Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Natural Holidays

We are all for gift giving but feel things have gone overboard, and we want to give out some ideas for keeping your holiday spending in line without diminishing the holiday warmth. There are so many opportunities for sharing joy without spending a lot of money doing it. A hand made gift means a lot these days, and the time you spend making the hand made gifts can be a great time of bonding for your own family.

Let's start with birthdays. Today's birthday parties are now being hosted at restaurants or special party facilities, so the home-made, at-home birthday party is a rarity any more. All the more reason to cherish them and keep making them happen. Our own children have many fond memories of the home-made birthday parties we have all created together. The child picks out a theme, and then the fun begins as the whole family hunts through books and websites, collecting directions for crafts, decorations, games and party favors related to the theme. My wife is a talented artist and enjoys creating one of her special pin the _____ on the ______ a variation on pin the tail on the donkey. Our son's favorite was her "Pin the wheel on Lightning McQueen" game for his 'Cars' themed party.

Birthday cards are becoming more and more rare as people turn to emailed greetings. Store bought cards are still nice, but even better is to make a card yourself or order a hand made card directly from the artist. Many talented artists now offer hand made cards direct from their own websites. Support an artist and buy a nice collection of hand made cards to keep in the house so you will be ready for the next occasion.

People just have so many possessions these days that our homes are becoming filled with clutter. Keep from adding to your friend's clutter by giving a consumable gift. There are wonderful gifts in a jar recipes for soups, bath salts and potpourri, for example. You can find online directions for making your own jar candles, which is a very useful and beautiful gift.

Another favorite consumable gift is a food gift such as a small plate of mini cupcakes. This is especially nice at Valentine's Day, when you can bake up a big batch of red velvet cupcakes. Red velvet cupcakes are a deep rich chocolate cupcake, and for Valentine's Day you can always put on red icing or white icing with red hearts. Red velvet cupcakes have been a favorite for a very long time. We recommend baking up a large batch at Valentine's Day, making mini cupcakes, and give a mini cupcake along with a hand made Valentine's Day card. Now that is a winning combination!

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