I was flipping through a mail-order catalog the other day, and realizing that there really were things in there that I’d like to have. Rather than making a Christmas list out of them, I decided to get out all of my catalogs and magazines and make a collage, so that I could see all of these items on one page at the same time. The kids soon joined me to make their own collages (great Thanksgiving weekend activity, parents!). Here’s a sampling of things that I’d really like to have.
Home Organization: The Shoe Tree and the Coat Tree
If you saw my house, you’d know that this is a no-brainer. We always have shoes and coats scattered throughout the house. Yes, we have a closet, but I suspect that a handy coat tree would make us more likely to hang coats up — especially the kids, who can’t quite manage a hanger. Amazon has a child-size coat tree for $26.99, as well as adult-sized coat trees for only $14.99.
The shoe tree in my collage is actually a rotating shoe rack that holds 18 pairs of shoes (uh oh, we might have too many already!). It’s $24.99 from Amazon. My husband claims we’d never use it anyway, while I’m certain that it would solve all our problems!
For the Kitchen: Fruit Holder and Turkey Lifter. Oh, and a Blender
Actually, I have too many things in the kitchen already, and they’re not all getting used. But these two items really would help out. The first is a fruit holder, which combines a fruit basket and a banana hook. Our current system involves putting fruit either on a pantry shelf or on top of the refrigerator, where it may or may not go bad. This, I hope, would keep fruit from spoiling as quickly, and would keep the fruit in front of our eyes so that we’re more likely to eat it. It’s available from Amazon for $9.98.
The turkey lifter looks useful, but I’m suddenly wondering how much use it would get. It’s a silicone sling that sits beneath the turkey (or chicken, or roast) while it cooks, and has handles so that you can lift it up to transfer the turkey out of the roasting pan and onto a platter. I do struggle with moving those large pieces of poultry or meat, so I definitely like the idea. The silicone turkey lifter is $9.95 from Amazon.
Finally, I have to admit that I do not own a blender. I would like to own a blender! It just hasn’t been a spending priority, and somehow I always forget to mention it when someone asks me what I would like for a gift. So yes, I would like a blender, please! Just the basic, $19.99 type is fine. I’d love to make smoothies and puree things.
Just for Me: Scarves and the Bike
I really don’t know how to accessorize, so for the most part, I simply don’t. But while I was making my collage, I did see a number of pretty scarves, and thought maybe I could handle some of those. They do seem to add a certain something to other people’s outfits. However, a look at Fashion Scarves and Shawls makes me think I also need a fashion advisor in order to choose the right scarf!
And now, the bike. This is the number one, most wanted item on my list, although it’s more likely an item that I’ll be saving for rather than a Christmas gift. This year I started bike commuting, and I’m using a junky old bike that I got for $20 on Craigslist. It works, but needs a fair amount of work to keep it going. I’m also interested in moving to more and more bike and less and less car, so I want something good that I can use to carry family members and groceries and stuff.
Enter the Xtracycle. Xtracycle makes conversion kits that can turn almost any bike into a longtail bike that is able to carry passengers and cargo more easily than a standard bike. A local bicycle shop, Clever Cycles, builds and sells these converted cycles. I’ve got my eye on the Electra Townie 7D bicycle, to be converted to an Xtracycle.
And Now, the Reality Check
Have you heard? The economy sucks. We don’t have a lot of money anyway, which isn’t necessarily related to the economy, but there it is. This is likely to be a lean Christmas for many people. That isn’t a bad thing! Sure, it’s nice to give and get gifts at Christmastime, but there are ways to do this more sustainably, too. Let’s look at my list again.
The Shoe Tree and Coat Tree
I found this handy article on Simple Ways to Make a Coat Rack. It involves screwing together a few pieces of wood and adding hooks. I’d have to cost-compare to see if I really would save money, but it’s a possibility. A well-built coat tree might actually last longer than a cheaply purchased one, too.
I might be able to build a shoe tree, too, but really, we could stand to get rid of a few pairs of shoes. And then, what we did once upon a time was place a small bookshelf near the door to hold shoes. If we cut back on shoes, we could probably pull this off, and the problem would be solved.
The Kitchen Stuff
No, I can’t really make those things. But they could possibly be purchased used, or they could be purchased from small, local businesses, which is actually better for the economy.
Scarves and Bikes
Well, obviously scarves can be made! I’ve received some lovely knitted scarves before. I’m sure thrift stores have a supply of these accessories as well.
And the bike — like I said, I expect that I’ll be saving for this one, or waiting for my tax refund. I’ll keep my eye out for a used bike, too, but nice bikes like this are harder to find than a Huffy or Schwinn.
Gifts are great, but more and more I’m seeing that we don’t need to buy shiny new gifts each year. Let’s keep it simple, and be grateful for what we have.