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Holiday Recipes Perfect for Sharing

Homemade Gifts To Make
The Story of Stuff:
A thought-provoking, child-friendly online video about where things come from.

Every year it seems we are bombarded with more and more seasonal advertisements. Here are a few ideas that might appeal to you if you think that putting a set of car keys in a Christmas stocking or throwing a $1000 birthday party seems excessive.

For those who have it all, why not give a charitable gift in their honour?
Consider one of the following:

Or consider offering a needed service: babysitting, petsitting, house minding, landscaping, photography, cooking, house cleaning, snow removal, odd jobs, etc.

For young children, consider making one of the crafty recipes (playdough, slime, homemade paints, etc.) from the Concoctions page.
You can also put together a craft package including construction paper, glue, safety scissors, coloured yarn, washable markers and/or crayons, scrap fabric, buttons, beads, etc. Package the kit in a reusable container and top with a reusable fabric bow and/or or paintable wood shape.

If crafts aren't their thing, how about a hand-made coupon for an outing to their favourite museum or attraction with you? Or an afternoon baking their favourite cookies or muffins together? Some of our favourite holiday recipes can be found here. Remember that a gift of time is much more valuable than anything you can buy in a store.

For older children and teens, consider tickets, gift certificates or family memberships. Some more meaningful choices can be for theatre or sporting events that you attend together, or for interests you have in common. Do you both ski? How about a ski day together. Or maybe bowling is your thing. A pottery workshop might be the ticket. Be sure to follow their passions in your choices, and approach the day with enthusiasm. Never forget that the greatest gift you can ever give is your time.

For relatives, gather together a collection of photos from your family from the past year. There are lots of ways to do this--you can make a cd or dvd on your computer or through your local photofinisher, make a photo collage using a commercial frame or with your own scrapbooking skills, make a more traditional photo album, or try making this photo collage box. For homemade picture frame ideas, try here. You can also try your hand at other homemade gifts, such as jams, preserves, cookies, cakes, candy, etc., or try one of the ideas on my homemade gift ideas page. Grandparents, aunts & uncles may treasure a hand-print keepsake from a young child.

Still not sure? Try the Buy Nothing Christmas Site for even more ideas.

For teachers and coaches, consider a donation on their behalf. Free The Children empowers children in North America to take action to improve the lives of fellow children throughout the world. The World Vision Catalogue has many teacher-appropriate gifts. Or make a donation on behalf of a coach to Right to Play. You can make the gift more personal with a hand-made card. Or consider making a gift yourself. We have given these hand-painted snowman mugs to grandparents, coaches and music teachers (added a guitar to the snowman). For other homemade gift ideas see here. For homemade Christmas ornaments which also make great gifts, see here.

Stockings: sometimes Santa fills them, but sometimes he needs a little help. However it works in your house, you may find some of the following item suggestions helpful.

    Stocking staples:
      scented or specialty soaps
      dental floss
      wash cloth
      comb or hairbrush
      orange, apple or other favourite fruit
      a book or magazine (here are some favourite books for children and tweens)
      a pair of socks
      pen and/or pencil
      favourite candy
      favourite tea or coffee (fair trade & organic!)
      a bookmark, homemade or commercial
      lip balm
      bus tickets or pass
      hair bands, or other hair accessories
      hand cream
      nail clipper, file and/or emery boards
      shower cap
      coffee mug or sippy cup
      small notebook
      screwdriver bits, drill bits and other small hand tools
      seeds or bulbs for planting
      a toque

Try following individual interests too:

    Are there musicians in the family? They may need guitar picks, clarinet reeds, valve oil, ledger paper, etc.

    Swimmers might need a new cap, body lotion or swimmer's shampoo.

    Hockey players might like a new puck, hockey tape or equipment spray.

    Artisits always need supplies--smaller ones, like erasers, pencils, exacto knives etc. make great stocking stuffers.

    Infants might like stackable bath toys, while preschoolers might like a batch of homemade playdough along with some cookie cutters and a small wooden roller. Bubble bath is also popular.

    Older kids might like some craft supplies, special pens or pencils, a journal, or a deck of playing cards.

    Cyclists might appreciate a spare innertube or reflective tape.

    Hikers might like a pair of hiking socks, a new water bottle, or an energy bar.

    Consider making a donation to Right to Play on a coaches' behalf.

    Teachers and parents might like a new calendar or headache relief items.

Use your imagination and the things you know about the person to guide you.

Start a New Tradition
Traditions form an important part of celebrations, but they all had a beginning. If you find the holidays stressful, take a look at what causes you the most grief. Then think about the aspect of the holidays that are important and meaningful to you. Follow the traditions that reflect these. And be willing to let go of those that no longer work for you and your family.

Perhaps you have experienced a major life change recently, such as the birth of a new child or the loss of a loved one. This is an opportunity to start a new tradition. Maybe you will light an extra candle or set an extra place at your dinner to remember a loved one. Maybe you will trace the handprint of a child on the same day each year as you watch them grow.

One tradition we've enjoyed is to keep a memory box. Find, make and/or decorate a small box (a larger shoebox works well). Throughout the year, add souvenirs, ticket stubs, photos, letters, newspaper clippings, awards, etc. to the box. On New Year's Eve, open the box and look through the contents to remember the past year together. Then start the year with an empty box again. It's great for reviewing accomplishments and special events, and also provides a place for those odds and ends that tend to accumulate.

Remember that traditions are important, but not written in stone. If it no longer fits your family or creates unnecessary pressure, maybe it is time to replace it with something more appropriate. In my family, we no longer eat the same holiday meal than we once did, yet we enjoy our new meal much more because we are eating food we enjoy rather than the food our grandparents enjoyed. Remember the things that are important to you, and focus on those. Keep it simple and keep it real and have the best holiday season ever!