If I were a fat old man in a red coat and a stocking hat with a pom-pom, this season would be so much more intuitive. Alas, I am neither fat nor male nor particularly jolly, and as such I often find gift-giving oddly onerous. Christmas becomes the re-gifting season, where I find myself rummaging about my belongings on the evening of December 24th, wondering what I can wrap and bestow upon my unsuspecting friends and relations.
Realizing, of course, that God carefully chose His very best and most precious gifts to give to me (namely, salvation from eternal damnation and His own Son), I know that I should put more time and thought into giving good gifts to those I love. But I’m not overburdened with money, so I’m forced to be creative.
I doubt I’m the only one who has run across this situation, and as such, I offer to you some of my ideas for Christmas gifts on the cheap or free. Pilfer them for your own use as you will.
Bake Christmas cookies, decorate them, and distribute them. Grandmothers and hungry college students alike are delighted by this prospect. Plus, you can relieve some of your creative impulses in the decoration. My brother and I used to make alien cookies with great big googly eyes to freak people out. It was fun!
Or, try baking bread—it’s not too hard, and recipes abound. If you’re already a great bread-baker, try making herbed or cinnamon bread. If you’ve got the money, package it with some nice inexpensive Christmas dishtowels or perhaps some pretty-looking jam.
A great gift for mothers or aunts: buy olive oil or vinegar in nice glass bottles, tie a ribbon around the neck, and voila, you have a classy gift for the salad-loving crowd. The bottles can be surprisingly inexpensive and pretty.
Books, of course, always make great gifts. Real bibliophiles are often more excited by old books than new ones, so why not take a book you own that you especially enjoyed reading this year, wrap it up, and give it to a friend? Include a note that details your favorite sections, and include a “certificate” for one coffee outing to discuss the book after the recipient has read it.
Coffee is a good gift for most people. You can go to Target and buy small packages of gourmet coffee and an inexpensive but cavernous grapefruit-sized mug. This works; my grandfather certainly appreciated it last year. Total cost was about eight dollars.
We all have those in our lives who we view with both affection and frustration because they “have everything”. What to get them? Christmas decorations! If you’re especially artistic, you can probably come up with a thousand different ideas for simple Christmas decorations to make, and of course, handmade Christmas ornaments mean much to those who pull them out year after year.
For the rest of us, who lack in creativity, ingenuity and confidence to ever turn out a Christmas ornament that isn’t more scary than heartwarming, we have the wonderful gift of Google. Check it out—there are websites with ideas all over the internet. One of my favorite things to make as a teenager were little felt Christmas mice with candy canes for tails. A word of caution: try one of your ornamental creations out before you buy supplies to make fifty, in case it is more involved than you thought, and don’t try to make them all the night before Christmas. (Sounds simple to avoid, but you know you’re tempted.)
When you think about it, giving gifts to others can be an act of worship, a way of giving thanks to God for His great gifts and letting that joy overflow into giving gifts to others. He is good to us.
(If you have additional ideas for inexpensive or creative gifts, share them in the comments!)