Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas on a Fixed Income-Gifts From the Heart

A while back, I wrote about the advantage of including some homemade gifts into your Christmas plans.

However, so called “crafty” gifts are just one kind of alternative gift giving. Many alternative gifts require more thought than money, and are welcomed by the recipient. Even if you’ve purchased all of your gifts and are not worried about the money factor, these alternatives create memories. They also give you an opening for so called add on gifts in future years. And for the most part, they don’t involve a huge accumulation of stuff or a misuse of resources. Most of these could be done now for this Christmas, a few may be ideas to jump start next year. A couple appeared on my homemade gift article previously, but apply here as well. At least one is a so called “store bought gift” that is made through alternate means:

• Bequeath a family heirloom to a child or grandchild now, along with a note about how the item was acquired, be it from a family member on a trip or another source. As a matter of fact, do this each year. Why wait to pass on family heirlooms?

• Type a one page letter or story about a family experience that may or not may be remembered by your children or grandchildren. If you feel the need include a small photo. If desired, put it into a journal or sale scrapbook and add another story each season or celebration.

• If you or someone close to you has heirloom photos, copy one and give it to a family member, with a promise to frame it.

• Offer an experience to a grandchild. This may be a day spent making cookies together, going to their favorite place or simply sitting at the tea party table or playing Legos on the floor.

• If you have unshared family recipes, start sharing, use the computer to print out attractive pages with clip art.

• If you’re a cook, promise someone a gift of the month, be it homemade soup, bread, or cookies.

• If you have grandchildren nearby, offer to take the kids for 24 hours, not when mom and dad have an obligation, but when they have no plans and can simply be alone in their own home. While it’s nice to go out, most women at least would rather be in their own homes alone for 24 hours.

• If someone has a collection that you know they will keep in the coming years, search yard sales and thrift stores to add to that collection. One of the things I keep is a tea cup and saucer collection from my grandmother. I am thrilled to get new cups and saucers at any time. Approach this carefully, and make sure the person truly loves the collection.

• If you have a skill that your children or friends do not have, offer to do a specific thing that you know will either not get done or they will have to pay for otherwise. I cannot climb a ladder or even a stepstool because of an injured knee. A family member offering to come and drill and do those things I cannot reach for half a day is a wonderful gift.

• If you know that there is a food that someone loves but doesn’t buy themselves because they think it is to luxurious, get a small amount of that food for them. Alternatively, buy a few things and make a Hickory Farms style basket at half the price.

• Christmas is a religious holiday. Celebrating the twelve days of Christmas (from Christmas Day to 6 January) not only reminds us of that, it’s also a way to extend the holiday for some. Give a spouse, child or family member a small gift each day, ala Advent season. As a matter of fact, if you have an artificial tree, consider leaving your decorations up through the complete Christmas season.

These ideas are just a starting point, but you get the idea. Many of these gifts can be done in half a day. Christmas is not just about giving gifts, is also about creating memories and celebrating a birth. Hopefully some of these suggestions will resonate with you during these last weeks.

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