Simple, Seasonal, Since, little gifts with loads of good cheer
Great gifts needn’t be lavish or expensive, especially when what’s needed is something small to fill a gap in a Christmas stocking, gift at Hanukkah, or offer a beloved friend in thanks for a holiday invite. In each case, choosing presents that are either practical or consumable — or both — will also help reduce the clutter that comes with the season.
Tried and true
Old standbys — homemade tea loafs, breads, preserves, or sauces — are even more useful when wrapped in an attractive, inexpensive tea towel, such as one from Ikea’s Vardagen series.
Made from good-quality unbleached striped linen, it looks very cosy tied with twine or cord. A pack of two is just $7, so pick up a couple; a bottle of wine wrapped in one is a last minute step up from bringing booze in a brown bag, and it will come in handy long after the party’s over.
Piling homemade cookies or biscuits on a colourful serving platter — easy to find and affordable at thrift shops — wrapped in a tea towel or cellophane is a polished way to present them.
Beauty in a basket
Beauty and body-care products nestled in a small basket is another reliable choice, partly because central heating has begun to dry skin and hair, and hectic holiday schedules mean folks sometimes groom in a rush. For those reasons, I very much liked samples I was recently sent from OGX. The hair moisturizers are lightweight but effective, as is the foam dry shampoo, which can be put in the hair post-party and slept on for even better results. Very affordable as stocking stuffers, the line is widely available.
A delicate and detailed 20- by 23-inch botanical print on acid-free Italian paper from VdeV ($5.25) rolled up and tied with a ribbon would make a pretty gift, and look sweet popping out of the top of the stocking.
Ornaments – Not just for the tree
For new couples or recent homebuyers, a few sparkly ornaments make a good gift. Crate and Barrel has loads of exceptionally jolly options under $10. If you’re hosting, consider looping a gift tag with a name on it through the top of an ornament, and using it as a place card/party favour. Canadian Tire is another good source of fun, affordable ornaments — think teeny tucks laden with holiday trees — that work well for this.
Home cooks always love the chance to play with a new kitchen gadget. One that will probably become a favourite with bakers is a 13-inch whisk from Chef Anna Olson’s line at Hudson’s Bay. It’s made with a steel barrel handle and non-reactive stainless-steel wires. The large balloon shape creates maximum volume, and can be used on hot or cold ingredients. Dishwasher safe, it costs about $18. Another option is a 13-inch spatula made of natural beech wood with a head and ribbed sleeve in a seasonally-appropriate green silicone ($13).
The ultimate giveback gift
One way to share the spirit of the season is to send whatever you would have on a gift to a helping organization your pal supports. Get a card — perhaps one of the whimsical made-in-Canada cards from family run Green Bean Studio ($5 and up at the One of a Kind Show and online) — and write a short note expressing gratitude for being included in the festivities, and sharing news of the donation.