I’ve tried to choose things with a range of difficulty, so that there are suggestions for beginners and experts. Click on the links to find the recipes. Also, photo credits (from above) belong to the sites where I found the recipes. Here goes:
6: (simple) Cranberry Cake. Not the easiest thing to wrap … but I couldn’t help including it cause it’s so, well, amazing!
5: (simple) Maple Herb Roasted Almonds. Enough said.
4: (not too difficult) Peanut Butter and Honey Granola. Tasty and hearty on those cold (or not so cold) mornings (or pretty much any time of day).
3: (difficult) Chocolate Toffee Matzo Candy. Mmmm. Yummy.
2: (difficult) Apple Chutney. Serve it with chicken (as shown) or for a wonderful addition to pork chops or pork roast. And what a great gift!
1: (simple) Jars of Yummy Goodness. If you don’t have the time to actually bake or cook or can something this year. Consider creating a mix in a jar for your gift recipients. There is an ENORMOUS list of mixes available (click on the link above), so you can choose what suits your needs best.
Tomorrow: 5 Crafts to Make
See you then.
8: Send Christmas cards over the internet. They sing, they dance, they have a million different themes! Some are free. Some companies charge per card sent. Other companies offer their services for a monthly or yearly fee. Investigate to see what might be the best choice for you.
7: Make homemade cards. Yes, this is a lot more work than the store-bought kind. But it can also save you money, and it is a greener choice. Use card-stock with a family photo on the front; or make collages from old Christmas cards or calendars; or use the artwork of your little ones to adorn your cards. In whatever way you design your cards, they are a more thoughtful way to greet friends and loved ones this holiday season.
6: Give thoughtful gifts of time, services, or assistance this holiday season. Give a coupon for a car-wash, baby-sitting services, or something else that would brighten their day.
5: If you are part of a large (or even medium-size) extended family that gives Christmas gifts every year … it might be time to consider having a name exchange instead of expecting everyone to buy gifts for everyone else. Have everyone draw a name from the hat and get a Christmas gift for that person. My extended family did this with great enjoyment for a number of years. Although, in addition to buying gifts for the name we drew, each family also bought gifts for all the little ones, so they would have more treasures to open.
4: When I’m invited to a gift exchange, the host or hostess almost always says something like, “Bring a gift of about $10 for the gift exchange.” Why can’t we suggest (or request) a similar limit at our large family gatherings. My extended family on one side had a $15 maximum spending limit for our gift exchange for as long as I can remember. Since we also exchanged names, it meant that we had a wonderful and enjoyable afternoon of opening presents by the Christmas tree at my grandmother’s house … and no one had to spend more than $15 to participate.
3: Don’t buy more decorations. Or, at least, don’t buy new ones. Shop for gently used or vintage Christmas decorations at estate sales, rummage sales or flea markets. Check with older relatives and see if they have decorations that they have replaced and are no longer using. (They’ll be as delighted to clean out the attic or basement as you are to take and use their older treasures.) You can even make handmade Christmas decorations with anything from edible goodies to evergreen branches you cut out of your own yard. Let your imagination get to work and see what you come up with … at little or no cost!
2: Make a list and check it twice. When you go out to make the inevitable holiday purchases, plan ahead. Make a list of people you need to buy for, write down a few notes and ideas for things you might want to get them, and list a FIRM budget for each gift. Most importantly, when you actually start shopping, don’t be derailed by all of the wonderful sales. It’s great to find a gift for someone on your list at a bargain price; but, too often, we find wonderful sale prices on things we want for ourselves. Stick to the gift list!
1: Give edible gifts. You can make baked goods in fairly large quantities, then mix and match a few different ones to create a tin of Christmas goodness. Or make a big batch of jam or jelly; one batch will be enough for quite a few people on your list.
Tomorrow: 7 Wraps for Gifties
See you then.
9: Stainless steel water bottle or reusable / travel coffee mug. Not only are these reasonably-priced gifts, they’re also a green gifts!
8: Make or buy a fleece lap blanket. Choose fleece that has colors or patterns that are reflective of the recipient.
7: Make a Gratitude Jar. The jar itself can either be something artistic – as one that is pottery or ceramic – or can be something as simple as a Mason jar like those used in canning. Decorate with ribbon, fabric, beads, or anything that will make the jar reflective of the personality of the recipient. Inside the jar, place small slips of paper: on each one hand-write an example of those things for which you are grateful about the recipient or those things of which you are appreciative about the person to whom you are giving the gift. Don’t forget: the more specific your gratitude statements are, the more thoughtful the gift.
6: Shop at home stores for bargains on cloth placemats or cloth napkins with napkin rings. Usually, the out-of-season patterns can be found quite inexpensively. If you sew, you can make the placemats or napkins. Depending on your crafting skill, you could even make the napkin rings.
5: Give a nice plant to the green thumb on your list. For those who don’t have much skill in growing things, consider giving a no-fuss plant like a cactus or an aloe plant. For the sustainable-living folks on your list, consider some bamboo.
4: Got a guy on your list? Get him a multi-tool. The price will vary based on the number of tools, but they are usually in the $10-$15 range.
3: For the gardener on your list, investigate heirloom and rare seeds at SeedSavers.org
2: Food gifts are always a winner. Consider cookies, candy, cheese balls, or dips. Deliver them a day or two before Christmas, so your recipient can share them when family and friends gather.
1: If the recipient collects something specific, or has a specific interest, consider getting a Christmas ornament that reflects their interest.
Tomorrow: 8 Ways to Save
See you then.