Wednesday, December 8, 2010

the poor girl's guide to gift giving {works for boys too!}

here it is, in today's economy, most of us are probably pretty poor. the reality is that the ole holiday classic "it's the most wonderful time of the year," should be changed to "it's the most stressful, financially difficult time of the year." i'm sure, we're all aware of how commercialized the season has become. what happened to the days when kids got a peppermint candy, a penny, and a calico dress?

okay, so i don't think we should revert to prairie times, but i do think we should slow down for a minute, remember that the most important thing is creating memories and loving people, and stop feeling like we need to spend a lot of money in order to make someone else happy.

so here are my suggestions for giving from your heart this holiday season, not your bank account:

there are so many yummy treats you could make with ingredients you already have, or can pick up on the cheap at the grocery store. cookies are always good, or if you want to get more creative, the interweb is a goldmine of great treat ideas. in the past {and for our wedding} i did mulling sachets, hot chocolate on a stick, and pies in a jar {although this is more dangerous if you're shipping your gifts}. the ideas out there are endless, and with the right packaging, you could whip up some pretty fun gifts in your own kitchen!

good deeds
has your partner, roommate, friend or family member been complaining about something they need to get done or fixed, but just never has the time? devote your energy to doing it for them. it's usually not a fun task, which will make it all the more meaningful for your loved one ~ a truly selfless act that captures the holiday season.

i can only knit squares and rectangles, but that's all you really need in order to make some great scarves as gifts. i have also made fingerless gloves by knitting a rectangle with a thumb hole, then sewed the seams together. for those of you who are actual knitters, you may be thinking, "oh kim, that is pretty ghetto. you should be ashamed of yourself." but honestly, it works for those of us who aren't great knitters, and still looks cute, feels warm, and gets tons of compliments {of course if you are a good knitter, doing a fancy version is good too}. you can also knit fun coffee cozies for the coffee lover in your life by knitting a rectangle with button hole and a cute button!

draw something
are you an artist? that's fine, you don't need to be a paid artist ~ we are all creative! so try creating some original art as gifts. this could be making a print to be framed, a series of cute cards {thank you cards, postcards, or any kind of cards} for your loved ones to send out, bookmarks, or a funny comic book full of real life stories you share {slightly exaggerated, of course}.

some handpicked wildflowers in a pretty recycled wine bottle {or any other type of pretty bottle you already own} is a really dreamy gift! a friend once did this for my birthday and it brightened my days for the following couple weeks. i love fresh flowers!

is it time to renew a great magazine that you already subscribe to? this time of year, most magazines are offering free subscriptions as a gift when you renew your own. since it probably won't start coming until january, you can buy the current magazine with a card proclaiming what you've given them!

remember the days when you performed johnny be good in your livingroom, complete with hairbrush and complicated dance routine, forcing your entire family to watch? or was that just me? well there is a more adult version that most of your partners would be psyched about. remember this commercial ladies?
of course it can be a little more innocent than that too. one year i secretly learned how to play a sweet love song on the mandolin and sang it for the mister on christmas. he loved it!

we all have refrigerators, and they're probably all full of those gross advertisement magnets, because hey, we need to post things! but a refrigerator can be an awesome canvas for putting something pretty. you can use those old magnets as the backing for art, a photo, cards, all sorts of things! sarah sent me some awesome vintage playing cards that spelled out joy. i slapped some magnets on the back and viola! refrigerator cuteness! you can also make bubble magnets super easily with just a few craft supplies and this great tutorial.

make a book
a lot of people i know have all sorts of great photos from their life, or big trips, just stuffed away in clunky boxes or in a computer folder. if you have access to them, compile the photos into an organized and pretty album, using some artistic flair. they'll be protected for years to come and make great coffee table books full of memories!

make something else
there is really no shortage of ideas and tutorials for making your own gifts on the interweb. i've listed a few here, but spend some time online and i'm sure you'll come up with dozens of other great ideas for each person on your list.

so that's what i've come up with. have any more ideas?

ps - yesterday on a little blue, jenna posted ten gift ideas that give back. go check it out for more ways to make the world a better place while you shop! and if you missed it, check out my previous post on raven + lily for the same sorts of ideas!


  1. Oh Kim!!!! Great & brilliant ideas!!!!! I am doing some handmade headbands as you can see in my posts,that is all I can think of..hehehe.. well, I really don't have much time left. I would definitely applying some of your ideas Kim!!! Great! Great!!

  2. Such a perfect gift guide! As the movie Little Women would say- Necessity is the mother of invention.

  3. KIM! I love all these ideas! Actually, I love this post in general. This Christmas, I find myself unable to actually buy anyone expensive gifts... so I thought about baking cookie boxes for my friends... but I love all the wonderful ideas you posted. Now, I'm going to have to rethink the cookie idea and incorporate some of these lovely ones you shared!

  4. Fantastic ideas, Kim. I don't have much money this year, so it's definitely treats and good deeds for me! I just hope no one is disappointed (I particularly worry about my mom -- Christmas is all about giving things for her, even though she won't always admit that).

  5. great! thanks for this guide, Kim! :) currently listing holiday treats, this is helpful!

  6. These are such great ideas Kim. Ugh I wish the economy would hurry up and get better!

  7. These are wonderful ideas! I love photography, so have done a few gifts with pictures that I've taken. I'm also making earrings, and doing treat/goodie baskets! :).

  8. Love it. I was just thinking about making gifts the Christmas. Can't wait to use some of your idea.

  9. these ideas are FABULOUS!!!! and I can't even stand how much I love the pie in the jar... I'm about to explode from cuteness overload :)

  10. As I’ve gotten older I’ve become more frustrated about how Christmas has been turned into this monstrosity of gift giving and Santa Clause. For a lot of people it’s a very stressful time of year because they feel pressured into the expectations of giving gifts.

    For me it’s Jesus’ Birthday. All gifts should go to him. In his glory.

    When it’s my birthday, then you can pour on the presents and celebration.

    When it’s my birthday, then you can pour on the presents and celebration.

    At least that's how I wish it was.

    I give gifts though. But nothing that ever puts me over the edge or in debt. I find that most people understand if you are unable to give a gift. If you get one, great, if you don’t great.

    I like your list of suggestions. Creative and more personable I think.

  11. Awesome list, with some really fun ideas! I love giving personal gifts, like memory books or creative photos. They always make great gifts AND memories!

  12. These are some really great ideas! One of my favourite Christmases was one where I was mostly out of work (just doing some substitute teaching, and it was sporadic) so I made all my presents. I actually learned how to use a skill saw and made some sweet little wooden tree ornaments!

    Thanks for all these wonderful suggestions, Kim. You're awesome. And I loved that reference to Little House on the Prairie. I think Mary and Laura got tin cups that year, too!

  13. i love your ideas! i'm making personalized mini-journals to adorn each gift with. i think handmade just makes it extra special!

  14. So many fun ideas! One that I have done a few times (especially for parents, grandparents, etc) is get a double-photo frame and take a picture of me and that person years ago (adorable old baby pictures are the best for this), and then put a recent photo next to it. Always brings on the happy tears. When I would feel particularly ambitious, I would get the picture frame from Dollar Tree and then just craft the heck out of it (modpodge plus ribbons and brass washers was one of my best).

    All in all, hooray for all the creative gift ideas you shared!