If you’ve read my blog you know that I’m all about finding ways to make life more authentic while at the same time easier on you and easier on the planet. My strategy towards gift-giving is no different. Which is why I have 3 “signature” gifts that get me through most of the year. What’s a signature gift you ask? To me, it’s a gift that you enjoy giving and that reflects part of who you are that can be re-purposed again and again (meaning you can give it to many different people.) Of course, a good gift should also be appreciated by the recipient and be useful (in my mind, if it’s not useful, what’s the point.)
I personally love to cook, so my three signature gifts revolve around food. The really cool unexpected part of giving signature gifts is that once you get a reputation for giving them, people start looking forward to them. For instance: as soon as December 1st rolls around my friends start asking me when they’ll be receiving my signature Christmas cookies. For many of my friends, my cookies have become a part of their own holiday tradition and that is very satisfying. Plus, by giving something that I make I can ensure that I’m not harming the environment by giving it. Also, it takes a TON of stress out of gift-giving because I don’t have to think about buying 30-thoughtful-perfect gifts every holiday season. I can save that stress for birthdays, which at least are spread out through-out the year.
So here are my 3 signature gifts that get me through the year:
1. Signature “new baby” gift: a four-pound turkey lasagna (or eggplant parmesan for vegetarian friends), loaf of crusty bread and bottle of wine. I was once told that a home-cooked meal is the best gift for new parents because they have so little time to cook for themselves, and eating out every day isn’t always affordable. I chose lasagna because most people like Italian food and it keeps well so the parents can freeze half of it for later if they like.
2. Signature holiday gift: snowball cookies. We try and reuse tins and bottles that we’ve kept from the year for packaging, but we’ve also been known to use new Chinese take-out boxes for this. We print out custom stickers that we seal or label the boxes/bottles with.
3. Signature cocktail party or dinner party gift: my family is from Hawaii and my favorite salt comes from there. Whenever I’m visiting I buy a few bags of the salt and I repackage it in small bottles (usually the bottles that I buy my saffron in once they are empty) with a small card that says “friends are the salt of the earth.”
My signature gifts really help take the stress out of gift-giving for me, and are always well-received. In figuring out what your own signature gifts should be I’d recommend thinking about giving something that you like to put together. For instance:
– music lover: make a mixed CD of great songs from the year
– knitter: make a scarf or potholder (I can always use either!)
– artist: create a signature card and print enough copies to give everyone a dozen or so
– are you handy: give everyone a coupon for one-hour of random “fix-it” around their house
Think about what your friends would appreciate that only you can give. If you don’t like to make things, another suggestion would be to find something unique to the region where you live. For instance, there is a local soap or candle-maker in just about every city. Support your local economy AND send your friends something they can’t get anywhere else.
Alegre Ramos is a green living consultant and interior designer from Los Angeles, CA her website is green-and-greener