Monday, June 15, 2009

Simple Living: Heartfelt Gifts

The simple act of giving gifts - for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, or to thank a hostess - is often far from simple. Your desire to give a gift that expresses your affection and blesses the recipient may be complicated by financial limitations, time constraints, or a genuine desire to avoid encouraging materialism and overconsumption.  Gift giving can be in line with simple living if you apply some creativity to the process.

Although everyone appreciates an extravagant gift now and then, often a simple gift that shows some forethought and care will be better received than a hastily purchased off-hand present. Slow down and consider who will get your gift: what are her likes and dislikes? What are his particular needs? Do you have any skills or resources that would bless that person in a particular way?

Simple Living: Gifts of Service

Perhaps you have more time than money. Gifts of service are wonderful indeed! Perhaps you could give a gift of babysitting to new parents, or offer to bring a dish to help a party hostess. Maybe your elderly relative would appreciate you spending an afternoon doing some maintenance work or weeding the garden. Your spouse might enjoy a "date night" at home with a specially prepared meal served by candlelight after the children go to sleep. In our busy world, time is a gift not to be taken lightly!

Homemade Gifts that Support Organic Gardening and Sustainable Farming

If you want to give a gift to a person who seems to have enough "stuff" you might consider a perishable present such as a homemade pie baked with local fruits, a jar of honey from a local bee keeper, or a bottle of vanilla made from Ugandan vanilla beans! Include a note describing where you got the materials and you might also interest your recipient to take part in the local economy and support sustainable farming!

You may have skills that lend themselves to creating handmade gifts too. Could a gentleman on your list use a scarf this winter hand-knitted with wool from local sheep? Could you embroider a baby bib with a new arrival's initials? Could you use stamps and fabric paint to embellish inexpensive storebought dishtowels or aprons? Could you make a wreath with dried flowers or fresh greens?  Your yard or local farm is a great source of materials.

Don't forget to look around your garden for gift ideas. Bouquets of cut flowers like zinnias, phlox and daisies make lovely hostess gifts, as do fresh vegetables from your organic garden. New homeowners might like a housewarming gift of plant cuttings or bulbs thinned out from your established flowerbeds. Herbs are easily grown in pots and provide a gift that keeps on giving for months!  You can encourage your family and friends to try organic gardening with your gift, and offer to help them with what you've learned about natural living.

What are some simple, heartfelt gifts you have given or recieved? We'd love to hear your ideas!

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