If you haven’t been affected by the recent financial crisis, then you know someone close to you who has been. This year, find ways to give to those you care about while still being sensitive to their situation and making sure you aren’t stretching your own comfort zone.
The financial crisis can actually be a gift to all of us by bringing us back to the true spirit of giving. Here is a list of gift ideas to help you and yours appreciate the blessings and forget about the losses of the past year:
1. Give something that is special to you. Give a belonging you no longer wear or use that a friend has admired or you know would enjoy—a piece of jewelry, a scarf, a vase, etc. Make sure to include a note as to why you wanted that person to enjoy the next life of the article. It’s also a great way to send a green message to reuse items we are simply storing, giving them new life without the need to manufacture more consumer products.
2. Write a poem, story, letter, or list for a dear friend or family member that expresses what they mean to you. Use a fountain pen, write it on nice paper, and tie with a beautiful ribbon. There is no greater gift than the kind words that those who know us best have to say about us. Your friend will draw from those words for years to come when they are in need of encouragement.
3. Make a donation in a loved one’s name to an organization that you know they care about (or would care about). Give them a card that simply reads, “A donation has been made in your honor” to such and such. They won’t ask how much you gave; they will just be touched that you know them so well.
4. Make a deal with close friends that for one year you will give each other the gift of taking away the pressure of giving gifts. Get together for a casual dinner or drinks and enjoy each others’ friendship—the greatest gift of all.
5. Bake treats and package them in cute take-away paper boxes. Decorate, or have your children decorate them, with stamps, glitter, drawings, and messages of peace.
6. Draw names or play a game of “white elephant” among a close circle of friends so that you aren’t all buying multiple gifts, especially if you have children and are in a play group.
7. Take digital photos throughout the year and give the gift of a special memory by framing your favorite photo of your friend, family member, or just something beautiful.
8. Give a plant. It’s totally reasonable, will last for a long time, and is great for the environment. Say it’s your way to go green!
9. Create a coupon book. Try a new take on the idea: “Go on a date and leave the kids with us,” “A shoulder to cry on,” “Coffee and a walk together,” etc.
10. Create a cookbook from your favorite recipes or from friends/family recipes. Include stories or words of wisdom to make it more meaningful.
11. Gather up your unused gift cards and use them to purchase gifts for others.
12. Check out the bargain book section, buy a few, and wrap with a ribbon. Or buy several copies of a book that has touched you and give it to all of your friends as your personal message for the year.
13. Give a “Tea for Two” friendship gift. Two cups, a favorite tea, and a note that you want to schedule tea for the two of you at least once a month (even if you are long distance and on the phone—or better yet, on Skype).
14. Give a set of stationary with a message about staying in touch more. It is always fun to receive beautiful note cards and very reasonable at about fifteen dollars per set at your local card shop.
15. Use airline miles to send someone on a vacation or on a trip to come visit you.
16. Purchase a subscription to a magazine that will bring joy throughout the year. Many are buy one, get one free. You can get two gifts for the price of one, or treat yourself and a friend and share your thoughts about the articles each month.
17. Make a keepsake birthday box for the coming year. Decorate with the year and your friends’ photo and make it a place for them to store special memories—ticket stubs, plane tickets, photos, invitations, etc.
18. Look for treasures at local flea markets and consignment stores.
19. Give the gift of balance. Get a mat (at Walgreen’s for as low as $1.99), include meditation cards, a scented candle or incense, a balancing tea, and a printed list of the chakra’s and what they each mean.
20. Put together a book of “A Few of My Favorite Things” for friends. Include your favorite recipes, your favorite tips, the best advice you ever got, your favorite joke, etc., and include a page about your friend and your favorite things about them.