The 2011 Gift Challenge

Now that we’re a little past the holiday season, are you looking back with any regret that you couldn’t do something more for gifts outside of simply buying stuff?
Do you want to try to cut down your debt?
Are you tired of feeding the consumer beast and trying to outdo others on the gifts you buy?
Do you tell yourself after every season that NEXT year you’re going to make more gifts, then never manage to get around to it?


What WOULD Jesus buy? An excellent documentary about the Church of Stop Shopping, along with a look at the rampant consumerism still prevalent in the United States.

As part of my ongoing work to lead a simpler life and not spend so much money on “stuff,” I do hereby propose a challenge to myself and the rest of you. Make some of the gifts you plan to give for Christmas/Yule/Winter holiday of your faith. If you already do this, perhaps this is the year to craft birthday or anniversary gifts?

Why should you join me in this challenge?
Reduce your debt. How often do you look at your credit card bills in January and wince? The average American household carries $8,000 in credit card debt and far too many people in this country live beyond their means. What do we have to show for it? Piles of stuff, stress, worries over money, and an overall poor quality of life.

Reclaim the spirit of the holidays. The tradition of gift giving came in part from my Germanic ancestors celebrating Yule, the return of the light after the darkest day of the year. Incidentally, gifts then were often food or handmade items. For Christians, Christmas is a time about celebrating the birth of Christ. For Jews, December includes Hanukkah, which celebrates the rededication of the Second Temple and the miracle of the small amount oil for the lamp lasting for eight nights instead of one. Several cultures in the world both past and present had some sort of holy time around this time of year. Learn about them and perhaps honor your ancestors by taking up some of those cultural traditions again.

Flex your creative muscles. It’s pretty easy to walk into a store, pick out some items, and plop down paper money or plastic. It takes thought and time to make something for people. I think it’s also a greater show of appreciation and love to do something of this sort.

Your kin/Your children/Your friends already have more than enough STUFF. Let’s be honest, a lot of people in the USA have their material needs met. And then some. TVs for every room in the house, multiple cars, more clothes than they can wear, so much stuff they have a rented storage unit. Maybe it’s time to contribute less to those piles. If you’re thinking this sounds like a great idea, especially for yourself, check out The Story of Stuff and the documentary and book(s) Affluenza.

I will tell you all now what gifts I plan to make for this year.

For my niece K’s birthday, I will be making her a cross stitch. Her sister just got one last month for her birthday. Deadline for this being completed is the beginning of November, which means I want it done, ironed, and framed by then so I can ship it in time for her birthday.

K and her sister D will also be getting either a knitted or crochet purse from me for Yuletide. I need to find a pattern for this first.

I’d also like to make peppermint patties for people locally. A few months ago I found a link via Real Food Wednesday, but lost it when I had to wipe my hard drive. If you have a recipe for this, I would be very grateful if you shared it with me.

So here is what I suggest. Comment here with things you’d like to make for people as gifts. If you’re planning to make a new food, be sure to give it a test run long before you’re slated to give the gift. If you want to learn a new craft, start NOW. If you’d like a buddy to encourage you in your making, ask here. If you have recipes you’d like to share, post them. Also, please share this post with anyone you think might be interested. I will check in periodically through the year, both to update my progress and to also remind all of you about this option.

I’m sharing this post at Real Food Wednesday over at Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s blog and Simple Lives Thursday at GNOWFGLINS!

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7 responses to “The 2011 Gift Challenge

  1. I’m going to guess that the recipe you found was on Joyful Abode? http://www.joyfulabode.com/2010/06/10/homemade-york-peppermint-patty-recipe/ Alternatively, try googling “paleo peppermint patty” or “primal peppermint patty”. Tons of recipes! :-)

  2. This has been a goal of mine each year and each year I get closer and closer to it! :) Canned goods: jellies, jams, pickles, homemade granola, homemade recipe cards , hand made ornaments, crochet items, baked goods, fudge etc. A homemade Christmas is a wonderful goal… LOTS OF WORK, but very achievable if we start NOW!
    I’ve started my projects!!

    • syncreticmystic

      Awesome, Melanie! I still need to find patterns for my own Yule gifts but I know they are out there. One additional idea I am debating is crocheting some tree ornaments. In Sweden it’s common to put up paper baskets/bags shaped like hearts on the tree and put candies in them. My mom has some similar heart shaped ornaments she made long ago (but not as bags) and I think that it would be an easy way to make something really nice for people.

  3. Hi. Something we have done occasionally and which a friend’s family often do, is give each other vouchers for gifts. These vouchers can be for anything at all…eg a foot massage, tidying a siblings room!, a day’s work in a grandparent’s garden or house, breakfast in bed the only limit is one’s imagination. 8-)

    • syncreticmystic

      Always a good gift idea, yes. I need to remember that for myself; unfortunately there are not enough people in my physical vicinity for whom I’d do such gifts. Though maybe I should start offering to do yard work for others, just because I enjoy it and don’t get to do it much.

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