a creative idea! You can adapt it in a lot of ways, such as adding toys and coloring books to be taken on vacations. Nifty!
This bad economy has given us a chance to focus on something I have known for a long time — the best gifts are those that show some thought on the part of the giver, and have nothing to do with the amount of money spent. I think we have all received inexpensive gifts that we cherish because of the thought behind them. Giving a gift like this is really a double gift — the receiver appreciates the gift, but he also appreciates the fact that you are interested enough in him to know what he likes.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have received very expensive gifts that are still in the box, because they reflected the taste of the giver rather than the receiver.
I always appreciate gift cards, especially if they are for establishments that I patronize. One Christmas I was between jobs, and money was really tight. A friend gave me a Costco card that I could use to buy food and gasoline, and I really appreciated that. The same friend gives me a gift card each year for a home improvement store, and I think nice thoughts about him whenever I need some kind of home repair item (which seems to be quite often). Last year I bought my wife a gift card to a restaurant that we like. Rather than blowing the whole card on one visit, we used it for take-out appetizers to supplement our regular dinner, and it lasted most of
One friend in the ward makes us a different needlepoint Christmas ornament each year, and another friend makes small stained-glass ornaments of LDS temples. Both of these gifts cost very little, but do take a lot of time (which probably makes them even more treasured).
Many of us have talents that we can use to make gifts, such as painting, writing, and photography. There are websites where you can make customized photo gifts, such as mugs, calendars, photo books and stationary. If you want to spend even less, you can make your own gifts if you have the proper software and tools at home. I can make and print digital scrapbooks, and I also have the software to edit and make CDs and DVDs (beware of copyright laws, however). Many years ago my wife wrote a personal story for one of her nieces, which I think is one of the most touching stories she has ever written.
Homemade coupon books can be fun. You can make the coupons by hand or computer, and then bind them together in a book. Each coupon can be redeemed for a service (wash the car, do the dishes), or an inexpensive product (favorite meal or dessert).
My wife and I are also lucky because we have low expectations of the gifts we receive, and appreciate practical gifts in addition to (and probably more than) extravagant gifts.