Saturday, December 06, 2014

Pantry Lifestyle - When You Have Nothing to Give

This post is from a few years ago but I had a lot of comments and e-mails from readers who said it sparked their imagination for gift giving on a very limited budget.  Mine is even more limited now since we have to pay insurance premiums.

In our materialistic society, we most often think we have to make a purchase to give or the gift is will not be appreciated. Actually, I have found that not to be true in most cases. Yes, there are those around who may not appreciate fresh baked cookies but let's be honest... do you want those people as friends? So they are family and you are stuck with them... pray for their materialism and offer them a cookie, anyway. They may learn someday.

Here are some ways I've learned to be a giver, even with a very limited income...

When I do have "extra" cash, I stock the pantry (shelves, frig, deep freeze) with simple items which... when mixed together... create magic (Narnia magic). Isn't it absolutely remarkable the number of recipes which can be made from: eggs, butter, milk or cream, various sugars, flour, flavor extracts, nuts, dried fruit, yeast, etc.?

Throughout the year I'm always looking for inexpensive containers, suitable for giving gifts of baked goods. For instance, last year I hit a clearance sale at Wal Mart and purchased a couple dozen pretty red trays for a dime each. I gave many of them to Stephanie as a gift since she often takes baked goods to people.

When I can get a good deal on fresh fruits, I like to "can" jellies and jams. People love these.

A blog friend sent me honey and homemade soap from her farm... LOVED it!

Other gifts I give with little or no money:

Books from the book sales or purchased with Amazon credit.
Items purchased at garage sales and while thrifting that I know people would love.
A pretty mug or teacup from my own collection with a box of favorite tea or hot chocolate.
A basket filled with a favorite snack (like puppy chow... yum) made "from scratch".

I used to make teddy bears, angels, small quilts, and other sewn items.
My first gift to my husband (before he was my husband) was a crocheted scarf... which he still has. :)
I've given a gift of recipe cards written with favorite family recipes.
My daughter received a "cookbook" from our good friend for a wedding gift that she had written with their favorite recipes... all printed from her computer.

Stuff to do as gifts

Offer to babysit the kiddies.
Sit with an elderly or ill person so their caregiver can get relief.
Read to someone who can't read for themselves... young or old.
Offer to scrub a floor or paint a room.
Trim bushes and trees for someone who can no longer get around easily.

Put up a Christmas tree for a friend who is not handy about such things.
Share extra decorations with a friend who has none.
Hang the Christmas lights for the elderly neighbor who can no longer hang them.

Write letters to people who would love to hear from you.
Send a pretty card to an elderly relative or friend.
Give forgiveness to someone who needs to hear those words.

Listen to a teenager, really listen.
Ask an elderly relative to share family history and write it down.
Collect family recipes and type them into the computer... give copies to loved ones.

Encourage your children to draw pictures for Grandma and Grandpa... and send them.

If you have a green thumb, take starts from your flowers (in season) and start them in your home, give to a neighbor or family member when they are ready.

Yes, it takes creative thinking but you can give... even if it a prayer.


Annabel said...

I love this post! It is so true. Some basic ingredients have many possibilities. Like the miracle of eggs and lemons making lemon butter. Flour and butter making shortbread. Wonderful gifts from such simple and inexpensive components!
When some money comes in stocking the pantry has to be one of the wisest things to do.
I wish we were neighbours! xx

sherry said...

Heartfelt excellent advice.

Vee said...

Time for some creative thinking here! Thanks for the many suggestions.

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

Really good ideas, Brenda!

Homemade cocoa mix in a recycled jar is a fun gift too, especially for a family with kids!


Anonymous said...

This is such a wonderful post and truly captures the important essence of the season - acutally these ideas are appropriate all year (in my opinion).

Nanna Chel said...

Such great and practical ideas, Brenda. The TV ads and the store catalogues have it all wrong, don't they? Let's get back to the simplicity of what Christmas was like when I was growing up in the 1950s. Handmade gifts were appreciated and were the norm and Christmas wasn't all about gifts anyway. It was all about the greatest gift of all.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great suggestions. Many older people don't really want any more knick knacks but it's harder for them to bake Christmas goodies.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes we over look the simple and beautiful for the expensive and the flashy.

Anonymous said...

Thank You for this very moving post.

This line in particular is very touching:

In our materialistic society, we most often think we have to make a purchase to give or the gift is will not be appreciated.

Times of changed...something changed to take us away from our values.

Its lovely to be reminded of what matters...ty

Mrs. Kelley Dibble said...

This is truly exceptional and wise advice. Your ideas are worth their weight in... Pound Cake Cookies topped with Alabama Surprise Pecan halves.

I'll be your newest follower.

Hugs and Merry Christmas,