Christmas is two weeks away. If your Christmas shopping isn’t finished, it’s time to face a few uncomfortable realities.
Reality number one: One of the biggest stressors surrounding Christmas in North America is the pressure of giving gifts. While I l-o-v-e giving gifts, I’m not so in love with the craziness and elevated expectations surrounding Christmas gift-giving. Simple and stress do not mesh.
Reality number two: Christmas gift-giving can be downright expensive. You may have noticed that America is in a bit of an economic downturn right now. (That’s a rose-colored view of reality.) With so many families barely (if at all) managing to hold onto their homes, it makes no sense to be spending food money or December’s mortgage payment on Christmas presents. No sense!
Reality number three: If you’re reading this, you are either my mother (Hi, Mom!), or you have yet to complete your Christmas shopping. That means you have no time to make all those great crafts you pinned on Pinterest, no time to find the perfect gift, and no time to get it all ordered, wrapped, and shipped before the big day.
Reality number four: Santa…well, let’s just say he doesn’t always come through.
With those four harsh realities in mind, let your expectations go!
It’s time to think simple.
Let’s look at some easy Christmas gift ideas that will relieve your holiday stress, take the strain off your wallet, and leave you with valuable time to focus on your littles or hubby who really don’t want to spend the next two weeks shopping.
10 Easy Christmas Gift Ideas
Food – There are many, many food options, and The Simple Homemaker the people on your gift list would be delighted to receive any of them. Fill a date night or care basket with spaghetti, a jar of sauce, some breadsticks, parm, and cookies; give it to a couple or non-cooking adult. Bake bread, cookies, brownies, snack mix, or whatever your specialty is, package them attractively and affordably (try these gorgeous upcycled gift canisters), and distribute to everyone on your list. If you make it a tradition, you don’t have to rethink every year. My godmother always gave each of her many nieces and nephews a can of nuts—we loved that we had something to unwrap and didn’t have to share! My mother’s cookie platters are the stuff of legend. My children often give Daddy the store-bought treats he loves but doesn’t often get during the year, because the poor dear is stuck with our homemade goodies. (Insert violins of sympathy.) He enjoys the clutter-free gifts, and we like that he shares. Wait until after Christmas to get food gift packs like Hickory Farms for ridiculously low prices. Check out these simple and cute, albeit charmingly corny, ideas.
Charity – Rather than spending money on more stuff, make a donation to a charity in that person’s name. A few of our favorites are World Vision, Heifer International, and Compassion International. For a few years in a row, one of my daughters asked for a donation of chicks to be made in her name. We have more fun selecting a goat or ducklings to make life-altering changes to a needy family and community than we do buying another toy that will soon be forgotten.
Practical – You can kill two partridges in a pear tree with one stone by filling your children’s stockings with practical items. If the budget allows, make the gifted necessities a little more exciting than normal by, say, bumping up to the superman undies, handmade soap, or the musical toothbrush. (Those are really annoying, so think twice about that one.) People on a fixed budget often appreciate practical gifts as well.
Personal – Give something the recipient loves that has a shared sentimental value. My daughter, for example, gave her younger brother one of her toys that he always liked and played with when they played together. It is now his favorite and goes everywhere with him. Another great idea comes from my sister-in-law. We always share recipes that don’t make anyone gag, so one year she wrote all her favorites on recipe cards, organized them in a fun box, and gave it to me. My children and I love going through it, even though we’ve read and used them dozens of times already. Treasured family recipes work as well. Pictures are always great, and they do not need to be in a fancy scrapbook to have value.
Freecycle or used gifts – Don’t be afraid to give something that costs nothing. My children love getting a box of used books or piano music. While they get excited over the occasional new book as well, the price of the used books allows me to go all out on that little indulgence. Don’t neglect Freecycle.org either. Last year I was given about $100 worth of Legos for free. After I bleached out the cigarette smell and bought a nice container, it was MORE than gift-worthy!
Time together later – Plan a lunch date, afternoon tea, or outing together. It does not have to be expensive. One of my favorite life memories is watching Anne of Green Gables with my grandmother at her farm while savoring Grandpa’s roast beef sandwiches and purple grapes for the first time in my life. I was 16. No purchased gift can replace that memory, especially now that we live 2000 miles apart.
Letters – One year we stamped 52 envelopes and addressed them to my grandparents. Each contained a piece of stationery or small card. We then photographed them all spread out and sent the picture to my grandparents. Their gift that year was a letter a week from our home to theirs. Postcards work also.
Family Gift – Rather than buying for each person in another family, give one gift for the whole family. If there are a lot of families in your extended family, consider drawing family names so you can each focus on one family. Some favorites we have given or received in the past include magazine subscriptions, zoo or museum passes, fun activities like this ice cream ball, group games like Freeze Up or Bucket Blast, and this great book full of fun games, Hopscotch, Hangman, Hot Potato and Ha Ha Ha.
Ebooks and audio – Save on shipping by buying electronic downloads and delivering them via email. Naturally, you want to ensure your recipient is tech-savvy first. Some ideas include real food ebooks for the health conscious, healthy desserts for the sweets lover, or an early gift of a family Advent activity book. Find free music or purchase song downloads (such as these) to create an individualized CD. Consider books or other audio downloads, including downloadable homeschool resources for the often-strapped-for-cash homeschool families on your list. Use librivox.org to put some of your favorite (free) audio books on a CD.
Tradition – Simplify the decision-making process by giving a gift that represents a collection or tradition followed each year. For example, my mother gives us a couple pieces of a nativity scene every Christmas. It is one of the gifts we most look forward to. An ornament that represents an event from the past year is another great idea that many families practice.
What are your easy Christmas gift ideas?
TSHM Very Merry Disclosure Statement: Some of these links are my personal affiliate links. (Some of the links are not affiliate links; they’re just really cool.) What does that mean? If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase from the site, I will receive a small commission. For my family, that means homeschool books…even at Christmastime. You are by no means obligated to make a purchase through my links, but it does merry up our holidays a bit when you do.
Linked to Weekend Whatever at Your Thriving Family.