• Nina

Goddess Tips: Holiday Gifting on a Budget

Updated: Feb 11, 2021

silver bells, christmas tree decorations

The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of year, and this particular year I’ve been really in the spirit of things; 2020 has been an extremely difficult time for the world, and even though the holidays don’t really look like they usually do, nothing is going to stop me from having a wonderful season. Be it virtually or in person, there’s isn’t anything more beautiful than sharing love and joy with our loved ones, neighbors and everyone we inhabit this planet with.

This will be my first Christmas without my grandmother, and much of my family won’t be able to see each other in person. But, as the world tries to recover from the turmoil of the last few months, it’s important that we all celebrate responsibly and safely. For now, we can protect ourselves, our families and everyone else’s family by staying apart, so that maybe next year we can all be together again.

When the holidays roll in, so does the season of giving; I’ve been through many holidays where I’ve felt sad because I couldn’t afford to buy nice presents for family or friends. I know that the holidays aren’t really about the presents, but it feels so great to do something for the amazing people in my life; our loved ones deserve the world, I wish I could treat mine all the time. However, let’s remember that some of the best gifts we can give are made up of thoughtfulness and time; it doesn’t have to be about how much we can spend. Many of us are in a bit of a tight spot this year, so I thought I would share a few ideas for gift-giving on a budget (they're mostly low-waste, so as always we can save the planet while saving money). All recipes for the edible gifts provided are vegan. You may already have a lot at home that you can use to create meaningful gifts; get creative with it, you might be able to use recycled or upcycled materials to save some old items.

Make treats

Rather than sending a box of goodies from some fancy gift-basket company, make your own boxes of yummies. I’ve provided a few recipes below for some mail-friendly, lower-cost, plant-based treat ideas. Baking has never failed me, and I know I would be ecstatic to receive some home-made holiday cookies. Yes, you’ll have to buy ingredients (unless you happen to have them already), but your typical 5lb bag of flour is enough to make several batches of cookies or pastries, so the little bit of money you’ll spend on ingredients = gifts for your whole family.

Before gifting food, always make sure to be aware of your recipients’ allergies or dietary restrictions. Get decorative with it - repurpose some ribbon or paper you have lying around to package your box with; you might have plenty of materials lying around to use as packaging, so you won’t have to go out and buy wrapping paper or tissue.

Gourmet popcorn: Pop some corn, melt chocolate and drizzle it all over - then toss in some nuts or crushed candy cane, maybe some coconut shreds - the possibilities are endless. Place in containers, or a bag tied with string.

Similarly, gourmet pretzels: Grab a big bag of pretzels, dip them in chocolate, cover them in sprinkles or crushed candy cane, you can’t go wrong.

My favorite vegan chocolate chip cookies

Short on ingredients? Try these three-ingredient peanut butter cookies from @eat.drink.shrink on Instagram, who I am absolutely obsessed with.

I love this sugar cookie recipe. Decorate with icing or cute sprinkles. I personally like to use cane sugar instead of white, and you may need a little more liquid to get the right texture.

If you're planning on using marshmallows, Dandies Marshmallows are where it's at. They're vegan and can be found in a wide range of grocery stores. As usual, not sponsored, just a huge fan.

Or, give them an activity and make Baking Kits:

Have some recycled jars from grocery-store goods? Find a recipe, measure out all of the dry ingredients, and stack them in the jar using parchment paper circles to separate them into layers. You could use wax paper as well, or whatever is available to you. You can do this for anything: cookies, cake, croissants, anything you think your recipient would have fun making. You could even take some instant hot cocoa, place it in the jar, then layer marshmallows, candy cane, and chocolate chips on top.

Here is an instructional sample using the chocolate chip cookie recipe from above:

  1. Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Place at the bottom of the jar; this is your first layer.

  2. Cut out a circle of parchment paper, and place in the jar above your flour layer.

  3. Measure out the granulated sugar (the recipe calls for white sugar, but I personally think it tastes better with cane sugar), and add to the jar. This is your second layer

  4. Add another paper circle, and add the brown sugar.

  5. Add another paper circle, then drop in the flax seed.

  6. Add another paper circle, then top it off with a layer of chocolate chips.

  7. Seal the jar, and decorate it. Print out the recipe, and tape it to the jar, or secure it with ribbon or twine.

If you don't have ribbon or string lying around, upcycle an old garment and create a cloth bow!

Have a device? Use a free app and create digital art

Digital art, if you have the tools for it, can make an amazing and cost-free present; your recipient can use their art as a phone or computer background, and if they wish they can have it made into a print. I have a Surface Laptop II, and use Paint 3D, which is free on the Microsoft Store. If you'd like to see a couple samples of my own work, check out Conscious Cafe on Redbubble. Create a pet portrait, a landscape painting of their favorite place, a still life of their favorite flowers, the possibilities are endless.

Knit or crochet

Rather than spend $15 on a cheap scarf, spend $4 and some time on a nice bundle of yarn to make a quality, hand-crafted one. Maybe craft a beanie, maybe a baby or pet blanket, maybe a couple of throw-pillow covers. There are so many small knitting projects to be done; I’ve linked a few pattern ideas in this paragraph. I’ve been ambitiously working on this cardigan for my mom, it’s a little out of my league, but I’m doing my best to have it done while the weather is still cold enough to wear it.

Create a photo album

There’s just something really special about photo albums; it seems like we’re all constantly taking pictures to post online, but scrolling through your camera roll doesn’t give you the same feeling as flipping open a book and seeing your happy times together in print. If you want to get photo prints, it doesn’t cost too much to get them done at most office supply stores or printing centers, but it would also be fine to just use your own home printer and colored ink if that’s more accessible to you. There are some mini photo albums available on Amazon for under $8, but you can opt to purchase a small binder for a few bucks and completely design the album yourself.

Craft craft, craft, with whatever you have

Got a hobby? Whatever your DIY of choice is - painting, wood-working, embroidery, illustration, poetry, sewing - the time and individuality you put into your work is worth more than any fancy store-bought gift.

Give them a break

Though this is not a “present” idea, I think it’s important to mention that the little things we do for each other can really show someone how much you appreciate them. Try helping out a little more around the household this month (and always). Take over all of the chores for a day to give your loved one some time off. Make them their favorite dinner, and tell them not to lift a finger. Notice them having a hard time? Ask how you can help. Clean that thing you promised you would clean but haven’t gotten to yet. Thank them and acknowledge the little things they do for you.

There's nothing wrong with "re-gifting"

Let's normalize re-gifting; it reduces waste, and isn't any less thoughtful than going out and buying something. If you received a present or bought something for yourself that you've never used, why not gift it to someone in your life who you think would really love it? Maybe you received a pretty journal from a Secret-Santa at work, but you don't write; however, your best friend has been journaling for years, and you think she'd like this one. It's still a meaningful present that you know she'll enjoy using.

These are just a few ideas for gifting when you’re on a budget; take a look at the tools and the time that you have, and think about what you might be able to make.

The holiday season is about the love that we share and the memories we create with each other. Let’s fill this time with gestures of kindness and acceptance; you don’t need to buy jewelry or cologne to let someone know how much they mean to you.

How will you be celebrating this year? Let’s chat.

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