Most memorable gifts often homemade

When we recall Christmas past, we usually find that the simplest things — not the great occasions — give off the greatest glow of happiness.

— Bob Hope

Everyone has their own idea about the best way to manage the holidays.

Some love the hustle and bustle, the big gatherings, the expensive gift budgets and Christmas music booming out of the speakers. Others prefer to keep things small, quiet, debt free, relaxed and minimal.

Holiday goals should include spending time or getting in touch with people who bring laughter and happiness to our lives. It is a time to show gratitude and touch the hearts of those who are important. Taking the time to call a special friend or family member can make the holidays complete.

Years ago, TEAM had a contest that allowed readers to share their most memorable gifts. The responses showed that often the most touching gifts were not extravagant.

I shared one of my most memorable gifts, a story from my grandmother that I still cherish today.

She loved to read bedtime tales and when I was young, a favourite was Mr. Tidy and Mr. Untidy. It was a story about two elves who lived together but had different ways of thinking. They learn to compromise and accept each other’s point of view. What a great life lesson she taught me.

The Christmas after I had my first child, she gave me a photocopy of the story, all done up on red paper. I cherish it and the lesson it teaches during the busy and emotional times that can surround the holidays.

Gift giving tips

Make a list to avoid impulse buying.Remember to compare prices and realize that holiday sales can be a lot of marketing and not a lot of saving.

Ask about the refund policy and keep all receipts. Stores are not obligated to give refunds or to allow exchanges, so find out in advance.

Gift giving can be difficult at times, especially for those who you want to recognize but do not know well, such as teachers, neighbours, bus drivers and coworkers.

Here are some ideas for the impossibles on your list:

The gift of relaxation: A gift certificate at a spa or at a salon is not something we often spend our own money on, but most of us would truly appreciate the pampering.

My favourite things basket: Fill a small basket with all the essentials for great hand care such as files, cuticle oils and a new colour of environmentally friendly polish. It could also be your standby products for hair care, such as a hair serum, shampoo-conditioner and an ouch-less brush that has made our home life less tearful.

Perhaps you have discovered a bath or skin care product that is delightful. Read the labels and try some of the products that are sodium lauryl sulfate and paraben free.

Before giving to others, check out the website www.ewg.org to ensure that the products are user friendly.

Cozy clothing: Try a gift that will warm those around you, such as a cozy all-cotton sleep or lounge wear, new gloves or a beautiful scarf.

Gift cards: This option allows the recipient to do their own shopping and buy something that appeals to them. Of course, an alternative to the gift card is cash. This option is not thoughtless but rather an opportunity for those you love to choose their own indulgences.

Food treats: This can include a homemade treat that you want to share with others, or it can be a collection of pantry staples to make the snack-filled holidays just a bit more tasty. It can be as simple as giving your favourite chocolates or a special beverage.

It can be an opportunity to share healthy alternatives that you have discovered over the past year. Spry Gum sweetened with all natural xylitol and Zevia carbonated beverages would be great stocking stuffers for those who are trying to be healthful in their eating habits.

Protein is a must when it comes to immunity. For the health conscious on your list fill a basket with some whey protein isolate (vanilla), chia seed and/or flax seed and a recipe for a healthy smoothie that could incorporate all of these preventive ingredients.

For example:

  • 1 /4 c. frozen strawberries 60 mL
  • 1 / 4 c. frozen blueberries 60 mL
  • 1 large ripe banana
  • 2 c. orange juice 500 mL
  • 2 tbsp. chia seeds or flax seeds 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. protein powder 25 mL
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil or oil of your choice 15 mL

Place the fruit and juice in a blender. Top with the powder and seeds. Cover and 
blend until fairly smooth.
 Note: flax seed and chia seed are available at local grocery stores or health food stores.

That captured moment: Photos of special times are fun to share, and can be a treasure when done up in a beautiful frame or printed in a calendar. Online ordering makes it a simple option, but photo printers are also available at many local stores.

The gift that keeps giving : A subscription to a magazine or newspaper is often something that people don’t buy themselves. It is a way to put your gratitude into their homes each time a new publication comes out. A favourite book to share is always welcome under the tree.

Notable on my shelves this year are The Carb Sensitivity Program by Dr. Natasha Turner and Ecoholic Body and Ecoholic Home, both by Adria Vasil.

Who has the time: Giving the gift of time can really make a difference. Promissory notes or vouchers for child care, cleaning, snow removal, a shopping trip or lunch on the town are all great options.

From our home to yours: My daughter is 10 and loves projects to keep busy. She has made me a beautiful table centrepiece from inexpensive items.

A clear glass vase filled with sparkling artificial crystals and a battery operated candle is just what the holiday table needs. We see a little smile filled with accomplishment each time the candle is switched on. She intended on making more to give to others as gifts.

We have also experimented with making bath salts for the soakers in our lives.

Simply mix one cup (250 mL) of epsom salts with 1/2 cup (125 mL) of baking soda and 10 drops of either lavender (relaxing), lime (refreshing), orange (awakening), lemon (detoxifying) or jasmine (soothing) essential oil. Just a few tablespoons in the warm bath and your troubles will drift away.

Apply the mixture directly to your feet or hands, scrub and rinse and you will be smooth and exfoliated. You can also make healthy air freshener sprays out of the same oils.

Just mix water and 10 to 20 drops of oil in a clean spray bottle and mist away. Lime oil is a favourite at our house.

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: [email protected]

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact: [email protected]

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