Monday, October 31, 2011

Frugal Retirement-Homemade Gift Ideas for the "Non-Crafty"

For some folks, homemade or non traditional gifts have a bad connotation.  I know that some families can pooh pooh homemade gifts (or gifts of time for example). Sometimes the problem is that we try to do home-made gifts in the same manner that we do last minute store bought gifts.  There are three traits that contribute to good homemade gifts-skill of some sort, advance planning and a little creativity.  While the first one is non essential, the second two are a requirement. Note that creativity does not equal craftiness-we are all of us creative. To that end, here are some non traditional gift ideas for the (mainly) non crafty that almost anyone would be happy to receive.

  • Homemade food specialties. I'm not just talking cookies here (though I never turned down a Christmas cookie in my life), Canned goods, your secret recipe barbecue sauce, flavored vinegars, homemade pesto. The trick with these is time and packaging. In other words, making a Christmas cover for the jar and putting it in a gift basket, or making a set of three flavors  as  a set is what makes all the difference.
  • In a similar vein, family recipes. Get a cheap Christmas scrapbook or use a binder. With the graphic alternatives available today, making beautiful pages is easy. Why make your daughter-in law beg for your killer lasagna recipe. Share it with her now. Or give an album and one or two recipes with promises for more.
  • See if you can find a reasonably priced used or classic book from someones childhood.
  • Give away your stuff. Not all of it mind you, but a family Christmas ornament or heirloom a year (assuming it's one said child or family member would really use) so that it can be used now is a wonderful gift.
  • Write down your memories for kids or grand kids. I'm not talking about a best selling biography here. I'm talking about starting some kind of journal and writing down things about you or your kids that family members may not remember.  Your kids will like it and your grand kids (if you have any) will LOVE it.
  • If you are separated by miles, make a video
  • If you are separated by miles, consider (if you have the appropriate equipment or can borrow it) recording a favorite story for a child or grandchild. They get their favorite book on CD with the added gift of your voice.
  • If you take really good pictures, scrounge a frame, spiff it up, enlarge the picture and give it as a gift. Do you know how much professional family portraits cost?
  • While this is not free, consider giving a day outing or family experience. Or do it just for the kids. A Christmas movie with all the goodies, sleigh ride, Christmas tree hunt
  • If it's reasonable priced, look for a collectible item. I collect china tea cups.  These can cost up to twenty five dollars, but they can also be found for three to ten dollars (the ones I just saw from occupied Japan). Obviously, you need to know that the individual still collects or really wants this item.
  • Burn specific Cd's. I don't like to listen to only one artist. My brother is a computer geek who knows how to download every single free music track there is (as well as video) he has given me many classic rock CD mixes of songs-often with life performances.  He's also given my son DVDs such as Jeff Beck at an Austin, Texas location-amateur video but priceless.
  • While this is not free by any means-if you live far from a family member, consider giving the gift of you-in their presence.
  • If you have a green thumb, give plants and or clippings. My father in law just looks at Orchids and they grow (in the ground, even in the winter, in north Texas).....I'm happy, to say the least, to take his offshoots.
  • Back to the food gifts again-consider an "of the month" gift.  Decorated cookie of the month, homemade soup of the month, you name it.
  • Give the gift of your time and services:  Make the coupon book look REALLY good, and make specific definite plans on the coupon book or as soon after the gift is given.  Don't promise to spend the afternoon with your daughter one on one "someday", have a time or an event in mind.  Gifts of service and skill can include: A romantic meal and/or a promise to babysit, spending the day on the floor with your granddaughter having a tea party and playing with Lego's, offering to climb up on the ladder and paint the trim on your parents house.
The trick to making these gifts a success is similar to any gifting. The gift needs to be something that will be used, loved/appreciated and/or needed. And remember, half of giving any gift is presentation, presentation, presentation. A love poem on a piece of paper is nice-in a frame you found at a yard sale and painted is a memory for all time and easily displayed.  Ice cream sauces in jars are lovely. Add some ribbon around the jars, a garage sale container and maybe some sprinkles and you have a gourmet food quality gift.

These are ideas to get you, crafty gifts for the non-crafty.

1 comment:

  1. wow I wish I had some friends/family who'd do some of those things! What would be really cool is to have someone who gardens and starts seedlings - I dont' like buying whole packets of seeds since I dont have the space plus my thumb isn't green - it would be awesome for someone to give me a 'coupon' for some veggies in the spring - a nice assortment of tomoatoes, peppers - if someone were already doing this for themselves it wouldn't really cost much of anything to put aside a plant from different varieties for gifts!
    a friend gave me homemade lemon curd one year and it was awesome - of course I was trying to eat well but I only used a bit every so often til it was gone and enjoyed every bit of it.
    family cookbooks would be nice - I still don't know the family recipe for dressing - never really liked the stuff but would be something sentimental I might want someday. my mom's already passed and I'll never know for sure her biscuit recipe(it couldn't be written down exactly anyways due to 'eyeballing it'..sigh..)one year my parents took the old reel family movies and sent them off to be put on vhs - about 10 yrs later my brother had them copied to dvd. I don't watch them a lot but I cherish having them.
    I'd also suggest copying family photos - esp older ones - one of these days the kids in those will want the sames ones LOL!too bad we didn't know back then that they'd stick :-(

    great ideas!


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