Title quote from Huston Smith, Tibetan Book of the Dead
Here’s what the holiday season means to me – togetherness, love, joy, fun decorations, parties, and excitement about the upcoming year all shiny and new. Here’s what it doesn’t mean to me – gifts. I do participate in gift giving and I’m not so much holier than thou that I won’t accept a gift, but it does kind of burn my bottom that so many people feel obligated to go out and spend hours of their precious time buying all sorts of stuff that none of us really need and wrap them up all pretty and nice just to be ripped apart in under 5 minutes. I shared this frustration with The Herd last year and got an awesome suggestion to make my presents instead of buying them – a walk the walk sort of thing. My immediate reaction was elation followed quickly by concern over how I was going to get it all done. However, once I really thought about it I realized that as far as making things go, I only have one real skill set – cooking. So I decided to preserve a whole bunch of stuff for people. I don’t have a fancy canning pot but I do have a gigantic spaghetti pot and canning tongs, so that was good enough for me! I took a canning class earlier that year so I already knew the basics of how to can food, so it was just a matter of finding recipes which, thanks to the internet, is a piece of cake. I relied heavily on Mrs. Wheelbarrow’s Kitchen and I checked out a few books from the library including The Jamlady Cookbook and The Ball Blue Book of Preserving. Each recipe made about 6 pint-sized jars so I only ended up making about 4 or 5 recipes total which took basically one afternoon after I bought all of the supplies. Then I bought some baskets and cute fabric and got to putting together gift baskets with various combinations of my goods.Find out why I gave up giving #gifts & give THIS instead via @bookwheelblair #healthyholidays2015 Click To Tweet
I will admit that only worked for the adults. I knew children weren’t going to get quite so excited about zucchini ginger marmalade, so I did buy and wrap presents for the children in my life. I made it a point to hit up the small businesses in my area (hooray for Small Business Saturday) and I think I got some unique and thoughtful gifts that the kids really enjoyed. I also visited Etsy and found handmade wrapping paper. I loved that I could get wrapping paper that I thought suited the personality of each child, instead of every kid having the same paper from the mega tube they sell at Costco. It wasn’t cheap, but I just budgeted it into the cost of the gift so it ended up still being reasonably priced.
Thanks to some early planning with the help of The Herd I did all of my holiday shopping and cooking in about 3 days and everyone seemed to really appreciate their gifts. So much so that most people have asked for more homemade presents this year and I’ve already been informed that I’ll be receiving some homemade wares as well. All I have to say is, I hope I know someone who can knit because homegirl needs a winter hat.