or is America being forced to spend LESS money (and MORE time) with their loved ones during this holiday season?
New statistics indicate that less shopping and more “home-making” is being done in U.S. homes this year. In a recent holiday poll from the Consumer Reports National Research Center, 32 percent of respondents said they were worse off financially than the previous year, and about half of that group said they’d be spending more time with family and friends (18 percent expect to be paying off credit cards well into the new year (and that’s being optimistic.)
When you give a homemade gift, you are giving a part of yourself to the recipient. You can’t do that with a mass-produced item. And how many of those mass-produced items can we afford anyway, with the nation’s unemployment rate at 17.2 percent (and don’t get me started on the UNDERemployed.)
Holidays are about giving. If you give someone a store-bought gift that you can’t afford anyway), that person will no doubt appreciate your generosity. But if you give a handmade gift, you are also giving your time, your creativity and your uniqueness, which will make your loved one appreciate the gift (and you) that much more.
I remember one year where the 99cent store (across from my job in Brooklyn) was selling glass mason jars – for 50 cents each. I was thrilled!! I bought $10 worth (20 jars) and I also bought wooden stirring spoons, then I ran them through my dishwasher (trust me, I’ve read that this is really hygenic, as opposed to boiling the jars in a big pot.) I then bought bags of dried pasta (cheaper than BOXES of dried pasta) and I made a pot of tomato gravy (that’s tomato “sauce” to you non-Italians) and filled the jars – 10 with pasta and the other 10 with gravy. I tied the tops of the filled jars with red and green ribbon (Italian AND Christmas colors,) and inserted a wooden spoon with each pair. It made 10 gifts and I believe the average gift-set (gravy and pasta) averaged out to about $5 a gift…some of those friends still use those mason jars today and every time they stir with that wooden spoon, they tell me they think of me and my delicious gift of pasta and gravy…and that was about 12 years ago.
So, you see, a $4 home-made gift can invoke a wonderful memory over a decade later.
The real gift to my family and friends is the food (and time spent making it) at my holiday party – I go all out and try my best to satisfy them. If I had to buy all this food AND buy expensive holiday gifts for everyone, I would spend thousands on the holidays – and we put a firm end to all that about 5 years ago.
Here are some other ideas:
a) One year, I bought small mason jars at Ikea and filled them with fresh citrus marmalade and fruit preserves.
b) Homemade Limoncello in glass bottles are festive for those that want some spirits during the holidays. Don’t forget to tie on the recipe for Limoncello or whatever flavored vodka you make (about $9 including the vodka and resealable glass bottle.)
c) Cookies, cookies, and more cookies wrapped in cellephane bags.
d) Another time, I bought inexpensive DVDs at Target – Frosty the Snowman, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, A Charlie Brown Christmas, etc., for about $3 to 5 dollars each. I also bought candy at Target – Goobers and Twizzlers as well as microwave popcorn packets. I placed the movie/DVD, candy, and pop-corn inside inexpensive Christmas Stockings (also at Target) and gave them to my friends who have children – even years later, everytime they see these Christmas cartoons, these “kids” (now teenagers and young adults) think of their “Uncle Luiz.” This one cost me about $8 a family.
What home-made ideas do you have to share?? It just might help someone out this year.