Saturday, December 19, 2015

Living the Pantry Lifestyle - Last Minute Gifts 2015

I made these washi tape covered tea lights as gifts last year.

I wrote about this subject last year and many readers received ideas for those last minute necessary gifts.  So I thought I'd merge last year's post with some added ideas.  However, this is just as "off the top of my head" as last year so I apologize ahead of time if it is hard to follow.

I mentioned last year how people who have extra spending money may not think some items would make excellent last minute gifts for one on a tight budget.  For instance, I mentioned how I love Mrs. Meyers products but they tend to be a little pricier than the run of the mill products.

Many homemakers I know on a tight budget would love cleaning products, hand washing soap, etc. in a beautiful scent.  This year Meijers had the Christmas scents so I splurged and bought a cranberry and a pine scented dish washing liquid.  It has been so nice using them all Holiday season.  Especially for one who does dishes the old fashioned way two or three times a day.  They were each a dollar more than my usual 7th Generation dish soap but two dollars well spent.

It doesn't have to be Mrs. Meyers, any product we have to use in our everyday life would make for a great gift if packaged in a special way.  Back in the day when I could still enjoy a hot bath (a no no for diabetics), my family would gift me each year with a beautiful milk bath product.  It was a luxury that I used once a week or so, especially in cold weather.

If you have a friend on a budget that loves to cook, a nice bottle of extra virgin olive oil would be an excellent gift... or some other cooking item they would not put in their budget like a good sea salt, champagne or a real sherry vinegar, a tiny package of saffron or other spice, etc.  The website The Kitchn often has great inexpensive foody gift ideas.

Someone on a very tight budget would enjoy a package of pecans or almonds (if you know they do not have a nut allergy), real maple syrup (I like Grade B for the richer flavor), real local honey, a chunk or two of good cheese like Parmigiana-Reggiano for the Italian cook, perhaps a good coconut oil for the whole foods enthusiast... there are all kinds of items someone on a tight budget may not buy for themselves but would be easy for you to purchase as a last minute gift.

If you know they love a particular kind of food, then a basket of ingredients would be a gift they most likely would love.  Most bigger grocery stores now have various ethnic aisles but if you live in a city or in a college town like I do, there are usually smaller ethnic food stores.  I bought sumac at the Asian store in town when it wasn't even available at the gourmet shop when I needed it to make some recipes from that amazing cookbook, Jerusalem.*

Of course you know I would mention good coffee or tea.  This is the time of year most tea companies offer their Holiday blends.  Herbal tisanes (often just called herbal tea) make great gifts for those who cannot have caffeine.  Some of these teas are seasonal such as Candy Cane Lane tea.  One of my favorite gifts from a friend who "knows me well" is a box of K-cups of my favorite coffee and hot apple cider... both items I don't often add to my grocery budget.

Do you see where I am going with this?  Use your imagination and you will come up with your own ideas because you usually know the individuals you are buying for.   You probably know their likes and dislikes and hobbies and such.  Every golfer on a budget needs golf balls and tennis players love to receive tennis balls.

Just think a little bit and I am certain you can come up with an idea that is "out of the box".

I mentioned before that one of my friends has told me she wished her children would give her a subscription to her favorite magazine.  It would be far cheaper than items she didn't want or need and each month she would think of them. A wonderful gift! 

Of course, with some magazines these days, just purchasing the latest issue and slipping it into a gift bag is all that is needed to bring a smile.  I adore the Stampington & Company magazines (Artful Blogger, Where Women Cook, Where Women Create, etc.) but they all begin at around $15.00 an issue.

Their magazine called Bella Grace is beautiful and especially loved by writers and those who love journaling.  But it is $20.00!  All of these magazines and others like them are really soft covered books that can be beyond the budget of some people... but would make a fabulous last minute gift!

I'm a person who loves gift cards and I know many who are the same.  I still recall a conversation I overheard between two obviously pampered university girls complaining about getting a gift card.  My first thought was, "Honey... wait until you get in the real world!".  I know... that was snarky but I didn't say it out loud.  ;)

So if you can't think of anything for most men, a gift card for Ace, Menards, or Sears Craftsmen tools would probably be welcome.  They know exactly what screwdriver would complete their collection.  My husband can get lost in the tool department of any store.

He has also hinted to our son that gift cards to the local car wash would be absolutely wonderful.  I know someone who makes a good salary but loves to receive gift cards to places like Starbucks. 

The last two years, my son's gift to his dad was a "coupon" for tickets to a future football or basketball game at the University.  Since the coupon for a football game was given in December, it was not fulfilled until the following football season but just as appreciated.

If you know the gift recipient well and they still say they want nothing but you know they need everything (you know the type), then there are creative ways to give a gift.  I don't follow into that category for God has taught me to be a good receiver through the years (I would rather have been taught to be a good giver but that is another story).

For instance, if you have a friend or relative that has a water softener (and in our area you had better have one), then find out what kind of softener salt they use and buy a few bags.  This would be especially helpful for an elderly relative!

Do they have a dog or a cat?  Find out what kind of food or kibble the animal uses (for they do tend to like a particular kind and stick with it) and then make the gift to the animal and not the person!  Better yet... from your dog to their dog, or your cat to their cat, etc.  It is a way to help the person on a tight budget in a loving and "not in their face" manner.

Fruit baskets make wonderful gifts for families on an extremely tight budget because they probably are not getting enough fresh fruit.  But not the fancy smancy fruit that has been cut and shaped and some dipped in chocolate.  It looks lovely and it would be temporarily good but it is just that... it must all be eaten right away since it is cut.  Leave that gift for the gourmet who would absolutely love it.

Since Mr. & Mrs. Christopher have been married (3 1/2 years!), we have either given gifts that would be good in an emergency (like their camping lantern... but they do go camping, too) or simply a good flashlight for each of them.  That has actually become a tradition now and I bought their flashlights for this Christmas on clearance over the summer for less than a dollar each, a really nice brand!  Last year they were each given small LED emergency flashlights for their cars.

So if you do nothing else but purchase a small bottle of great olive oil, a nice magazine, or a bottle of a lovely scented dish soap for a friend on a tight budget, it would be a very good thing.   

Just think... what is a luxury item that doesn't cost much but you know your friend or family member on a budget cannot buy for themselves? 

Come on, use your imagination Movie tickets and a bag of caramel popcorn?  Perhaps a garden magazine and gardening gloves (pretty much still available at many stores).  An easy to grow houseplant (with caution if they have pets).  A little first aid kit or car emergency kit put together for a friend's who travels.  Cute bandages for the kid's stockings?  A coupon to shovel their sidewalk or watch their children for an evening?

There are a lot of last minute gifts available if we stop and think and it is not out of the question to ask God for His wisdom.  ;)

*Jersualem can be found... here.  (Affiliate link)  


Deb J. in Utah said...

Wow great ideas for last minute gifts. I had never thought of some of these, but they are very practical and thoughtful gifts. Thanks!

Vee said...

I am often on the prowl for a good last-minute gift and so I thank you for all the ideas I need. Have so loved the special scented dishsoaps as I do wash my dishes by hand. It's like aromatherapy. I think I'll spoil a couple more households. Oh and flashlights...always a good choice!

Deanna Rabe - Creekside Cottage Blog said...

I love all these great ideas for gifts.


Anonymous said...

Yum, I love a nice lovely smelling hand soap at my sinks. Yep, worth that little extra! I'm glad you treated yourself, we all need that from time to time! Pam (SD)

Rebecca said...

Found these suggestions really stimulating - got my creative juices going :) I totally missed the holiday-scented dish detergents! Guess I had purchased a bunch of extras a while ago and am still using them up. Didn't know they existed! ....Hmmmmm. Wonder if they'll be reduced after Christmas?????

Merry Christmas!