The end of the year is stressful enough without the unnecessary financial and commercial pressures associated with gift giving. While many families have embraced the concept of a “green” Christmas or adopted the tradition of Kris Kringle or “Secret Santa”, many of us still sruggle under a massive list of recipients.
Here are some no or low cost/handmade present ideas to help relieve some of the pressure this year.
5 delicious gifts to delight body and soul
Beg, steal or borrow a few recycled glass jars for some of the following gifts. When bottling foods and drinks always make sure they’ve been washed well in hot water (preferably in a dishwasher) to prevent unwanted bacteria.
- Marinated olives: devise your own concoction of herbs or try my favourite combo of bay leaves, garlic, peppercorns and red chili with Kalamata olives bathed in olive oil.
- Preserved lemons: Like the olives these take only minutes to prepare and look great. They’re the perfect thrifty gift is you’ve got access to a lemon tree laden with fruit (homegrown citrus always tastes the best). I use this simple recipe with salt and peppercorns. Don’t forget to nclude instructions on how to use preserved lemons and your favourite recipe.
- Salad in a pot: If you have a couple of weeks leading up to Christmas start raising some seedlings to create a salad in a pot or a mini herb garden. More tips on a growing salad in a pot.
- “Japanese washing grains”: are a simple scrub/exfoiliant popularised by a well known body product franchise. They contain only one ingredient but you need a spice, or clean coffee, grinder to prepare. The magic ingredient is raw aduki beans (small red beans available from most wholefood stores). Simple grind the beans til they are the size of fine breadcrumbs and store in an airtight jar. To use – place a teaspoon or two of grains in your hand, add some water and lightly rub your face, then rinse off. Your skin will feel clean and smooth.
- Salt Scrubs: are another simple exfoliant. You need only sea salt, oil and a few drops of essential oil. Just follow this easy recipe. Note: When it comes to essential oils you do pay for what you get but a little goes a long way (so don’t be tempted to add more than the recipe says). A few drops of rose geranium oil smells great and is at the lower end of the price range. For delicate skins avoid using citrus oils.
5 great gifts of time
Make a certificate promising your services. Stuck for ideas, then use some of these.
- Breakfast in bed: Consider a theme such as Mexican (huevos rancheros), or create a menu with all their favourite breakfast foods.
- Spring clean: Offer to clean and sort the kitchen cupboards, wash the windows or dust and vacuum the house from top to bottom.
- Skill share session: What skills do you have that you think they’d love? Spend a few hours teaching social media basics like how to set up a blog or twitter account. Or maybe baking or Bollywood dancing is your thing.
- Home spa session. You don’t need to be a beautician to share a hot Epsom salts foot bath, followed by a foot massage and pedicure. More DIY spa treatment ideas here.
- Babysitting: Even better if you promise to cook the kids dinner as well (and bathe and read a bedtime story to any little ones). For parents too exhausted to make the most of a night out – pack them a picnic and take care of the children elsewhere.
5 creative ways of sharing the love
Got some time and creative energy to burn? Get your making mojo on.
- Mixtape: Who doesn’t love a curated aural treat?
- Calendar: Personalised with your own photos, drawings, collages. Go old school creating a calendar from scratch or google a template to download. Don’t forget to circle your birthday and other important dates!
- Recipe book: A collection of recipes of the recipient’s favourite foods. You might go for a hand written or illustrated look, or create a home printed or bound version. Index card files also work well. I’ve made DIY recipe calendars as well.
- Personalised snakes and ladders: Ever wanted to give a favourite childhood game an individual twist? A simple classic like snakes and ladders is easy to make and can be personalised with inside knowledge. Or go for a political theme as there’s rarely a dull year in Canberra or State Parliament!
- Get stitching: Eco-friendly gifts that don’t take much time or skill include calico shopping bags, knitted dishcloths or whip up a simple heat pack filled with buckwheat. For more ideas the wonderful Pip, from Meet Me At Mikes, has compliled 287 links for handmade Christmas presents.
From the archives
More stress-less presents including bath bombs, bath salts, lemon cordial, oatmeal bath bags and great charities to donate to.
What are you’re favourite low cost/low stress gift ideas?
This article was originally published in 2009 and updated in December 2014 – just a reminder that for the gift of health, you can purchase a gift voucher for a Wellbeing Plan with Gill online (which can be instantly downloaded and printed).