Yesterday we had to go to “the Mall”. No, not to shop for Christmas, but for some things that were needed from the pharmacy etc. I haven’t done Christmas shopping at a Mall for so long that I can’t remember when I did. The place was packed! The parking lot was packed. You know the scene. Where you have to follow someone back to their car and lurk until they pull out, putting your indicator light on to let others know that this spot is TAKEN and grab their parking spot. It is rather aggressive. Then there are the line ups! OMG! I’m just so happy that I don’t work as a cashier. My back starts aching just thinking about it and all for minimum wage too.
But the worst part of it is the sheer consumerism of it. All that new stuff which will eventually be discarded as the wrong color or the wrong style or just not right somehow. The amount of goods going out is mind boggling, the amount of resources used, and the amount of money spent and a lot of it spent by people who really really can’t afford it. Well, what if there is an alternative? And of course there is…
In past years on this blog I’ve written about Abundance at Christmas and written about the fun we’ve had finding Decor and Music for Xmas all from second hand sources. I’ve shown my HUGE Santa collection, in the post, Revisiting my Santa Collection, all also second hand for the most part.
So with that done, for 2011, I’d like to present some gift ideas that don’t require going to the Mall. Think of it as Helen’s Recycled Earth-Friendly, Pocket Book Friendly and Guilt Free List of Gift Giving Ideas. These ideas are tried and true. In fact, we have a rule and all our friends and close family also follow it in regard to presents for each other. The rule is the present must be second hand or hand made. It should be fun, lovely or useful and most of all it should be CHEAP! ** So no worries about how much to spend, no worries about the credit card maxing out and no worries about having to go to a Mall. Wow that’s a lot less worries eh?
(** Cheap is a subjective term. Inexpensive is different things to different people. Our rule is literal, no more than $10, less if possible. That said, my list offers a wide range of “inexpensive” according to your budget. )
OK here goes.
1• Go to the Used Book Store and look for books that are in nice shape, and would interest your friend, relative etc. This year we’ve found Cook Books galore. And believe me there is something for everyone. I even found a Weight Watchers one for a friend who goes there and a Diabetic one for another friend with Diabetes. Don’t forget about Decor books and Books about Crafting and Creative Arts. There really isn’t any subject or interest that isn’t covered somewhere in a book.
2• Still at the Used Bookstore? Well, there are an awful lot of Kids books, Craft and Art books, and books about any possible interest that a friend could have. Actually, books are one of the things we look for at Garage sales all summer ( yes, I’m one of those people who are looking for gifts all year). You can get great deals. And if the book is already inscribed with a sentiment by the original gift giver, no matter… just add yours as well. Our friends have no worries about giving away a gift to someone else after they’ve read it and just adding another inscription. The more times given, the better, we all agree.
3• Go to your local Thrift Stores. There is an absolute abundance of gifts here.
I’ll break it down by age and gender
Gifts for Little kids
Kids grow out of clothing so fast, that very often you can find almost new things of good quality too. In fact, some were gifts and never worn and still have the tags since Sally or Sam was already too big for the gift when it was given. So…. there it is in the Thrift shop ready to be a gift again.
Toys, there are just huge amounts of old toys ready to be played with by a new child. That sounds nice doesn’t it? Just check for broken parts, make sure it’s age appropriate and clean.
Gifts for Mother in Law or Moms are sometimes difficult to buy for. Well, see #1 and #2, books. But don’t forget things like vintage jewelry, or scarves. There’s so much out there in signed and artsy textiles and jewelry that you ‘ll be tempted to buy some for your self too.
Gifts for Guys of all ages; Guys are hard to buy for. Unless you look for interests. Like cooking, or sports or collections or gardening but more about that later. You can find T-shirts with great graphics on them. If you know how to silkscreen or can use a transfer go for it, on a used T and have some fun making some home made designs. Cooks can always use aprons. Collections are always a good bet too. Bill collects Elephants, Dave collected Buddhas for a while too. We kept finding them everywhere.
4• Ok you’ve done Used Book store and Thrift stores, how about Garden Centres? Try to find a centre that locates it’s products from greener eco sources and you’ve got an earth friendly gift for sure. Potted plants for indoors that bloom are nice. An Amaryllis is always a good gift. I used to give one to my Mother in Law for a few years and we’d compete in a friendly fashion as to who got the most blooms. It’s easy to ship and there’s the fun of planting and waiting for the Gorgeous blooms too.
5• Art Supply stores are a great source of prezzies. Not just for those artists on your list but for the ones you know really want to try something creative. There are lots of sketch books made with 100% recycled paper, acid free and archival quality. And if you do a bit of stealthy investigative interviewing of your giftee, you might even find that they would love to take a course in something or other. Most artists are like me and are quite happy to provide gift certificates to their courses.
6• Art Galleries. Ok I know a lot of people are intimidated by Art Galleries but go on, be brave, venture in. You’ll find a lot of interesting things there. Many public galleries have a Gift Shop full of wares made by local artists. And a lot of it is in very very affordable. Most galleries put on shows of smaller pieces at Christmas just to highlight all their artists and offer a start into collecting art. A lot of emerging artists be they young or old, have some amazing work for sale.
7• Art and Craft shows are usually in November, but there are still a few “last Minute shows” to be found showing local artists. Keep art and gift giving in mind in the summer too when many artists and artisans are showing their stuff in local Art and Craft shows. There you will find something for everyone, literally. They have food gifts, herbal makeup, prints, clothing and jewelry, sculpture, art work of all kinds. You will be spoilt for choice and supporting Local Artists as well. I collect their business cards too so that I can look up their web sites later for other gift ideas. A lot of them have Etsy stores or their own web sites. You would be amazed at how much artwork these days is made from recycled materials.
8• Another gift worth considering is materials for art works. My last birthday was perfect partly because two friends gave me discarded stained glass shards for a present knowing that I’d use them somehow in my mosaics or other artworks. Along that line, give used beads and necklaces to a someone who is into beading, used or scrap material to a quilter, or used dishes and tiles to a mosaic artist. There are so many hobbies and interests that your friends and relatives indulge in that the list of possibilities of materials is endless.
9• Look around your home for gifts. Yes, things you already own. Ornaments that you no longer enjoy may be loved by someone else. Maybe you have a collection that is too big and there are some pieces that you know would be welcomed by a friend. Along that line, have a gift exchange party and have everyone bring something that they no longer want but that would make a lovely gift for someone else. Swap or sell to each other. It’s a good excuse for a party and recycles too. You could even throw in a Cookie exchange which brings me to my next gift idea.
10• Get in the kitchen and start cooking or baking. I’ve been going to the library and picking up lots of books about Christmas cooking and baking. The library is a great free resource and one day I’m going to do a blog just about libraries. I take out tons of magazines every month. I figure I’m saving some trees and hey, I don’t have to store them. A lot of the December mags can’t be taken out but last years Christmas edition is there to peruse and get lots of ideas from. I love the ones that go all out with Christmas baking ideas. In fact, at garage sales I snatch those Xmas editions up really fast. Ok to get back to the kitchen…. Baking is always a great gift. I find lots of vintage tins at thrift stores and garage sales all year and give presents of baking. Just line the tin with wax paper or other nice paper and fill to the brim with goodies. One of these years I’m going to learn how to make chocolates too. Another idea to give.
Which brings me to recycled wrapping paper. We save all the gift bags and wrapping paper and use it over again. I’ve also sewn gift bags that get passed around from year to year. This year I’m planning on finding some Chinese newspapers and using them to wrap presents with some lovely ribbon and maybe some lucky people will get one of the many used Xmas broaches I found at the Thrift store adorning their packages. But changing your gift wrap ideas is another way to stay out of the Mall. Maybe this should be # 11.
Hope my little list has given you some good last minute ideas. And with that, we wish you and yours a lovely, recycled, creative,artistic and mall-Free Christmas! That’s the best present yet. BTW if you liked the little vintage Christmas Illustrations I’ve peppered throughout, look for Vintage Christmas by Dover Publications for royalty free illustrations. Which I found at the Library, of course. But if you want to buy it, it’s a Green Planet Friendly publication.