Start with good cardstock and envelopes, and use your imagination for decorating ideas—try stamps, stencils, bits of lace, ribbon, or glitter. This is a fun project to do with kids. Let them use paint, stamps, crayons, markers, potato prints—you name it—on heavy paper, cut their art out and mount on folded cardstock. Package the note cards and envelopes in an attractive box for the recipient. Including a book of stamps is a nice touch.
With easy to use computer programs, nearly anyone can create pretty stationery. Select a design and font to suit the personality of the recipient, leave plenty of writing space, and make up the stationery on nice paper with matching envelopes. Present the stationery in a decorated box or tied with a ribbon.
Homemade food and mixes are especially great gifts for people on your list that already have everything, and most people love receiving them! All you need are the ingredients, containers, and a little time and effort. And don't forget, the kids can help you in the kitchen!
Cookies, hot chocolate, cider, pizza dough mix, muffin mix, bread mix, and soup mixes are all wonderful in Mason jars. Label your jars with the needed recipes and be sure to mention the mixes are made with love.
Jams, jellies, mustards, and vinegars are fun to package in interesting bottles and jars. There's no need to buy anything expensive—try yard sales, thrift shops, or even your basement for neat containers. Tie a ribbon or raffia on your gift and include a recipe if you'd like.
The Cookie Jar That Won't Stay Empty
This is a wonderful gift that keeps on giving and is particularly nice for an elderly or disabled person, someone who lives alone, or perhaps a relative or close friend who has trouble finding the way around the kitchen. Give a cookie jar filled with cookies, muffins, peanut brittle, or another favorite treat. Include a note letting this person know that you'll be happy to refill the jar once a month (or however often you choose). What a special present for an older relative or friend—not only do they get the yummy treats you'll bring, but they also get the joy of your visit.
Perhaps the Most Valuable Gift of All
Your time is the most valuable gift of all. Something none of us seems to have enough of, and something everyone wants from us. Give time as a gift! Shovel the driveway for your neighbor, baby sit for some friends that need a night away from the kids, offer your computer help to someone just learning to "boot up," or clean the basement for your parents! And don't neglect your mate and your children. Why not make them personalized books of gift certificates? For kids, try certificates redeemable for one night of game playing, a dinner of their choice, movie night with you, a trip to the zoo, and even extra hugs and kisses if you want. As for certificates for your spouse, well, we'll leave those up to your imagination!
With a little thought and effort, you can give special gifts to those you love that won't break your bank. And remember during all the hustle of the holidays, it helps to focus on the actual meaning of the season. Christmas and Hanukkah are not about who has the most holiday lights on the house, who's got the fanciest menorah on the block, or who gets the most toys under the tree. Get past the commercialism and take time with your children to teach the true reason behind your family's celebrations; this is a wonderful opportunity to give them an appreciation for their own spirituality, their own family ties and traditions, and the blessings in their lives. Even when times are tough, you can make the holidays special and give your children memories to cherish for a lifetime.