I have been lame about giving gifts for the last many years. It is easy for me to look to look at the bizarre consumerism of Christmas and just disconnect from the whole process. Truthfully though, I love giving gifts! I also love my stuff, my objects, the gifts that people have given me. My things have stories that are meaningful to me. It seems silly that I should feel like I don’t want to participate in gift giving. So I am trying to reflect on the positive potential of objects and gift giving this year. Here is my conclusion…
The objects that you give and possess should…
- …connect you to the people who made them in a positive way.
- …allow you to make something positive to pass on to others.
- …. genuinely be useful in your everyday life!
So I’m sharing a list of gift ideas with you all. Some of them are gifts that you can make and some are gifts that you can buy. If you don’t want to make or buy gifts I recommend donating bees on someone’s behalf through Heifer International.
GIFTS TO MAKE
Gift giving has given me the most joy when I have had the time to make gifts myself. I like to give food gifts because, in case any of you haven’t picked up on this yet, I am obsessed with feeding people. Also in New York you really can’t give people “Stuff”. My friends all live in itty bitty apartments and are all old enough that they have acquired all of the stuff that their space can handle, but everyone has to eat!
Make some jars of Pickled Beets! They are festive, easy, good for you and cheap!
Make little jars of Candied Citrus Peel. You can keep them in syrup or roll them in sugar.
For friends who like to cook, make Garam Masala. Give a small amount since it should be used fresh. You could toast the spice mix and give it un-ground along with the cast iron spice grinder (scroll down). Plum or Cranberry Chutney would make a good gift.
GIFTS TO BUY
Trio Tiffins from Modcloth. If you have a friend who packs their lunch form home, trust me, this is a good gift. They come in other shapes and colors too. Put salad greens in one layer, fork and dressing in the next, and salad toppings in the little compartments.
These Foodie-tale plates designed by Rob Ryan available on Modcloth. They are soooo sweet. You can only give these to someone who is not afraid of sentimentality.
High quality whimsical tea towels from To Dry For. My mother and I spent an entire evening on the phone looking at this website together cooing and laughing over the tea towel designs. It was a long distance mother daughter shopping trip.
Handcrafted wooden and leather bird calls from Canoe. These are beautiful objects that make amazing sounds. The Morning Dove, House Sparrow and American Robin bird calls are pictured above. Birdwatching is not the only use for these…sound effects for puppet shows, experimental music compositions, driving your cat insane…
Cast Iron spice grinder from Canoe. The spices go in the bottom chamber. The smaller chamber sets inside the bottom one and is twisted to grind the spices. You can store your ground spices in the smaller chamber. The cork lid keeps them fresh! Your spices will be infused with iron, which is good for you!
These beautiful old-fashioned paper dolls are printed by Bowne and Co. Stationers at the South Street Seaport Museum. It is the last of what used to be a thriving neighborhood of letterpress business in lower Manhattan.
When you visit, you can see what a typical job shop might have looked like int he 1870s, complete with antique letterpress.
In addition to being an amazing piece of NYC history, the shop actually prints all kinds of witty and beautifully designed cards, posters, note books, advent calendars and what not. Their stock changes frequently. It is a treasure trove!
And finally, the gift of beans….
Glorious old-fashioned, heirloom beans from Rancho Gordo New World Specialty Food. These beans are beautiful, delicious and supportive of seed diversity. This is the gift sampler that comes in a nice wooden box along with a Rancho Gordo Tote Bag. They also have a desert island sampler that includes five of the prettiest looking beans I have ever seen. They also have beans that they sell in partnership with a Mexican seed saving project. Yum!