WU member since Oct. 2005. I enjoy reading, crafts, crosswords, puttering in the yard, old movies and hanging out with my friends on WU.
By: palmettobug53, 3:02 PM GMT on December 19, 2009
A practical Christmas.
It sounds a bit dull, doesn't it? Christmas is a time of joy, giving, lights, tinsel, food and parties. It's meant to be magical, not practical.
Not to be a Scrooge but I beg to differ. I'm not opposed to all the things that make Christmas magic and wonderful. Not at all. I am, however, a little disgruntled at all the commercialism. At the excess. The stress. The overeating!
The economy seems a bit better this year. Judging from the traffic, there's a lot of people out shopping. I haven't really been out that much, as I no longer buy a lot of gifts. Almost everyone on my list is my age or older. They pretty much have all the "stuff" they need or want. I try to stick with giving them things that they can use up.
This is a bit of a reprise of a blog I did either last year or the year before. If the folks on your gift list are hard to buy for, have more things than they can use now, are physically limited, are on fixed incomes or you, yourself, are on a limited budget, here is the spot to toss out some ideas. Don't be afraid to check out your local dollar stores or Big Lots, Goodwill, thrift shops, etc. Sometimes you find the perfect gift. Many of these can be done as at the last minute, which is great for procrastinators.
You can be practical and still have the magic of Christmas!
Gift cards or gift certificates - put a little thought into these, rather than just grabbing the nearest card at hand. You can get them for groceries, haircuts, manicures, massages, spas, restaurants, pharmacies, favorite department stores or boutiques or a cleaning service to come in twice a year to do heavy cleaning. Choose something that perhaps the recipient wouldn't get for themselves and then make a date to take them there, esp. if the recipient is elderly.
Homemade coupon's for household jobs/household maintenance are appreciated by older family members or friends. Things such as yard work, washing windows, changing light bulbs, changing batteries in smoke alarms (getting up on ladders gets dicey, when your balance is no longer very good), taking down drapes/curtains and getting them washed/dry cleaned and put back up. Putting up/taking down storm windows, raking, mowing, etc. Of course, you are doing most of these things all year long anyway, aren't you? Have different family members agree to do different chores. Spread it out.
Place mats and matching napkins/napkin rings, to replace worn sets. Tablecloths.
Towels, washcloths, bath mats.
Gift baskets. Your imagination is the limit on these. Food baskets, snack baskets, bath supplies baskets, baskets of fancy coffees/teas and a few accessories, such as a set of cups or a teapot. Gardening baskets, with tools, gloves etc. Birder's basket, with thistle sock, suet cakes, etc.
Fingernail polishes and supplies. Q-tips, cotton balls. Those thingies that hold your toes apart, whilst painting them and letting them dry.
Kitchen towels, dishcloths, pot holders.
You don't have to use actual baskets, either. Get yourself a cardboard box and wrap it, before putting your gifts inside. Xerox paper boxes work well for this. You wrap the bottom and wrap the lid. Put a big bow on top and it looks like a huge gift box. You can use planter pots, gardening buckets, any container, really. If you can't "wrap it" with regular paper, use colored cellophane paper or just put a big bow on top.
Which reminds me. Gardeners and birdwatchers can always use accessories or supplies. Basic birdseed, fancy seed, suet, birdfeeders, suet holders, nice pots, gloves, hand tools, shovels, rakes, potting soil, hangers for birdfeeders or hanging pots, containers to hold seed or potting soil... Check out your local garden centers for all kinds of accessories and supplies. I buy my basic birdfeed by the 50 lb bag - it's cheaper to buy in bulk. I have a stainless steel garbage can to store it in. Keeps the rats, mice and squirrels out of it. I also buy potting soil in bulk bags and empty them into an old plastic garbage can in the shed. You could give your gardener or birder a big bag of potting soil or birdfeed and a bin to store it in. Set up the storage bin in a convenient spot, empty the big bags in there for them and add a scoop. Make arrangements to keep the bin supplied and filled for them. This is especially helpful for those with physical limitations.
Don't forget calendars. There are hundreds on the market and you should be able to find one to suit someone on your list. You can enter birthdays/anniversaries and such on it, before wrapping.
Stationery, cards and stamps. Maybe even preprinted mailing labels for relatives with shaky handwriting.
Bus passes for the elderly or students You may also be able to contract with taxi companies to drive an older friend or relative to Dr. appts and such. I know one of our locally owned taxi companies gave a discounted rate for regular riders at one time. I don't know if they still do or not. This was for people that needed rides at set times daily or weekly.
Subscriptions to magazines or the local newspaper.
Pet food and pet supplies, such as flea meds, collars, cat litter, a new cat pan, toys.
Pre-paid calling cards or pre-paid phones.
Make arrangements to pay a monthly cell phone bill. Or other bill.
Arrange regular lunch or dinner dates and take them out to eat.
If you're into cooking and baking, candies, fudge, brownies, nut breads, cookies, etc. are always appreciated.
You can fix dry mixes for cocoa, Russian tea, pancakes, bean soups, etc. Put them in Mason jars with cooking instructions, cover the lid with fabric, add a bow and there you go. If you have a stash of empty mayo or other jars with lids, use those. Just be sure to clean/sterilize them well.
I bought bars of Yardley scented soaps at Dollar Tree for $1.00 each. I've seen them in the grocery stores and drugstores [priced anywhere from $1..39 to 2.49 a bar. For the same soap. I got 5 bars each of lavender, oatmeal and lemon-verbena. I'll give them to my cousin, my aunt and my SMom. They're lovely soaps and they'll be used and enjoyed. I have a couple of other items to give them, so it's not just the soap!
These are just some of the things you can do. What other suggestions can you come up with to share?
With all the snow that has hit our friends here on WU, I thought it might be time for a return visit from Bailey:
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Updated: 11:11 PM GMT on December 02, 2012