whether you’re a card-carrying member of the fabled 1% or not, you don’t have to spend a lot of money for presents this holiday season. you know that, right? we can’t keep spending money we don’t have. what you may not know or may not have thought about: when you give from your deepest creative self, you not only save money, you gift your self and the lucky recipient. it’s just one of those magical inexplicables – like writing every day doesn’t deplete your word pantry, in fact, just the opposite: the more you write, the more you have to write.
allow me to introduce the personal shopper member of the committee that is me. she loves to conjure fun, one-of-a-kind, inexpensive gifts . . .
write love letters. give the recipient a tour of the real estate they own in your heart. don’t hold back – this is the gift that will keep on giving. every time they read it – and they’ll read it often cause they’ll keep it forever – will be a gift.
my grandmother canned food in green glass ball jars. she sweated in a hot kitchen all summer so we could eat well all winter. find an old jar and fill it with pieces of paper containing words that come to mind when you think of this person. trust me: they’ll feast year-round.
get a t-shirt, pajamas, scarf or any other wearable and grab some fabric markers then decorate the clothing with story kindling and punch lines of favorite memories.
know their shoe size? buy them a pair of plain white sneakers and decorate them with colorful words and phrases of love to lighten their step.
fill a blank journal with favorite quotes – yours and theirs.
do you owe someone an apology? write it out, attach it to a blackboard eraser, and deliver it.
cut a snowflake from folded paper and turn it into a gift by writing “like a snowflake, you’re one of a kind” or something similar that would melt a real frosty.
cut out words from magazines and instead of creating a ransom letter, create a you-are-special letter.
create a calendar of compliments by noting compliments in a calendar.
get your camera out and find things containing letters of the alphabet needed to spell out words that describe the recipient. (for example, the end of a swingset resembles a capital A – that kind of thing.) (have fun with this – remember: you can rotate and crop.)
use your computer or camera to record your favorite stories about the recipient. ask others to participate by sharing their favorite story, then compile them into one album of love.
scan photos of the recipient and drop the digitized version into a document containing the story about the photo. OR keep the digitized copy for yourself and glue the original into an empty journal, penning the photo particulars (who, left to right; where; what they were/are doing; and any other details you can remember) to create a special album of memories.
do a little research on your computer and create a year-in-review book of things that are of interest to the giftee.
for loved ones, commit family legends to paper (digital or otherwise). add photos and maybe even genealogical information to create a family tree album.
fill a jar with questions written on slip of paper – things like “tell me about your childhood pets” and “tell me about your first job” and “what stories do you remember about your parents” and “of all the things you’ve done, what are you most proud of” and “tell me about your hobbies.” around the lid to the jar, tie ribbons on which is written several dates throughout the year when you’ll get together and listen to their answers to the questions you’ll draw from the jar. (oh, and you’ll probably want to take a tape recorder on those listening dates, too.)
have something you plan to leave them in your will? go ahead and give it to them. they’ll get to enjoy it longer, and you won’t have to dust it. oh, and be sure to include the provenance, telling where you obtained the item, how and when you used it, maybe even how much you paid for it – things that will tell the story about the item.
personally, i hate to cook, but i have it on good authority that not every is like that, so gather recipes and create a cookbook. have a section of perennial favorites and a section of new recipes for those who love adventure in the kitchen.
keep ’em warm and stylish: embellish an inexpensive scarf or wrap with words of love and mirth using needle and thread.
give them a bib, a fork and a calendar with particular dates circled and tell ’em not to make plans on those nights cause those are date nights when you’re cooking for them.