The holiday spirit of giving and sharing is the true meaning of the season. In spite of all the commercialism, hype and marketing that encourages us to show our love and appreciation for those around us by spending our very last dime and borrowing against our future flow of dimes to create a memorable holiday experience, Christmas, while it is about the giving, is not about the gift.
Creative gift giving has always been in vogue, but it takes on a heightened significance during strained economic times. Limited finances don’t have to mean limited gift giving. With a little thought and imagination, this holiday season can be one of the most memorable ever for those on your gift list.
Every gift doesn’t come wrapped in a pretty box with an enormous bow on top. Some come straight from the heart and are too large in terms of their thoughtfulness to be contained in a box of any size.
This holiday season, throw another potato in the pot, buy the largest turkey on sale and invite an extra friend or family member to share a meal with you and your family. (http://www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/family/11/07/cl.family.meals/) On heavy stock, type up one of your prized family recipes for your guests to take home and recreate a fine meal in their own homes.
For a gift that gives all year long, make up a supply of coupons to be redeemed for services in the coming year (yard work, grocery shopping, child or elderly parent care for a couple of hours).
For a low cost gift to share at the office, consider passing out lottery tickets (http://www.oddee.com/item_95629.aspx ). Your cost per person will be quite low while excitement runs high as your co-workers eagerly await their chance to be the next millionaire.
If you share common interests with a group of people, consider a book exchange for your gift giving. Each member of the group passes along a book they have already enjoyed and anxiously awaits the “new” book they will receive from someone else in the exchange.
Low cost practical gifts are great favorites as well. A book of postage stamps or a basket of assorted canned fruits and vegetables will delight the recipient who can avoid making these mundane but necessary purchases for themselves.
Along the same line, share the produce from last summer’s garden. (http://www.lowescreativeideas.com/idea-library/articles/Vegetable_Gardens_0908.aspx) Homemade tomato sauce, pickles or preserves from your strawberry patch will be enjoyed and appreciated.
If your professional life provides a service for a fee, consider giving a free service to those near and dear to your heart. If you’re a beautician, give haircuts for Christmas; an accountant can give a no cost tax return; a carpenter can give five hours of home repairs to Uncle Joe who can no longer repair the deck himself.
Organize a group or family activity for the holidays. Make a party out of going sled riding (http://boldt.us/people/kids/sled_riding_at_grandpas.html ). You provide hot chocolate, cookies and finger sandwiches at the end of the event.
If you have an artistic or athletic skill that is the envy of all who know you, consider giving the gift of teaching what you know. Can you knit? (http://www.knittinghelp.com/) Build bird houses? Play beach volleyball like a pro? Someone on your gift list may love to receive the gift of your expertise.
The gift of time is the most valuable gift of all. Visit the people you care about during the holidays and take an interest in their lives. Be sure to carry this gift through to the new year.