Green Holidays- Small Gifts with Thought

by - Tuesday, November 21, 2017


My Aunt Joanna sent me this post about her general gifting anxiety (it can cause a lot of stress!) and some sweet small gifts that are big hits every time. I love it, so I will just post it in its entirety (all I added are links) with a few small gifts I have found to be great over time tagged on afterwards. Thanks, Aunt Joanna! 

I will be the first to admit that I find gift-giving very stressful. How can we possibly expect all the sentiments we have for a person to be expressed in a gift? Impossible!! This is crazypants. I am the lady you saw crying in the Christmas display, probably.

  Yet, gifting is the love-language of many people, and it is delightful to see people delighted by the time and effort we’ve put into finding Something Wonderful. Here are a few ideas of non-traditional gifts that are small and yet personal. Run away from those ubiquitous December articles about “Great gifts under $100” or “How to make the perfect homemade gift basket”.  Stick to what you know about people, and gift from your heart, not from your bank account. Embrace the small, the practical, the quirky. 

1. Block of maple sugar (Maple View Sugar Works on etsy) - For people who cook, and people who eat, this is so much fun and really affordable. Wrap it in plaid cloth or pair it with bread (cinnamon toast!!).

2. Quality scissors – seriously, a great gift. Kitchen or craft shears are indispensable yet most of us don’t bother to own a pair. Wrap them in butcher paper or a DIY article!

Ok, lots of great eco-friendly scissors (who knew!?). For recycled scissors, Westcott has great reviews and come in multiple sizesHeritage scissors are beautiful, have perfect reviews, and are made in America. Bianco Brothers kitchen sheers are made in America as well. 

3. Funky post it notes and quality pencils - a wonderful reminder at work that someone thinks you are special. Snarky post-its are the ultimate luxury item, make you smile, and you’d never buy yourself some.

I'm no snarky post-it expert, but I do like these from WittyGrittyPaperCoKnock Knock pads are the ones you see in stores, and they are designed in California, but I don't see a clear answer on where they are made.  

4. Expensive vanilla or cinnamon, or any exotic spice mix paired with a wooden spoon – I was once given a handmade wooden spoon expressly for stirring pots of applesauce, and I adore it. Don’t underestimate the Wonderful quotient of a single, necessary, item. Tie a big bow on them! 

5. Tea towels (from many etsy shops) - buy one or  two, roll them up, wrap them with a recipe or magazine article. Or put them in a mason jar with a ribbon on top. 

So so many etsy shops do tea towels (53,000 in the United States). Here are a few good ones- A2DCreationsfreshpastrystand, and my favorite ohlittlerabbit. If you want to do something with a lot of meaning, these tea towels can have your handwritten family recipes printed on them. 

6. Stamps and prints from socialprintstudio.com - a San Fran small business that makes lots of fun items. I use the Mighty Prints as postcards and mail them to our family throughout the year. But let other people in on the fun, and provide them with an effort-free way to contact their own family.

7.  Snarky sayings and personal quotes from etsy’s thecarboncrusader pencil shop. I’ve used this place again and again for small gifting and they are always a hit. Custom sayings are available for only a little bit more money, but plan ahead for Christmas

8.  Etsy’s Milk and Honey silverware is fun, too (MilkandHoneyLuxuries) we’ve given these as wedding presents. It’s vintage silverware stamp-printed with clever sayings. Again, plan ahead so you can check out the selection. These come ready-wrapped in adorable little gossamer bags. Too cute. 

9. Anything handmade. Seriously. You took the time to make something? I am in love with it already. You gave me your time. I could cry. A winner whether you are 4 or 40. 

Other ideas:  a box of 64 crayons with a sharpener in the back. Reusable straws.  Dryer balls. 3 or 4 odd magazines. Bookmarks. A year’s supply of garbage bags (this is my favorite 20-something gift. They are expensive! But totally necessary! Stole the idea from my mother in law). Basically you are thinking of things people like, but never buy themselves OR things they need and if you gift , voila!,the money is freed up for something more fun than garbage collection.

Don’t be embarrassed to buy small. Don’t feel silly if you are seeing ads for cars, coats, phones, sofas, computers….frankincense would fit in the palm of the wiseman’s hand, after all.

Buy local if you can, but not everyone has that as a good option. Just don’t stress yourself out, and if you see me in the store, I hope you have tissues.

These are great! Here are a few of the small gifts we have given or received that I really love:

Calendars - I make personalized calendars for our extended family every year, and I think people mostly like it? I recommend Artifact Uprising's cool, minimalist calendars.  

Syrup (or creamer) pitcher - Joanna actually bought us this for our wedding, and it is a straightforward gift we actually use pretty often (who doesn't love pancakes?)

A Small Donation- You know what makes me happier than almost anything? People planting trees. If you only have 20 bucks and are going for epic impact, give it to the Arbor Day Foundation and tell me about it. Most people (even and especially young people and children) have things they really care about that they can't fiscally contribute as much as they want to. I think this gift is so simple and so perfect. 

Cloth Napkins- Homey and Special, I have loved every cloth napkin we have received as a gift. Unsponges are also epically eco-friendly and practical gifts. 

One Meal Out, a Ball Game, a Movie, or a Museum Date- Give them a cute small print and tickets to the museum to be used later. Or to the aquarium. Or a college sports game. ANYTHING. Give them something to look forward to in the coming year. As long as you are a part and put some thought into it, they will love it. 



What seemingly small gifts have you received and really loved?

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5 comments

  1. Family heirlooms! Aunt Joanna once gave me two tiny chickens that are supposed to be good luck (I think they were from Great Aunt Emily). They cost nothing, they take up hardly any space on my windowsill, but I love getting stuff that has been passed down. Bonus points if it has a great story (like my chickens, which are from Spain).

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  2. Love the maple syrup block idea! So good

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  3. Love your suggestion of something of quality. As a crafter, high quality scissors are expensive but so worth it. But for years I used average $2 ones, I wish someone had given me a nice pair years before I bought my own. Also real maple syrup, vanilla extract, etc. is expensive so I can see that being a gift the grown ups hide from their kids ( I do!).

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  4. Yes I know a lot of people related gift-giving as a gest of love. But at the end of the day, they just get so stressed that at the end they are buying so tasteless and unuseful!😂 I prefer to alway give gift that the person can eat or an experience. Your ideas of gift are clever to! We all need a good scissor!😊

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  5. Love so many of these thoughtful ideas. I agree that anything handmade though is really a great expression of love and is worth a lot.

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