Let's face it, we're all broke this holiday season. And on top of that, we're already starved for time. Instead of passing on giving gifts this year, employ some meaningful strategies that will make you and your loved ones happy.
A picture's worth a thousand words, and smiles: Facebook can't fit all the great pictures of you and loved ones. We all have thousands of great and funny and artistic photos on our computers and stuffed away in boxes. Enjoy going through them to find one worthy of a frame or that would go in your friend's apartment. For frames, I recommend Target. The nice ones go for around $8 to $16 for 5x7's and slightly larger.
It's a wrap: Yes, the news is depressing these days (and the news pretty much always is anyway). But that shouldn't stop you from using your read newspapers for wrapping paper. If the English can eat their fish n' chips out of it, then newspapers are safe for gifts too. Just write an inspirational quote in thick marker across the page or on a little label to stick on your wrapped gift just so you counterbalance all that negative energy, in the paper.
Volunteer!: Your community needs you now more than ever. Give the gift of internet research to look up volunteer opportunities near you. And invite your friends with an email telling them you're giving them good karma this year. By working off your debt to the universe, you'll be putting a smile on the face of those who need your help the most.
For the DIY coordinated, here's a list off of some fun afternoon projects (by bringing in friends that counts as their gifts, as long as you buy the stuff!)
Make Soap: Ruben Anderson for Tree Hugger has laid out the process of making your own sweetly scented soap at home.
Make Paper Flowers: Craft these paper flowers offered up by Apartment Therapy. Buy a cheap lil' vase to complete your solifleur.
Just Bead It: Beading earrings is insanely simple and intuitive. The key, for first-time beaders especially, is to buy less, work with less, to produce a delicate pair. Most importantly you won't risk producing something tasteless. So when creating jewelry for others and you're not already doing it as a passion, then keep it simple.
Message Tops: We can't wear our Obama t-shirts forever (I will), but that doesn't mean we won't be craving to wear some inspiration. Put a message or (crude inside joke) on your friends chest by making a T or hoodie on Spreadshirt. I made a couple computer honcho and tech brilliant friends in Portland (two dudes) t-shirts that said, "Touch Anywhere to Begin." Got that from zoning out on my in-flight TV screen on Virgin Air.
Then of course there's always baking, drawing personalized cartoons, painting on small canvasses, framing inspirational quotes (I get mine from RefDesk.com), to helping your friend finally paint their wall or apartment.
This year, we're not going to lose any cheer, we'll probably in fact get more of it if we don't throw money at the ol' conundrum of what am I going to get people this year?
Follow Andrea Chalupa on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AndreaChalupa