‘Tis the weekend to get some gifts! It seems like no media outlet can resist offering their two cents on budget-friendly holiday gifts this season. (I’m listening to Sound Check right now doling out their musical gift picks.) And this year, neither can I.
I usually don’t dish about gift-giving, or other modes of culturally forced buying on this site (alright, come and give me the Scrooge speeches!), unless it’s about giving to charities. But there’s one little reason I’m making an exception: the troubled economy. So here are a few ways to spread your generosity and cheer without troubling your bank account.
Reusable Utensil Kit
example: this handmade bamboo one from Global Exchange
I was trying to eat broccoli with a plastic fork the other day at work, and the stalks kept on retracting from the puny prongs with every stab. While eating penne with plastic, the pasta just bounced all over the place. Bottom line: as bad as disposable cutlery is for the environment, they’re also a poor replacement for the real thing. This clever pouch with a bamboo utensil set is a socially-conscious and green-friendly gift that also makes eating when away from home much easier. ALSO: why not do a DIY version? Grab some scrap fabric, sew a few long pockets, and tuck in some second-hand silverware. You are so incredibly crafty and thoughtful.
example: this ceramic one from 3R Living
This is a nifty way to put your onion skins and apple cores away before bringing them to the compost center. It purportedly conceals the stench inside thanks to a “snug fitting lid” and it’s attractive enough to keep on your countertop day in and out. Just warn guests before they try to reach for the “sugar canister”!
Food or Wine Tasting/Cooking Class Gift Certificate
Ah, the experience-based gift! I received one of these a couple years ago, and enjoyed it immensely. In fact, it spurred a love of the casual cooking class. Going to a cooking class solo is a great way to meet like-minded people, or a fun date if you get two tickets, one for yourself. With so many venues for these in almost every community (aside from small wine shops, bakeries and kitchen stores such as the Brooklyn Kitchen, WholeFoods and Williams Sonoma frequently host classes — also check local restaurants to see if they offer some from their chefs), the curriculum is vast for the choosing.
Books, Books, and more Books
We’ve all heard the news that the New York-based publishing industry is beginning to look a bit like Detroit. I don’t think they’re going South any time soon, but I’m planning to do a little book buying spree this season and encouraging my family and friends to do so as well. I happen to think books make some of the best gifts on earth. They’re cheap, they’re reusable, and they make you smart. They help foster community if you join a book club. You can give one to your friend when you’re finished reading it. Sure you can also go to the library, but where is Julia Child going to be when you’re trying to figure out how to truss a goose? Some books are just worth keeping and treasuring, and folding back the corners on the pages with your favorites lines on them.
So which books are the best books to buy right now? I’ll leave that up to you to decide. Next year, however, I may have a slightly more decisive answer.
Menu for Hope V Gifts
You might be familiar with Chez Pim‘s food blogging project to benefit the World Food Programme. Now in its fifth year, it’s bound to be bigger and raise more funds than ever. Charities around the world are suffering especially hard in this economic downturn, with less corporate sponsorship the biggest problem. As a result, so are millions of needy people. But in keeping true to its original, budget-friendly vision, all the gifts on Menu for Hope are raffled off with a $10 ticket. So you can purchase just one ticket for your favorite prize, and win it or not, your money will still go to charity. Running the gamut from cookbooks to crafty foods, the gifts are all donated by food bloggers. Last year I sewed an apron from scrap fabric for the cause. This year I haven’t decided what to offer yet, but it will probably be something just as simple and homemade. Check out Chez Pim on December 15th, when the project launches and you can browse gifts.
That’s all for now — I trust you have plenty of ideas of your own and suggestions from the peanut gallery galore. I leave you to a happy holiday party-filled weekend, hopefully involving a little snow(!). And this photo (at top) of a few friends and I goofing around with Santa at a very fun holiday party last week.
Side note: None of the mentioned companies pitched or commissioned me, nor have any clue that I’m writing them up, so marketers, please don’t fill my spam folder!