A sock in progress from Vogue Knitting magazine.
As cliches go, “It’s the thought that counts,” has a pleasant, selfless holiday ring to it.
For those who like to quibble, granted, the “thought” could be nasty or nice. (At this point in my life, I have only one nasty person — for whom I feel sorry, for some inexplicable reason — with whom I still speak.)
The charming women below, are a delight, and for this, the second installment in the series on gifts that cost absolutely nothing, monetarily speaking, you will see how truly generous and inventive they are.
When I asked some of my favorite bloggers what they would give under the constraint of this circumstance, they didn’t hesitate. Once again, they have proved what extraordinary individuals they are. Click on their links and you will be transported onto their blogs and into their worlds filled with the (free!) gifts they offer every day.
Thank you so very, very much. Your cadeaux are original, loving, and kindly thoughtful.
In their own words. . .
Deja Pseu of Une Femme
Mille mercis, chere Tish for inviting me to participate in this fabulous roundup!
Perhaps, as for so many of us, money is a bit tight this year. Or, perhaps that friend or family member has insisted that you make a charitable donation in her name in place of a gift, but you still want to do something special and personal for her.
A gift doesn’t always have to be something wrapped and placed under the tree (though some of these below could be). Giving our time and talents is a wonderful way to let people know that they are special and cherished. Below are some ideas for gifts that require little or no money.
Those who can do, teach:
Are you a whiz at tying a scarf, pruning a rosebush, making a pie crust, training dogs, wrapping gifts, arranging flowers, knitting or embroidering, changing the oil in your car? Has your friend always admired that skill and expressed the wish that she could learn it? Arrange and schedule some lesson time devoted to sharing your particular talents.
Technology is our Friend:
Is he or she in awe of your CD collection of 80’s alternative rock or rare 1950’s jazz performances? Burn a few disks with some favorites, or upload to your gift onto his or her iPod or MP3 player.
Does a friend have digital photos from a special vacation still just sitting in the camera? Make a slide show or computer screen saver so they can be enjoyed anytime.
Use a template from your word processor program (or download one like this) to make some pretty recipe cards. Type up a few of your favorite recipes and download to a disk, or print out on heavy stock and have them laminated (some cost involved, but should be nominal).
(Ed. Note: Guess what? Technology is not my friend and darling Pseu is giving me what, in my opinion, is a priceless gift with some tech tips. I can’t wait.)
Gifts from the garden
How about a rooted cutting from your heirloom night-blooming jasmine plant? Some bouquets of dried herbs, tied with a pretty ribbon? Frozen pesto sauce made with your home-grown basil?
These are just a few suggestions, but gifts we give of our time can be just as precious as anything that can be bought. What are your favorite no-cost ideas?
Sharon of My French Country Home
Thank you so much for inviting me to join in with this fun idea. It really got me thinking, “It’s much harder to choose gifts when we can’t spend money.”
This is what I came up with and strangely a lot seems to involve food! I have four children, so I tried to imagine a cost-free gift for each one.
Because my eldest son is away studying far from home and needs some TLC, I would cook him his favorite meal: daube and gnocchi followed by a golden syrup pudding — man food if ever there were any!
Because number two is enjoying a gap year before going to university, and has a particular interest in photography, I would take her to one of the great photo exhibitions on in Paris at the moment, then have a girlie afternoon window shopping and a chocolat chaud in our favorite Parisian bistrot.
Because my second daughter and third child has had her room redecorated, I would make her the glass bead and star chandelier I know she would love. I have the materials, it will be easy to do.
For the youngest, I would offer a surprise invitation to his best pals, feed them a good, hot meal of his favorite spaghetti, send them off to the forest to play a team game, then bake them massive quantities of chocolate brownies for tea!
Now I just have to take care of the rest of the list.
Mater of Mater Familias
I’m rather chuffed to be asked to contribute to Tish’s oh-so-stylish blog and on such a delightful topic! Mind you, while she indulged herself, over the past several weeks, with imaginary shopping of the more tangible, costly variety — she amassed swoon-worthy screens of perfect dresses, jackets, blouses, and more — she’s set me a task of imaginary gift-giving of the non-costly variety. That’s right, my task is to envision what I would give my loved ones this Christmas if I could not spend a centime.
Luckily, I have pared my list down, over the years, and now only give to my mother, my husband, our children and their partners, our adorable granddaughter and one girlfriend.
My Girlfriend: Since she recently exclaimed at the color of a silk-cashmere scart hanging by my door, that gift is easy: I’ll wrap the scarf around a bar of (wrapped) Portuguese soap from the bowl-full in the bathroom.
My Mother: Her no-cost gift is a no-brainer: nothing she loves more than to be taken on an outing, especially a walk somewhere she can’t get to on her own. So, my gift to her will be a walk along the Fraser River. This was one of her favorite walks before her driving privileges were revoked and not being able to get there on her own is a lingering resentment.
I might also raid my collection of scarves: a soft, surrogate hug would not only fend off the wind as we walk, but might also substitute for her failing short-term memory and keep the day fresh for her into the New Year.
My Daughters: Here’s where I admit to a huge advantage in the no-money-for-shopping challenge. I have a sizable knitter’s stash. No one needs to know precisely how sizable, but I will have no problem whipping up a scarf or hat or socks for each.
In fact, I’ve already finished a purple lace alpaca scarf for Daughter #1.
Daughter #2 is heading to ski country later this winter so I’ll send her on her way with a new toque.
Daughter #3 asked me earlier if I’d replace the cashmere socks I knit a few years ago, beginning to develop some holes now.
I’m still debating about a substitute for the bigger-ticket items we usually give. In some ways, not having a centime might be a great opportunity to scale that down and learn to focus on the small pleasures. But if I can’t reconcile myself to that, I have a (originally-pricey) pair of heels that I rarely wear and that Daughter #2 covets. A LBA would be perfect for Daughter #3, and that I could easily spare; and a cashmere cardigan I love, but rarely wear whose colors better suit Daughter #1.
Sons In & Out-of-Law: I’m giving hand knit socks as well and I’ll tuck a jar of my homemade blackberry jam in each pair to round the gift out a bit.
Daughter-In-Law: I think she will appreciate a pair of earrings that I’m not wearing much. I have an especially pretty pair of anethyst drops that will suit her coloring very well.
And, if I do give my daughters each a bigger-ticket item, I’ll have to balance by finding something for my son. Perhaps I could part with one of our big, blue pottery serving pieces for him and my daughter-in-law.
Nola: At two it will be easy to please her. With no expectation of gifts and a toddler’s delight with the tree lights and the music and the company. But I’ll give her a cardigan knit from my stash which will surely pale next to the excitement of the Brio train set we’ve saved from her mother’s childhood. Without spending a penny we’ll have more joy than any newly-purchased present could deliver.
My Husband: He’s already got the hand knit socks and enough hats and scarves and sweaters, plus I’ll be busy knitting for everyone else. But one of our daughters recently gave him a hand-me-down iPod, and he has so far not managed to get music downloaded onto it. I think he’d appreciate me setting up an iTunes account on his laptop and then loading up some music from some favorite CDs.
As well, I am going to make an ultimate sacrifice and let him take the Afgan tribal rug from my side of the bedroom and use it at his desk, he tried to appropriate it several weeks ago and I resisted very strenuously. So it would make a very generous gift on my part, and I think he’d really appreciate that. Sometimes giving should hurt a little, right?
I’ll also whip-up a batch of Paul’s favorite peanut butter cookies (all ingredients already in the cupboards, no centime-cheating) while he’s out and freeze them in anticipation of a quiet moment together.
I wish peace and contentment for Tish and all her readers: the happiness of the season’s collective gifts, recollected in tranquility (to borrow from Wordsworth) and magnified by having been attained debt-free.