Thoughtful and Practical Gifts from the Heart
Article by Tammy Paquin
Despite recent predictions that we’re coming out of the recession, I know many people are still struggling. Holidays like Christmas where there is financial pressure to spend money on stuff makes it hard for people to find the joy in giving so instead of looking at these situations as a burden on your wallet, look at them as an opportunity to give from your heart.
Think of your talents-Do you scrap book? Do wood working? Do you quilt, knit or do other crafts? Do you make jams, jellies or other preserves? Are you a car buff? Do you have an eye for details? Think of creating presents with your talents! Truthfully, anyone who puts down a homemade and thoughtful present isn’t worthy of receiving them.
* Scrapbookers- Giving grandparents a page of scrapbooked pictures set into an inexpensive frame is thoughtful and I can think of many grandparents who always complain of never having updated pictures. Down the road, you could give them an expandable storage book for their outdated pages. How about scrapbooking your cherished family recipes for your children?
* Quilters and/or sewers-Create gifts with those talents! I found a pattern for quilted checkbook covers. They were fast, easy and allowed me to personalize them for each recipient (cat fabric for my cat loving friend). I’m not much of a sewer but even I was able to make flannel pajama bottoms for my boys.
* Knitters/crocheters- My Great Gram always used to knit mittens for us. She would also make us hats and scarves. I still have a pair of double-yarn mittens she made me over 40 years ago. They’re now stashed safely in my closet but I still think fondly of how warm they were and how much I loved wearing them and loved my Gram for making them for me. Who can’t appreciate a homemade present like that?
* Car person-I know it’s not as easy as it used to be to work on cars but thankfully, oil changes are still generally a do-it-yourself deal. If you’re still into changing your own oil, considering giving coupons to your friends or family to change THEIR oil as a present (note that it’s for labor only and the recipient still has to buy the supplies). I know I would LOVE getting a practical present like that!
* Eye for detail? -My mother-in-law has pretty much everything she wants or needs. My husband has an eye for detail-detailing cars that is. He gave his mom the gift of a car detailing. He spent about 5 hours washing, waxing and detailing her car and she was thrilled. Keep in mind that a present like this would cost over 0 at a detailing shop. If you have an eye for detailing homes (you’re good at cleaning) how about offering coupons for housekeeping services? I know come spring time, I’d love an extra pair of hands for spring cleaning.
* Baker/cook- My sister-in-law was a really busy woman with three young boys, finishing her teaching certificate and working almost full time. I gave her a gift basket full of homemade frozen cookie dough logs, homemade dry baking mixes (similar to those layered jar mixes where you just add the wet ingredients) and two bags of store bought gourmet coffees. I told her that I was giving her the gift of time with her boys. She could take one of the frozen cookie dough logs out of the freezer in the morning and put it in the fridge and then that evening, she could make a cup of coffee, make cookies with her boys and enjoy spending time with them (without the hassle of trying to follow a recipe and mix dough with three youngsters trying to “help”). She loved the gift! Think about what you can make or bake along the same lines. You could make bread dough that could be frozen and used the same way. Be creative.
* Gardeners-How about sharing saved seeds with your favorite gift-recipient? How about offering up your time during planting season? Personally, I’d love coupons offering to tend my garden when I go camping for a week. A gift basket with coupons for garden tending saved heirloom seeds, homemade row markers and a fresh set of garden gloves would be loved by any gardener!
I’ve given you just a sampling of how you can put your talents to work creating thoughtful, relatively inexpensive and practical presents for the holidays. What talents do you have? What can you do? Before you go out and buying something and spend a bunch of money, think on how you can create those thoughtful gifts first. I think you’ll find that during these tough economic times, practical, thoughtful gifts from the heart are more appreciated than ever before.
About the Author
Tammy Paquin is a work-from-home mom of 3 boys and the owner and publisher of Frugal-Families, an online resource for frugality, finances, budgeting and everything else related to stretching the dollar. For more ideas on practical, thoughtful and inexpensive gifts visit, Thoughtful, Practical and Inexpensive gifts