“‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free, ’tis a gift to come down where we ought to be.”
These favorite lyrics of mine often haunt my heart during the holiday season. True, it is a time for gift giving, for us to remember those we love with tokens of affection. However, if we are not careful it can instead quickly become a time of overconsumption, overspending, overeating and overextending. When January finally rolls around, we exhaustively dig ourselves out of self-made holes to right our own behavior.
Does this mean we should drop the time-honored tradition of the giving of gifts at Christmastime? Of course not! However, this year lends the perfect opportunity for you to bless others with simple and yet meaningful gifts that will be treasured all year long. Perhaps some of the following ideas will springboard your thinking to presents of simplicity.
A recipe for love
Both of my grandmothers were amazing in the kitchen. One was a phenomenal baker and each year created and decorated my birthday cakes with loving care. The other spent decades as a school cafeteria cook. Teachers, students and administrators alike still drool when recounting her homemade yeast rolls, made from scratch noodles, apple dumplings and no-bake cookies. I am so blessed to have several of their handwritten recipes on original cards.
One year, I made enlarged copies of their time honored favorites (Peanut Butter Fudge and Holiday Apple Salad) and then framed them myself for my mother. This might be an easy and thoughtful gift for someone you love, too. Choose a recipe that has most if not all of the handwriting on the front of the card so the recipient could use it practically, too. In an age of internet recipes, it’s a joy to have handwriting of those you live in a visible spot. When selecting a frame, keep your specific dimension in mind and if possible buy a multipack to cut down on expense.
Every family has pieces of sacred history scattered through their home. The jewelry you were wearing on your proudest of days, a gift from your grandfather who is no longer living, mementos from first dates and childhood well-loved objects. Maybe this is the year you pass along a piece of your heritage to someone you love. Think carefully about the recipient, taking into consideration their passions and space in their home.
A shared experience
Time spent together is truly the best gift. Choose someone on your list to invest in this year. Perhaps you’ll take in a holiday classic film or maybe you’ll bake Christmas cookies to give to others — yet another fabulous low cost, high meaning gift. You could serve together, or you could simply enjoy a hot cup of coffee and few moments of quiet conversation. The experience of pausing in community is a gift in and of itself.
Gifts of symbolism
It might not be in your budget to fund a friend or family member’s lifelong dream but you can still honor that deep personal pursuit. If he or she has longed to become an author buy a lovely fountain pen. If travel is a dream, a passport cover might be the perfect way to show how much you care. From the gift of a compass for a hiker who longs to trek the Grand Canyon or business cards for a budding entrepreneur who longs to start their own business, you don’t need much money to give a gift with great impact. No, you may not have the money to open every door necessary but even the simplest item shows your belief in their talent and aspiration, which is the real gift you would be giving.
Written with love
In an age of texting, email and social media, the art of handwritten sentiments of appreciation and love can seem like ancient history. This year pull out a card or even a piece of simple notebook paper and write a love letter. List the reasons why your loved one makes the world a better place. Recall favorite memories and point out the gifts you see within them. Express your gratefulness for their contribution to your life. While you could certainly couple this gift with a small gift card or baked goods, it honestly stands on its own.
Harken back to gifts of simplicity this holiday season. Remind yourself that it truly is the thought that counts and luckily thoughts aren’t incredibly expensive if you’re creative in your approach. Recall some of your most favorite simple gifts and replicate those. The simplest things almost always mean the most to those we love. Gifts like these will outlive December and bless others for years to come.