Holiday time often means excess. From food to gifts, the pressure to purchase is all around us, whether it’s hyped in the media (Black Friday and Cyber Monday) or in the stores (who among us hasn’t been assaulted by the “Fragrance Police”?).
In the spirit of the season, the phrase “less is more” has a simplicity to it that serves two purposes: It can take some of the commercial pressure off of us to spend beyond our means – especially when most of us have limited budgets – and it can bring us back to the thought being what really counts.
Taking the time to create a caring gift that involves imagination, from its “contents” to unique wrapping, is not only heartwarming for both parties, it also lightens the giver’s wallet.
Before the shopping season full-court-press begins, some frugal ideas for gifts can include:
- Babysit for harried parents, so they can enjoy date night, or treat a “workaholic” to a coffee break to slow things down.
- Bake it! Gotten raves over a favorite savory or sweet recipe? Stack scones, cookies or homemade candy brittle in affordable clear cellophane. Tie with two-toned bakers’ string or ribbon.
- Cook dinner for a friend, or host a potluck as a group gift.
- Drink up – water, that is. Give BPA-free metal or plastic water bottles with decorative name tags.
- Invite friends to an “Eat-in Take-out Night”: Hit the dollar or craft store for Chinese food containers and “deliver” dishes you prepare!
- Make a meaningful charitable donation in someone’s name.
- Slip event tickets into festively themed envelopes (visit the scrapbooking aisle). Events don’t have to be headliner concerts; support an annual flower show or a local book signing.
Also keep in mind that between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, we create about 25 percent more trash than usual – That’s equal to roughly one million tons! Deck the halls this Christmas with an artificial tree, a potted tree (such as a topiary) that can be replanted, or simply compost your real tree later. Simplify wrapping this year with brown craft paper or scrap fabric punched up with fun ribbon treatments or stamps. And if you do purchase printed wrapping paper, choose patterns and colors that can be used for many occasions to stretch their usefulness.
“Going green” will allow you to do something good for the environment, and maybe save a little money too. Now that’s the other kind of green stuff that you can take to the bank for a rainy day!
By Lisa Miceli Feliciano