Life was a lot easier you gave what came from your heart and your hands: a potholder or handkerchief for a lady, pens or knitted socks for the men. One might make for a child a stuffed doll or a set of building blocks.
Children love to open presents. It doesn't matter much what is in them, because they will always be surprised. Some children enjoy themselves enormously just wrapping up their old toys and books and giving them to their brothers and sisters. When a homemaker goes through her things and tries to eliminate the clutter, she may end up with a good collection of gifts that can be passed on. The recipient is then free to pass the gift on to anyone she likes.
The dollar stores are a good source for gifts. It is nice to take a little gift bag filled with scented candles, soaps, or even kitchen utinsels, bought from these great discount stores. Don't think that dollar stores contain products of inferior quality. Some times the stock comes from high-end stores, or have major name-brands on it. The more expensive stores have to make room for the newest lines and will sell the older stock to these stores. If you learn to look for quality, you will get good gifts at the dollar store. Just recently these stores had large cooking utinsels made of high quality stainless steel, costing only one dollar each. In other stores, they are up to $5.00 per item.
For a homemaking High Tea that we will be having, the guests will each receive a bag with a dish towel, scented candle, cookie cutter, and crocheted doily, all from the dollar store. These were purchased in multiples: "four for a dollar," or "two for a dollar," making them even more economical.
It would be a relief if women could teach themselves to be content with simple gift-making and gift-giving. Sometimes they feel that one little thing is just not enough, and they go overboard. If you are very busy and feel pressured, there are a number of young, single girls at home who would probably allow you to commission them to make gifts, such as hand made cards, hair ties, handkerchiefs, hot pads for the kitchen, crocheted items, or embroiderd cloths. For someone who loves a tea party: a tea party box containing homemade shortbread or scones, a bag of tea and a tea cup. Tea cups can be purchased at second hand stores and Goodwill, sometimes for under a dollar. There is no need to match the saucers exactly, as they are most charming when they are slightly different.
A tape recording of a story you read, or tell, or a little hand made book or scrapbook, would probably be a delight to just about anybody.
When you have had family and friends for many years, you might find yourself giving the same thing over and over. Didn't I give my sister in law a candle-holder last year? I can't remember? For this reason, it might be fun to start a gift book to record the occasion and the gift that you gave.
Gifts can be geared toward the interest of the person. For a gardener: a new plant, gardening magazine, special hand cream for gardeners, a pretty pot. For a seamstress: a round box of the new threads on the block with all the metallics and sheens, a new measuring tape that folds up automatically in its own decorative case, a pin cushion.
Flowers are always loved and appreciated. It is better if you have a special cutting garden at home and can give your own flowers. Zinnias are easy to grow, even for those who just don't have any luck at gardening, they come in all colors, are usually long stemmed, and make a beautiful bouquet. A single rose at a grocery store is about $1.00 and can be given in a jar that you have at home. Just cut the stem to fit the jar. One of my favorite jars for flowers is from Motts apple juice. The single-drink bottle has a narrow neck, just right for one flower, and the bottle is shaped like an apple, with embossed apple leaves at the top.
The most cherished gift is the gift of a letter telling the person the may ways in which they have influenced you and the qualities they have that you delight in the most, along with an entertaining bit of chit-chat about every day life.
The best ideas for sensible gift giving will, of course come from the comments on this blog.
"The Gift is Yourself" from Petit Louvre Gallery