Published Sunday, 4th December 2022
By Helen Aitchison
It's that time of year again, where we all say, 'It can't be almost Christmas already!' When it only feels like a week ago that we were beginning a new year, filled with hope and promise.
However, this time of year can also be financially hard on us, and so many groups in our community. This Christmas, I asked friends not to buy our usual presents. I also asked family not to buy excessively for me, and stated I would do the same. We all have enough and I am more conscious than ever of the financial limits of people.
Instead, some of the money I have saved on not buying excessively, has been repurposed. I have told friends and family that we should focus on experiences, and I have been able to use some of my cash saved for a more needed purpose. Along with some of my family, and a few friends, we have bought items for hampers. In total, I have been able to produce ten hampers, going locally to neurodiverse adults in need through AutismAble and to over 70's via North Tyneside Age UK.
Perhaps this is something you could consider in your own networks?
Here are some further, reduced cost gift ideas that could give you a light bulb moment, or perhaps that should be fairy light moment!
Gift a journal: A simple notepad can make a wonderful gift. Customise it with craft bits, photos, and memories, before gifting it to a loved one. Add in a little prompt such as:
"Three things I am grateful for today…" and you have a handmade, personalised gratitude journal that has the extra gift of thought and love, priceless!
Meal invite token: How come a meal always tastes better when someone makes it for you? Simple beans on toasts becomes something on a Michelin star scale, when it is made by another person. Gift a friend a token to come to your house for dinner. I can guarantee it will be a gift gratefully received.
Cards and stamps: It always seems to be someone's birthday or we need to send a get well card, a thank you card or another acknowledgement. Why not buy someone a pack of cards, or two and a set of second class stamps (with barcode). Card Factory and The Works both have offers on greetings cards that are multi-purpose. Even write one of the cards to the person you are gifting them to, explaining how much they mean to you!
A poem or a letter: Bring back the old school and write someone a letter or a poem that expresses your relationship and memories. I can almost see their happy faces and how wonderful to have something they can read again and again, over the months and years?
Experience token: Make an IOU token for an experience you can have with a loved one. Whether it be something like a visit to a local theatre such as The Little Theatre, Gateshead or Live Theatre, Newcastle. Perhaps a local gig, or a local exercise class. Maybe even an activity at Gateshead Library. Token them, with a value limit and you can enjoy an activity together, which may lead to a new hobby or interest.
Handmade gifts: Make something unique such as a Christmas decoration, or knit a scarf. If you don't feel you are massively creative, how about printing a photo of you and a relative / friend and putting it in a frame? Or perhaps making a jar of positives from an empty jam jar, place ribbon and buttons on the jar, and fill with little notes about your loved one and their personality. It can be a great reminder as a positive thought or when someone needs a little pick-me-up.
Agree on no gifts but to donate your time: Many charities would benefit from your time this Christmas, including Crisis, Newcastle. The homeless charity is asking for help to support their services from now through until January. Roles include catering, warehouse, hairdressing, and driving. www.crisis.org.uk
Perhaps look into longer-term volunteering together in the new year.
Whatever gift you give and receive this Christmas, it is hoped you have a wonderful time and make some precious memories.