Things that are hand-made have a special significance. Along with the items themselves, they carry a message of thoughtfulness and care, which is what gift-giving is really all about:
- Recipe Book: Gather favourite recipes from your friends and family, and put them together into a recipe book. By adding photos, drawings or a line or two about each contributor, you can make the book even more personal. Binding can be as simple as a three-ring binder. Or you can use heavier card stock to make front and back covers, and finish the book with cerlox or coil binding available at a print shop or quick copy centre.
- Edibles: Baking will always be appreciated, especially if it contains chocolate! Home-baked holiday goodies are a tasty gift. Cookies, fudge, jam, relish, pasta sauce - things that are literally consumable will be well received at any time of year. And who wouldn't appreciate a pan of lasagne, a pot of stew or a favourite casserole? One thing - if you are doing munchable gifts, make sure you know the tastes (and allergies, if any) of the recipients.
- Plant Cuttings: Cuttings from plants that you have around your home make for a great personal gift. Look in second-hand stores for unique containers like teapots, mugs and bowls to use as planters. Alternatively, a package of seeds will be a pleasant reminder of friendship during next year's gardening season.
- Arts and Crafts: Use your time and skills to make something unique. For example: Make a wooden toy, paint a watercolour, personalize a towel. Decorate photo frames, T-shirts, candles or a container for pens. Knit a scarf, crochet a hat, sew potholders. Make book ends, a storage box or letter holder. Make an ornament, a sock monkey, a hemp necklace, table centrepiece or wreath.
Giving an item an extra life helps reduce our use of new resources. And as any antique-hunter can tell you, browsing through vintage shops, consignment stores and goodwill outlets looking for treasures can be a lot of fun!
- Books, Music and Movies: Find newer releases at a fraction of the cost, or go for time-tested and familiar classics.
- Clothing: Comfy sweaters, flashy silk scarves, or a funky hat or bag ... with a bit of effort, you're bound to find a new favourite.
- Housewares and More: Thrift shops can be an ideal place to find a wide range of unique items in very serviceable condition - vases, platters, trays, fancy cups, candleholders, and much else. Or you might run across a musical instrument, garden tools, cross-country skis, binoculars, art supplies or retro-style furniture!
Giving a gift of service requires the use of little or no natural resources. Whether you buy a gift certificate from a professional, or give a coupon offering your own time, it will be a welcome treat.
- Time: Instead of giving a physical thing, invite family and neighbours to a seasonal-themed party. Have a pot luck dinner. Sing songs, play games, tell stories. Make people the focus of your holiday time.
- Services: Creating coupons that offer free babysitting or housecleaning, snow shovelling, a neck massage or a special treat can mean more than a stocking stuffer.
- Skill-sharing/Lessons: Music, cooking, languages, pottery, knitting, sewing, yoga, home-repair, bike maintenance.
Consider giving a gift that will keep on giving... to the environment. Check out some of these items which will save energy, resources and money. Your friends and the environment will thank you!
- LED Night Lights: They provide the right amount of light, run cool, and use a fraction of the electricity that conventional incandescent bulbs use.
- Stapleless Stapler: It's a small piece of office equipment that attaches pages to each other without using any staples.
- Wind-Up Radio or Flashlight: You never need to replace the battery! A hand crank provides the power.
- Solar-Powered Battery Charger: Uses freely available sunlight to re-charge batteries.
Good luck creating your sustainable holiday, and have fun! We wish all of you a wonderful, peaceful season. And remember that the best gift is to be grateful for those we love and to tell them we love them – Happy Holidays from the YNC!