December 2, 2016

How my Grandma taught me to Gift with Love—& 15 Ways to do the Same.

author's own (Lindsay Butler)

I will never forget one of my last Christmases with my grandma.

She had given me a small box carefully wrapped up (which in itself was a gift, because I’m pretty sure her arthritis made it painful to wrap anything).

I pulled off the wrapping paper like it was sacred. Her blue eyes shined and her dimpled smile overtook her deeply wrinkled face as she watched me. Under the paper was a small black jewelry box.

I opened it in wonder.

Inside was a small ring woven with gold and silver and set with a tiny diamond. The band was worn through at the back.

“It was my engagement ring,” she said, smiling and crying.

I knew this was probably one of her most treasured belongings. I knew how poor they were when they first got married—and it was a beautiful, enduring marriage up until my grandpa died. I have treasured that ring ever since.

Most of my favorite gifts I received from my grandmothers have been re-gifted: an antique tea kettle, a plate, silverware, an oil lamp, a step-stool (the irony of me having it when I’m 5’10” is not lost on me). I reflect on the thought my grandmas put behind these gifts (which typically came with a story) as I move forward with the holiday season.

Like them, I find that one of the biggest struggles of the holidays is trying to find a considerate gift while staying on budget. Personally, I prefer personal homemade and local gifts, because the effort and time as part of the gift.

To me, these mean more than the usual chain-bought gifts. Here are my top 15 simple, inexpensive gifts:

1. Handmade soaps. There are a lot of great shops out there. My personal favorites are HookedSoap and Ludic Soap, but there are countless fantastic soapmakers out there.

2. Candles. For an extra personal touch, sometimes I stamp the candle.

3. Hand-dipped pencils. My kids love these in their stockings.

4. Baked goods. There’s nothing like a delicious loaf of bread, cookies or brownies to show we care.

5. Homemade coasters. I’ve made these several times and they’re always a hit!

6. Subway art picture.

7. A potted plant.

8. A journal. For writer friends.

9. Homemade headbands.

10. Gift card to a favorite shop, tailored to their interests.

11. A mug with hot chocolate or teas inside. For an extra personal touch, sometimes I draw on the mug with a sharpie.

12. A DVD and popcorn. I know I’ve seen a lot of the older movies in bins for five dollars.

13. A scarf and/or hat.

14. Painted glasses.

15. Homemade dog biscuits. For pooch pals.

Regardless of what I get my family and friends, I try remember the spirit of love and giving behind it and  hope that the season is less about stuff and more about expressions of love.


For more last-minute homemade gift inspiration, check out this article, the elephant journal mindful market, or this gorgeous gift guide.


Author: Lindsay Lock

Image: Author’s Own; eren/flickr

Editor: Toby Israel


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