‘All I want for Christmas are my two front teeth’, from the song sung by Nat King Cole, was often quoted to me as a child. No we definitely don’t sell them but as November is here I have started thinking about the issue of choosing what to give people at Christmas can present. Current climate and economic pressures are affecting more of us than ever before. Do we need a lighter touch this Christmas or even try to ignore it altogether? How can we keep our values in sight and not lose the gift of giving and blessing others?
Shopping lists! It’s often recommended for managing our food shopping budget and often as time is tight we forget, we don’t have a meal plan and then food goes to waste. I still do that - make a list but then add things in rather than keep to a budget limit. In the past I used to budget to the last halfpenny but with the luxury of a store cupboard and being prepared to ‘ready, steady, cook’ with reduced items, it’s meant I’ve become too laid back in my approach to the weekly shop. Writing lists also applies to Christmas when both creating a budget list and giving others a wish list of items that I would like can be a helpful way of managing finance! I find both are hard and may require some re-evaluation, re-thinking of old ways, reviewing of expectations and some creativity and ingenuity. My daughter is an excellent present finder but I struggle both with the giving and requesting.
When money’s tight then ordering priorities is a necessity. Investing in quality when you can. Innovation by re-using and repurposing so that cash outlay is kept to a minimum. In the early years of my marriage and money was tight my husband would ask for specific kinds of woodworking hand tools. This worked quite well for a while until the woodworking became a business adventure. Recently I requested a badger proof shelf for my potatoes and root vegetables which in discussion will be made from offcuts from my husband's workshop. As my parent’s got older and had all the things they wanted their main request for Christmas and birthdays was home-made lemon curd.
So what could go on your list to give? Whether you make it yourself or make kits or gift boxes from smaller acquisitions.
Time - a voucher for a specific amount of time. Clean a patio, move tubs and planters, enable another gardener to achieve by doing the heavy or more awkward work.
Homemade - repurposed pallets into cold frames, pot movers, seed storage, bird tables etc. Homemade chutney and jam or bottled fruit. A fresh veg box.
Club together As either family or friends to buy a larger more expensive item. Water butt, wormery, watering system - find out what the recipient would like.
Skills voucher Teach a new gardener when and how to prune a fruit tree or a rose; how to sharpen tools…
Invest in quality rather than quantity by buying stainless steel tools, peat free compost, reusable plant protection or plant supports.
Plant up a tub or bowl with spring bulbs, pansies and wallflowers for a bright splash of colour in the winter.
Little things that add up:
Cuttings and seeds to provide a colourful garden border, planter, wildlife area or a houseplant.
Dried or live arrangements, table decorations etc.
Grow your own loofah or maybe it’s something you can grow to give next Christmas?
A collection of propagation basics such as coir sowing medium, seed trays, plant labels and pen plus some seeds.
A collection of tool maintenance basics - rag, oil and sharpening tool.
These are just a few suggestions for starters but there are many more. Listen, look, learn and ask what would be a desired gift then let your creative juices flower.