I still remember the first time I was old enough to realize that my mom was signing cards with my name. Birthday cards, Christmas cards. . .she was signing our whole family’s list of names to the bottom of each card without asking anyone.
Naturally my dad was happy to have this chore taken off his shoulders, but my sensitive little self felt as if we were lying to the people. Or else, “they’ll see your handwriting and they’ll know I didn’t care enough to sign it myself! You have to let me sign every card!”
I know. . .drama much? What can I say, I was ten.
But as you can imagine, this mindset has made Christmas gift-giving a little difficult for me to get my head around as an adult. After all, my budget is tight. I can’t afford to give everyone something that tells them exactly how I feel about them – even though I want to.
But there are thrifty, yet thoughtful ways, to give whole-hearted gifts to the people we want to show our appreciation to.
Make them thoughtful
- Pause first and think about the groups of people in your life. Is there a group of you who read and chat about books? Give everyone a personalized set of bookmarks or book plates that you’ve made just for them. Write a special note on one just to tell that person why they’re special to you. Are there coffee lovers? Make little coffee lovers’ bags with a small bag of coffee (divide up a large one into cute handmade paper containers) a cute stirrer and a dollar store mug. Are there several neighbors or friends from church you trade favors with? Give them a book of coupons for help babysitting, dog sitting, or carpet shampooing. Even if not everyone in this group knows each other, you know them because of a shared interest, and you can still streamline their gifts by making several similar ones at once. A gift doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive to say that you know who the person is and care about them.
- Look for useful things. Some of my favorite Christmas gifts, from candles to cookie mixes, have been things that are used up 6 months later. And I love that. It means I don’t have another useless item in my already cluttered home. Instead I got to have a relaxing bath soak after decluttering my house all day, while sipping homemade hot chocolate from a gift basket.
- Make it personal. My favorite handmade Christmas gift was one I made last year. It was an ornate-useful! It goes on the tree! And wherever possible, I put a picture of the friend I was giving it to and me on it. This brought to mind a happy memory for me as I made them – and for them as they opened them. Here’s a tutorial for Recycled Christmas Tree Ornaments:
Recycled Christmas Tree Ornaments
- Find branches from a broken Christmas tree or old garland at a yard sale, thrift store, or in your own basement.
- Use pliers or wire cutters to cut two-inch strips of tree bough apart. Cut two pieces per ornament.
- Collect pictures of you having fun this year with each person you want to give an ornament to. If you don’t have a good picture of both of you, or haven’t seen a particular friend in a while, use an old picture or use your Christmas card picture and make this a chance to update them on your life this year. Use photo editing software to make these pictures into 1 inch circles and then print them on photo or regular paper.
- Use a hot glue gun to glue the ends of the boughs together. OPTIONAL: At this point spray the boughs with spray adhesive and then sprinkle with glitter.
- With the hot glue gun, affix the pictures you’ve collected to the spot where the tiny tree boughs cross, covering the hot glue from connecting them.
- Cut lengths of ribbon or lace and tie bows to glue behind the branch/photo ensemble. If it is a fabric lace, use a mixture of school glue and water to paint it and stiffen it after it’s been tied into a bow. OPTIONAL: you can also glue a loop of ribbon or a store bought metal or plastic hanger to the back for easy hanging