It seems like all of the Christmas-related blog posts I've been reading start off with something involving window displays in New York City. I fear my life is not so glamorous, but today at Michael's they were playing Hanson's Snowed In and the store smelled like cinnamon. It was very Christmas-y! To be honest, I've been in the "Christmas spirit" for a few weeks now. Near the beginning of November I realized I had been in Regina for 9 weeks and would be home in 7, and I have been dreaming of Christmas ever since!
The last few weeks I've been thinking a lot about Christmas gifts, and decided to put together a little gift guide. If we're friends in real life, please don't read the rest of this post. There may be subtle gift-spoilers, and at the very least it'll take way some of the fun of gift giving. Also, please keep in mind that this is just my opinion, and in no way is a definitive gift guide. I'm just a weird broke girl who loves giving gifts to the people I love!
Shop craft sales //
If you’re looking for cute, unique, hand-made gifts this is the best bet. Christmas craft sales begin the second weekend of November and continue up until a week before Christmas. Don’t worry if you’ve missed some, there’s still a lot more to catch! I prefer smaller craft sales at churches and community halls, over larger ones with admission fees and hundreds of vendors, but that’s just me. Larger ones will likely be well-advertised, but you’ll have to look a bit harder for the smaller ones. If your city has a website for events that’s a great place to check, and be sure keep your eyes out for posters on community bulletin boards and small advertisements in weekly publications. Also, when talking to vendors, ask them if they’ll be at any other sales before Christmas. This is a great way to find out about upcoming craft sales! Be sure to take cash, and I find it helpful to check out all of the vendors once before I start shopping.
Make something yourself //
Easier said than done, right? Making gifts takes money, as well as time and skill. And for really practical people, it can be hard to decide what to make for them. Before I started doing pottery, it felt that everything I made was comparable to macaroni glued to paper. Pottery is really great to give as gifts (especially in high school when I had nearly unlimited access to clay, glazes, and a kiln) but I don’t have access to a studio right now so I have to be a bit more creative in my ideas. One of my favourite simple gift ideas are these cute coasters from A Beautiful Mess (I’m making a few sets myself). Even if you’re not interested in tree stump coasters, felt and embroidery thread is a good place to start (here’s proof!).
Don’t be afraid to shop second-hand //
I have no shame in shopping for gifts second-hand, but this might depend on who you’re shopping for. I would say that housewares and jewellery are always okay (just call it vintage!) but clothes would be very specific to the person. This year my sister said “you can buy me clothes, but only if they’re vintage or from Value Village.” Here’s a little story related to that… Last year I bought her three sweaters, one from a thrift store and two from a shop at the mall. The sweater from the thrift store was a beautiful vintage cream-coloured cardigan in perfect condition with beading at the top, but because it was thrifted I didn’t think it was a “proper” gift. I gave her the thrift-store sweater a few days before Christmas, and wrapped the other two sweaters and put them under the tree to be opened Christmas morning. My sister absolutely loved the thrifted cardigan, and she ended up returning the other two sweaters because she just didn’t like them. Later she told me I should’ve given her the thrifted sweater for Christmas. I’ll be sure not to make that mistake again! And really? As long as it’s in good condition, vintage dishware is the same whether you bought it at an antique store for $50 or a thrift store for $5.
Be practical //
If you’re shopping for a university student or someone else just moving out into their own place, don’t be afraid to get them something practical! There are some things that are helpful but not necessary in the kitchen (like muffin tins, for example) that could make a great gift for someone starting out on their own. This is probably a safer bet for people close to you, like a sibling or daughter *cough cough* and it would likely be much appreciated by the recipient. I think a gift basket with a cake pan, flour, sugar, spatula, and a few spices would be a wonderful gift for someone who likes to bake but doesn’t have the supplies yet. A spice rack would also be an awesome gift - spices make cooking much more fun but their price can make it a hard-to-justify purchase for someone on a student’s budget.
Have a few go-to gifts //
Whether you’re only buying gifts for people close to you, or buying gifts for acquaintances and coworkers, it’s always nice to have a few go-to gifts. When I’m shopping for other young, cool women my go to gift is usually jewellery, particularly necklaces or earrings. So when I’m shopping and perusing craft sales I’ll keep an eye out for necklaces, while still keeping my friends’ personal styles in mind. My second go-to gift would be a book. This is another gift where you can still personalize it based on the recipient’s tastes. You can buy someone a book you know they’ve been wanting to read, something from one of their favourite authors, something in a genre they like, or even a book you love and think they would too. If you’re shopping for a coworker, acquaintance, secret Santa, or another gift exchange, your go-to gift might be a bit broader. My choices for this would probably be a mug with a half-pound of coffee beans or Starbucks gift card, or lotion from Bath and Body Works. Whatever it is, having a go-to gift idea can make shopping for gifts a bit easier.
Try home-baked goods //
Baked goods, especially Christmas themed goodies, make an excellent gift for coworkers and friends. In this case, the gift aspect is all about context. Select a few cookies (like these candy cane ones), wrap them in festive cellophane, and tie it with a bow. If you’re good in the kitchen, you can’t go wrong with this one.
I hope this little gift guide has sparked a few ideas for you! Are there any other points you’d add? Have you started buying Christmas gifts? I’m about half-way done - right now I’m working on some homemade gifts.
PS. I’m absolutely loving She & Him’s Christmas album. You should check it out if you get the chance (I’m listening to it right now on Grooveshark).