Welcome to our accidental annual tradition of “what do I give when I’ve got no money, no time, or neither!” We discuss gift ideas, breaking the cycle of consumerism (and pressure to keep material goods)
For food, we suggest homemade caramels, chocolate truffles (add a pinch of cayenne to make them feel warm when you eat them), and marshmallows. Make them extra cute by packaging in a second-hand cut glass bowl or decorative dish. You can also make seasoning mixes or dry rubs. For drinks, try infusing simple syrup, any alcohol, or vinegar (which make a shrub, which is delightful when mixed with sweetener and carbonated water). For the vinegar, we’d recommend apple cider vinegar, any wine vinegar, or any fruit vinegar. Plain white Heinz vinegar can be too harsh to drink.
For ephemeral gifts that are not edible: try epsom or kosher salt mixed with dried flowers or herbs to make a salt soak. Add any kind of edible oil (coconut, olive, vegetable, anything) to turn it into a salt scrub. Another option is candles, but the essential oils can be expensive to buy enough that makes the odor strong enough. Consider skipping the scents altogether to save money and avoid giving a scent people dislike. As with the edible treats, the second-hand decorative dishes, candleholders, jars or tins can be great. Another edible gift that is more of a daily home item is breath mints. If you’ve got cute fabric scraps at home, a little beeswax and pinking shears will get you homemade beeswax wraps for food! Another nice gift option if you have them at home is plants!
A more holiday-specific item is ornaments, bunting, or garlands made out of paper, fabric, felt, or fleece. Remember: if you’ve got prints that you combine in each piece, it starts to make visual sense even if the prints don’t match when you hold up the fabric in large pieces next to each other. For biodegradable aromatic garlands, try dried slices of citrus fruits, popcorn, and cranberries.
You can recall a memory: Spotify playlists, with a note about what you were doing when you heard it together, or a treat, can bring up the most loving and treasured memories for almost no money but all the love in the world. Music works to share good feelings even with people who are struggling with memory problems and dementia.
You can also pull a real elementary school special and give them a coupon for a skill you have! Can you knit, sew, do carpentry, or cook? Share it with someone who doesn’t have it.