Before delving into my First Day of Christmas, I just wanted to share my thoughts on Christmas, on what it has become and what I believe it should be.
I think we can all agree that Christmas has gotten just about as commercialized as anything can get. I am already getting e-mails announcing, "Tis the season" and I have started seeing the little snowmen start to take over store shelves. We have started the "celebration" earlier, not only for retail's sake, but also, I believe, because December becomes so very hectic and the pace can get maddening. To be truthful, that is why I decided to do these posts now- many of these beautiful thrifty gifts are ones that cost time, rather than money, and so I like to start preparing in the fall (one particularly thrifty year I started in September!).
With that said, I believe that Christmas should be about love. I believe that a gift should fulfill at least one of the following two objectives for the recipient: 1) it should be useful; 2) It should bring joy and demonstrate the love of the giver. If a gift does not meet one of those criteria, then it does not celebrate the true spirit of Christmas. But the best part is that useful and joyful gifts do not have to cost a great deal of money. I look forward to showing you twelve beautiful, thoughtful, and thrifty gifts that you can share with loved ones and friends and truly celebrate the Christmas spirit.
On the First Day of Christmas...Club Memberships!
A couple of years ago, my husband and I decided that we should each give one another a "love present," with the caveat that it should not cost a lot (if any) money. As I thought of what to give him, I started remembering all the times he had been looking through a magazine or a cookbook (he gets bored sometimes while I'm cooking) and he had come across a recipe for some decadent dessert and started drooling, saying, "Mmmmm...that looks good....you should really make that sometime!" And so I decided to enroll him in his own personal "Dessert of the Month Club". I gave him a fancy looking scroll stating the terms of his enrollment (dessert must be requested by the 5th of the month, etc) along with a few potential dessert recipes I had cut from magazines. Needless to say, it hit the sweet tooth right on the crown. ;-)
For friends- you could try a "Dinner of the Month" club, in which you could have a set day of the month (like the 2nd Sunday) that they would come to your house for dinner. It gives them a break from cooking, and allows you to strengthen bonds of friendship on a regular basis. You could do a 6-month, 12-month, or whatever other enrollment period works best for your family. For extra fun, fasten the "enrollment certificate" to a plate, then wrap it like a normal gift.
For ladies from their man- enroll your wife or girlfriend in a "Car Care Club" and wash and vacuum out her car for her once a month. (Sweetie, are you reading this?) ;-) For a fun presentation, attach the certificate to a sponge.
For kids- Give them coupons for things like, "Get out of cleaning your room", "Pick your own dinner menu", or "Special date with Mom." Decorate a box or an envelope for them to keep their coupons in.
For friends with kids- give them a gift certificate for 6 months of free babysitting, planning one night a month they can leave the kids with you and have a date (this is also a great baby shower gift!). Attach the certificate to a rattle or another baby toy.
The other nice thing about these "gifts that keep on giving" is that it spreads the time and expense out over the course of several months to a year. The only thing I would recommend is to, if at all possible, plan the dates for service in advance and put them on your calendar, otherwise they can be easily forgotten.
Just have fun with it, make it something thoughtful and useful, and be sure to follow through!