So the holiday season is upon us and many people are trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah without breaking the bank. (See my follow-up post with discount codes here). Here are a few ideas:
Donations: I know some people think this sucks but I think it’s a great idea. I find a charity that matches something the person likes. For example, one year I had a vegan crunchy boss and a boss who was very involved in local literacy efforts. I made a small ($10-20) donation in their names to an animal rescue organization and a local school literacy program, respectively, and printed the receipts on card stock. The amount wasn’t shown so for all they knew it could have been way more. I went to World Market and bought some neat but relatively inexpensive wine, punched a hole in the corner of the card stock and tied it with a ribbon to the bottle’s neck. CNN has some excellent tips for charitable holiday giving. You could also get a bag of gourmet pasta and sauce and attach this $7 utensil holder (sits on the side of the pot) from Sur La Table. A lot of the nicer household goods stores have inexpensive but seriously functional items to throw in a gift basket. Container Store is a good one for fun, inexpensive desk items, too. What about a bunch of travel-size items or travel-size containers for the colleague who travels a lot? Or find a magazine a whole group loves and agree to subscribe to an office copy for the lunchroom. Or everyone brings in a used book to start an office library. We used an old closet with shelves to do ours at once place I worked.
One donation idea: make a donation in their name to CARE to help empower women worldwide. Right now they have a matching gift program going on.
In the past year, CARE’s work reached 65 million people in 71 countries. Thanks to donors like you, poor families got the resources they needed to send their children to school, combat the spread of HIV/AIDS, learn new business skills and build a better life for themselves. CARE also delivered emergency aid to survivors of war and natural disasters, and helped people rebuild their lives.
If you have talented family members, how about swapping lessons in something? The guitar player could offer guitar lessons, the masseuse massages, the CPA basic budgeting, the knitter could teach others her craft. Hold Christmas reunions AFTER Christmas to take advantage of post-holiday discounts. Another great idea is to make cute photo ornaments. I have done this twice. Once I went to Oriental Trading, got some cute and seriously cheap ornament picture frames and put my son’s picture in and gave those. The other time I picked up some super-cheap ornament picture frames and put an anniversary picture of my recently deceased grandparents in and gave one to each of my cousins. It was a hit. You could also do a photo collage of the family or hand out something baked with a $1 or $5 lottery scratchoff attached. My grandparents’ favorite gift one year was a memory jar. We all wrote our favorite memories of them and stuck them in a large jar for them to pull out whenever they wanted to remember. You could also do a family recipe book where you ask every family member to bring their favorite family recipe and then you compile them in a book or printout to send to all. Here’s a cute idea for your kids to make for grandparents or other family members using old CDs. Another twist on the Memory Jar idea is word cloud art. Create a personalized word cloud at Wordle.net using all sorts of words to describe them. Wordle lets you customize layout and then you can print it in color and stick it in an inexpensive frame.
Oriental Trading again. One year I got a dozen really cute gauze stocking ornaments for like $6. They were the perfect size for a few pieces of really nice chocolate, a candy cane and, of course, a gift card to iTunes, Target, or somewhere else they liked. You can also get a few small brown gift bags and have your kid use stamps or markers to decorate them and then do the same thing.
Homemade clay, bottles of bubbles, or a collage of fun family photos for the wall in their room. Homemade coupons for things like 1/2 hour bike riding with Dad or one game of Monopoly. What about getting a puzzle for you all to do on Christmas Day? Or get discount Christmas movies and spend the day having a movie marathon on the couch (you can even borrow DVDs from the library or get used copies at your local used bookstore)?
Your Best Friend:
Send her a Babeland gift certificate because, really, every girl should have a Sasi or a Gigi (now on sale for $50 less than I paid!) or, if your best friend is a man, apparently the Fleshlight is pretty cool. Or homemade coupons for a night out on the town, a manicure (performed by you, of course), a back rub, a night of babysitting his/her kid(s) or a weekend of petsitting. Blockbuster gift certificates and gourmet popcorn. A single mom t-shirt!
If you’re looking to spice things up, how about the “Movie” Starter Kit or even the Sexy Getaway Kit from Babeland. Great way to sample a few things without spending a ton. Coupons for massages, movie nights, chores, etc., are also awesome — just be willing to actually perform the task when they’re handed over! Homemade picture albums or memory-type items are always great keepsakes, especially if you write a little about each picture. My friend finds an activity her very busy husband likes and tells him to go do that every two weeks on a Saturday or a weeknight, guilt free. He likes that gift. Then there’s always O’My products to make downtown adventures (for either of you) even more exciting. Or the Liberator Wedge to help save his back and yours.