I hope my American friends had a good Thanksgiving holiday. Ours was wonderful, in part thanks to a long time good friend who blessed me with extra funds before the Holiday. She made it possible to go from a good meal to a feast. :)
Once again we had our son's family around the table and my daughter-in-law's parents. We thoroughly enjoyed seeing Piper (now 3 1/2) and Oliver (who is now 1 years old and just started crawling!). One of our desserts was pumpkin bars, in which were placed three candles and became a belated birthday cake for my son's 30th birthday. (How did that happen?)
Once again, I'm offering up a blog post that you have said is a pre-Christmas favorite. I need to read it again every year. This list came from the years when we had little or no extra funds available at all.
In our materialistic society, we most often think we have to make a purchase to give or the gift 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, one year I hit an after Christmas clearance sale at Wal Mart and purchased a couple dozen pretty red trays for a dime each.
When I can get a good deal on fresh fruits, I like to "can" jellies and jams. People love these. A blog friend once sent me honey and homemade soap from her farm... I 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 mix.
- 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.
- Look through your digital photos and fine one or two or three you know someone would love, get them printed... don't worry about a frame... just give hard copies of photos so a loved one will have them available.
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. No... especially your prayers. How wonderful it is to know there is someone in this sometimes scary world that is praying for you.
So this year, let us get our mind off of Black Friday and Cyber Monday and too much credit card debt. Give from the heart... and don't ever think you have nothing to give. ;)
Note: I love the Christmas Jam recipe that originally came from Country Woman Magazine... here.
Pumpkin bar recipe... here.
Image: Artist Lisi-Martin (I have this print hanging in my dining area)