I don't know about all of you, but for a nature-lover such as myself, the cold days of winter can get REALLY depressing! Which is why last year I got very excited over this next thrifty gift- paperwhite narcissus bulbs! These are bulbs that will grow indoors in winter, and other than a little watering and some sunlight, they require very little care.
Last year I purchased a small bundle of these bulbs, then I went to Home Depot and bought some plain ceramic pots and potting soil (turns out you can also just use river rocks and water). I painted the pots to dress them up a bit, and then I planted the bulbs shortly before Christmas. By Christmas Day they were just sprouts a few inches tall. I wrapped a ribbon around each pot and gave them to my mom, stepmom, mother-in-law, and sister-in-law (and I kept one for myself). After about 2 more weeks they came into bloom, with lovely fragrant white flowers. Whenever I spoke with one of my "moms" or my sister-in-law, they would always mention their flower and tell me how it was doing, and we would compare notes.
I loved this gift because it was inexpensive, it was beautiful, it brought us all closer together with our shared "babies" we were caring for, and whenever I started to yearn for spring, I could just lean down and inhale the sweet fragrance of my beautiful flowers and know that the women I love in my family could do the same thing.
My only recommendation is to plant one or two extra, just because plants can be unpredictable and you don't want to be empty-handed for someone you love on Christmas (luckily, my sister-in-law is a certified horticulturist, so I gave her the plant that was struggling because I knew she could save it)! And that way, if they all bloom, you can have an extra to give to someone else or to keep for yourself.
For more information about paperwhites, check out this page on Gardenlady.com.
Ooh, I'm getting in the holiday spirit already...I can't wait for tomorrow's thrifty gift!