Here on the homestead we love giving gifts. Most of our gifting happens spontaneously throughout the year as we share fresh picked bouquets or extra veggies with friends and family. It seems we seldom leave home without something to drop off along the way.
Giving in December requires a more conscious approach for us since the garden is not as plentiful. Our goal as a family is to give thoughtful gifts. Giving thoughtfully can encompass a wide range of styles and price tags but takes some work to determine what items will truly bless and benefit the recipient. I am not a fan of giving “stuff” but prefer to focus on consumable items or tools (think kitchen, garden, or craft). Some of these gifts are homemade, some purchased but it all starts with gathering clues to what that person might truly enjoy.
Often I create items like herbal salves, lip balm or body butter scented with essential oils for the special gals in my life. Last year I was in full “maker mode” and had a basket full of handmade options for my friends to choose from, items like rice bags to be used as heating pads and crocheted dish towels plus several herbal creations. This year, after having multiple friends ask about the elderberry syrup I make for our family, I decided to make a large batch and give out small jars of elderberry syrup. I also have a good supply of dehydrated herbs, so I will create some tea blends as well. Keeping friends healthy is definitely thoughtful.
In our own family, we don’t give individual gifts to our children but rather choose a family gift. The last several years, this has meant splurging on several boxes of fresh citrus in December. Our hungry teenagers are definitely pleased with this choice. Additional food related gifts include things like pickled jalapenos that my young adult daughter canned one year and another time she made a batch of special biscotti to go along with my tea blends. She also regularly gifts a local aunt and uncle with a coupon for her to make a “restaurant style” meal at their home. One caution on keeping food gifts thoughtful is to consider any dietary needs of your recipient. Giving sweet treats to a diabetic isn’t a wise choice. Recently, our family was given a plate of Christmas goodies and they noted which ones were gluten free so my husband could enjoy them.
A gift of the right tool can give new inspiration for someone who is a maker. In their younger years, gifts of art supplies would hurl our children into full creative mode. Other tools that come to mind are high quality garden tools, carving tools and helpful kitchen gadgets. A kitchen tool on my wish list is the nifty Lehman’s popcorn popper to replace my aging one (in case anyone is needing clues for thoughtful gifts for me!)
For a long time, I snuffed gift cards or money gifts as being wimpy and impersonal. With teenage nieces and nephews to buy for, I am changing my mind. Some ways to make a gift card feel thoughtful is, of course, to carefully choose the store and then add a small personal touch like a bag of mixed nuts or treats. The recipient also can help raise the gift card thoughtfulness score by writing a detailed thank you note or sometimes I take a picture of my children with the item chosen to send to the giver.
Whatever your gifting plan is, be sure to make it a thoughtful one and enjoy the blessing of giving this season!
Karen Geiser is a regular demonstrator and homesteading class teacher at Lehman’s.