3 Better Holiday Gifts

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Ideas for the best holiday gifts always sail by through the year and get forgotten here in crunch time. I can’t tell you how many times what I end up with under the tree feels uninspired, unimaginative, and just plain unlike me. It’s a set full of convenient alternative pressies, the hastily planned and wrapped equivalent of a drugstore gifting run done Christmas morning.

With that, here are three of the ideas my brilliant friends have inspired, memorialized here in case you find them equally helpful.

1. Eclectic Stationery Mix

This is courtesy of my friend Ginny, who always thinks of the most creative gifts. A few years ago, she gathered multiple sets of nice stationery–a mix of cards and postcards, and she created custom eclectic sets for multiple people. So rather than getting one box of blank cards, I got a few of these, a few of those. Lovely French postcards, whimsical black and white blank cards with rich linen envelopes, fun light blue thank you cards with a pattern. She wrapped them up tight with soft ribbon and tucked a book of stamps inside. Would be great to also tuck in a nice pen!

2. Holiday Beer Bread

With the onslaught of holiday sweets, it’s nice to have a savory recipe in your back pocket for that unexpected extra gift you need to give on no notice. Doug perfected this recipe two Christmases ago when we were tree-triming, and it’s been a hit since. It makes a mild beer bread that’s a nice appetizer for a crowd watching a game or a holiday gathering. Super simple: Mix 3 c. self-rising flour, 3 1/2 tablespoons of sugar, and a bottle of Hoegaarden beer. Grind in a few twists of your sea salt shaker or throw in a pinch of salt. Pour into greased 9×5 pan and bake at 350 degrees for 45 mins. Cool. Wrap in plastic wrap, cover with a tea towel and a ribbon, and gift with a jar of homemade or fancy store bought jam or jelly. Apricot or peach jams are our favorites with this bread.

3. Money Jar

Local craft or home stores often have good sales on elegant or funky vases, vessels, and jars this time of year. A long time ago, my friend Kim told me about the dime jar tradition her dad started with her and her sisters when they were kids. He bought everyone a fancy, large jar to save dimes in as they grew up. You can imagine–dimes are quite small and thin, and this was a big, big jar, so by the time it filled up, I’m imagining a huge pile of savings perfect for putting toward vacation, college tuition, or a special splurge.

I’ve adopted a similar tradition–saving $5 bills I get and putting them in a fancy spot. Share the saving fun with friends by finding that perfect jar that goes with their home decor and getting them started with that first sleeve of coins or the first $5 bill and a small slip with saving instructions. Works equally well for any denomination, and is particularly nice for teens, friends saving for a vacation, or kids just getting started with saving money.

All these gifts are low on the fuss and shopping–which is part of the reason I love them so much.

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