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Holidays on a Shoestring

Since we are are feeling some of the ramifications of this blasted economy, I thought it might be a good time to suggest some holiday ideas that are affordable to just about all of us. Many of my more talented friends “make” gifts. That’s always a nice touch. Unfortunately, not all of us are able to whip up the pound of perfect chocolate brownies, or knit that wonderful pair of socks, plus supplies, ingredients and packaging cost money!

Since it seems to be the season to purchase and mail cards, I thought it might be a good place to start saving. By all means, go to a card shop, but take your relative and or friend with you. You can each select the perfect greeting cards for each other. Rather than purchasing the cards, spend the time looking at and reading what your partner has selected for you. This can provide you with hours of fun and not cost a dime. Plus, you won’t be limited by the “extra postage required” stuff, or the pesky address lookups. Also, you can afford to select as many cards as you want for that person, and it won’t cost either of you a damned dime! Quality time together! Priceless!

Another way to make this work is to buy the cards, but don’t address or sign them. That way the recipient can simply use the card to send to someone else. If this is a special someone, include a stamp. What a lovely idea! And generous as well.

Go through your drawers and pull out anything you really ought to get rid of. Look at each individual article and decide if you know anyone who might like it. If the answer is no, put it back because we tend to keep that kind of “stuff”. But in a lot of cases the answer may be “Yes! I know who would love this!” Your sister may really appreciate that cracked china cup that says “Welcome to Vancouver”! And your brother-in-law may have had his eye on the “I heart NY” key chain for some time! For your trendy niece, that Lady Godiva wig you bought for the costume party in 1979 might be just the thing. If you happen to have an automatic hot dog cooker, think about giving it to the gadget queen friend, unless you are still using it yourself! Ditto for the automatic egg poacher. You know a domestic goddess friend who would love it!
There are also the forty-eight cans of mandarin oranges that you bought on an impulse at Costco! You know and I know we can never use forty-eight cans of mandarin oranges before the expiration date and they are just taking up space. Wrap a nice bow around them and voila! Instant gift!

For your more technically inclined friends, look through your husband’s drawers. He’s got stuff in there that he doesn’t even know exists anymore. You won’t know what it is, but if it looks like a “gizmo,” give it to your nerdy friend. Your husband will never notice it’s gone and your friend would be too ashamed to say that he or she doesn’t know what it is.

I also think most folks would appreciate the thoughtful gift of a homemade fetish bag. Grab some old teeth, (human or animal), put in some hair and fingernail clippings, (either your own or your pets, or your neighbor’s pets), bird feathers, a little dirt or grass, and add a dollop of clove or ginger. Get an old sheet (floral or print preferably) and cut it into small squares. Wrap your bundles and seal them with a rubber band. Act mysterious when you gift your friend with the fetish bag. They will be astounded and delighted most probably. Do not give this gift to your very religious friends, as they may be offended. For that matter, just offer to pray for those people as your gift to them.

Who doesn’t love music and poetry? Write a song or a poem for your friend and sing or read it for them. This can be done over the telephone or in person, depending on convenience. “Oh my girl Jill is quite a pill, I love her still,” or “My friend Dylan needs penicillin because he’s illin.” You get the idea. It can be as romantic and as personal as you wish to make it.

We all know it’s better to give than to receive. But just to cover all the bases, I suggest that you “register” for gifts at several of your favorite stores. Be sure to send out an email notification of where you are registered to anyone who might be inclined to buy you a gift. Ho Ho Ho!