By Molly Green
One of my favorite gift-giving strategies is to focus on family gifts rather than individual gifts. This approach is an effective means of saving both time and money, two very important resources, especially this time of year. Deciding on one large present is much quicker than choosing several individual gifts. One large gift is often less expensive and of better quality than several smaller, individual gifts. A family-oriented gift also encourages families to take time to have some fun together and enjoy one another rather than a “trinket” gift for each person.
A little creativity in presentation can make all the difference between an average gift and a special one, so be creative. Over the years, I’ve built up a repertoire of gifts families love to receive. Take a moment to see if some of these gift ideas aren’t perfect for you. Present it with some creative packaging, I will guarantee you some happy gift recipients.
The easiest and least expensive on the list is the Family Movie Night package. Take a white cardboard paint tub from the hardware store and fill it with a two-liter soft drink, several bags of microwave popcorn, some large boxes of candy from the dollar store and a movie rental coupon. Create a gift card to look like a strip of film or ticket stub. A tub like this can be made for well under $10 and is easy to mass produce if you have several families you’d like to remember. Bump it up a notch by using a large glass, plastic or metal bowl and including DVD(s) rather than a rental certificate.
Who doesn’t love ice cream—especially when you get to make it just the way you like it? This gift looks extra special when presented in a big basket (from the dollar store, of course). Include a bunch of bananas, various toppings, sauces, nuts, a jar of Maraschino cherries and a $10 grocery store certificate for the purchase of ice cream and toppings. Search your dollar store for inexpensive sundae glasses, banana split dishes or dessert spoons to give the gift some extra punch. Create a gift card that looks like a banana or tub of ice cream.
We had a friend who gave us the same gift every year, and I always looked forward to it with eager anticipation. On Christmas Eve day, she would deliver her homemade version of Cinnabons along with a Mason jar of homemade hot chocolate mix. These yummy treats were to be enjoyed on Christmas morning. This gift was inexpensive and simple, but always my favorite to receive.
Fun and games
A family game night package can include inexpensive card games or a more expensive board game. Visit a game store, and you’ll find a surprisingly large selection of both types. Snacks could range from popcorn and candy to cheese, sausage and crackers to a batch of your favorite brownies or cookies.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love popcorn. Fortunately, it’s not too difficult to put together a gourmet popcorn gift basket. Make some caramel corn or popcorn balls, but don’t stop there. Search the Internet for “flavored popcorn recipes” and find everything from Jello-flavored, to pizza, ranch or cinnamon popcorn. Package each flavor in its own tin, box or basket and label appropriately. You can even go the extra mile and include recipes so the family can recreate their favorites.
Buy a great puzzle the family can work together. Include a cute and comfy pair of socks for everyone and some hot chocolate, and you’ve got the makings for a cozy winter evening. Include a wonderful apple pie or vanilla-scented candle to help set the mood. You could even bake them a real apple pie, for that matter.
Sports fan fun
Sports fans will appreciate a gift based around their favorite team or sport. Set the tone with a homemade Sports Fan Hand and include a mini-football, basketball or homemade pompoms. Depending on the sport being highlighted, you might include seat cushions, hand warmers, sun visors or knit caps, all in appropriate colors. Be sure to include water bottles, trail mix and peanuts.
Do you have an active homeschooler or a family of book lovers? What about putting together a package with personalized bookmarks and book plates? These elastic bookmarks are unique and easy to make. An Internet search for “printable book plates” will provide you with lots of options. You could even make your own from scrapbooking papers or buy some at your local bookstore. Include a great family read-aloud or a favorite book on CD.