As a one income family, this time of year can be a bit of a stretch. But that’s nothing new – it was a stretch when we had an extra salary coming in, a stretch before we had kids (somehow) and even a stretch before we really knew the flipping meaning of ‘a stretch’.
It’s got me thinking though about those ‘gesture’ gifts, and whether people would really like a pair of socks, a novelty bit of tat – or something much more thoughtful.
I can tell you my favourite Christmas present of all time. It was from my Mum, a few years ago, and was a beautiful surprise on Christmas Day. We’d been chatting some weeks before about childhood memories and I mentioned Nanny’s old button tin. It was a round vintage quality street tin, filled with toggles, silver, black, red, gold even mother of pearl buttons. There was the odd coin, brooch, medal and a wooden Angel in there too. I used to play with it as a child, and can still remember each one, how they felt and which were my favourites. Mum couldn’t remember where the tin could possibly be, and the conversation moved on. Until Christmas Day, as I opened that tin again, thirty years older with tears in my eyes and my heart about to burst with nostalgia.
Needless to say the buttons are now busy being planted into a new generation of memories.
So with that little story in mind, here’s a few ideas to make someone’s Christmas extra special (and save you some pennies to boot).
T I M E
This is one that can be gifted in loads of ways. To someone with children, the obvious is a babysitting token. Print it out, offer an actual date, just make sure it happens! A great way to do this is to offer to have someone’s kids for a few hours before Christmas – when we are all drowning in doing, I promise it I’ll make someone’s day.
For someone elderly, they really don’t want or need more stuff – they want companionship, so offer to bring them to your home for a meal, and give them something to look forward to.
For a sister, or girl friend, a similar approach but with the promise of pampering, prosecco and quality time is a really special way to build on bonds that have been neglected. Send the fellas off to the pub and engage in some proper girl time.
M E M O R I E S
Im channeling my Mums amazing button tin gift idea here. Do you have a long forgotten treasure that a parent, a sibling or a child would be overjoyed to be reunited with? As a total hoarder I have some special bits squirrelled away – drawings by my baby siblings, toys, old photographs, favourite books.
This year I’ve bought my daughter a book that was one of my favourites as a child – I found it on amazon for 15 quid, then when I excitedly reported to Mum what I’d found, she told me my original copy was up in her attic. Lesson. Learnt.
Another one up my sleeve is a toy dog bought on a drunken girly weekend years ago which I’m desperate to pass on to my friends baby boy…I just need to convince Tigs first which is proving tricky.
L O V E
Having gone full circle thanks to the digital era, we have regressed to a time when a hard printed photo has become somewhat precious again. For relatives you normally whatsapp, e mail or text images of your kids, why don’t you print out some special shots, pop them in a bargain frame and gift them to family you know will really appreciate them. You can pick up prints and frames for under a few pounds so although not exactly free, it’s cheap as chips.
S M I L E S
For the significant other in your life, how about a gift that keeps on giving. Make a list of all the things you would like to do together in 2017, or brainstorm a hundred indoor date ideas to start the new year as you mean to go on. Write them on sticks, or on pebbles and display them in a jar. A beautiful thoughtful gift that will go down a storm on Christmas day and for many more days to come.
E F F O R T
You have kids, therefore there has never been a better time to pull off some hand crafted crap. I mean, it may even turn out pretty nice? Flower pots, plates, mugs, cards, tree decorations or frames. Hand prints turned into funny faces, finger prints turned into smudgy animals, or just their squiggles. Carefully select he right paint for the right job, supervise, and seal afterwards. Voila. I’ll be doing this one for the teachers for sure.
Be creative, be frugal, may your cockles be warmed by their reactions. It really is all about the giving, so enjoy.