Wednesday, December 15, 2010

When Money Is Not The Object: Part I

Remember that bright Christmas morning filled with hope and excitement as you headed toward the glittering tree? 

Yes, the bicycle was there! But, nestled in amongst the gifts, was one of the worst presents you could ever imagine anyone taking the time to wrap (and it didn't come from Santa). You fill in the appropriate disappointment blank, we all have our personal favorites. Mine was the wrong doll. It wasn't the one I wanted at all.

It's at about this moment, a parent sees the dejection our young faces haven't yet learned to mask, and the famous reprimand we will recall for the rest of our lives is recited in a scolding tone:  "It's the thought that counts."

Fair enough. Fair enough, if there were thought and kindness, not expediency behind the gesture.

And that brings us to the first of the two part series on gifts that cost absolutely nothing, monetarily speaking. I asked some of my favorite blogging friends to tell us what they would give under these circumstances. Once again, they have proved what extraordinary women they are. Click on each of their names and you will be transported onto their blogs and into their worlds filled with the (free!) gifts they offer every day.

Thank you so very, very much. Your cadeaux are original, loving, and ever-so generous.

In their own words. . .

I have several ideas:

1.) I would give him a rescue animal, creating yet more love, and sharing the warmth and security of a happy home.

2.) I'd volunteer for a good cause; the gift to my beloved is that, when I'm contributing to others' well-being, I'm a more contented person, and therefore, easier to live with.

3.) I would, over one of his favourite dishes, make a toast that describes my appreciation for him -- not what he has done for *me*, but for the essence of his being.

1.) If you have a skill you know you are good at, offer that to your recipient, but write out a "voucher" beautifully and package it with tissue, ribbons, etc. and then place it in a little carrier bag.

2.) Offer to cook a complete meal and then clear away the debris and wash up and arrange the kitchen afterwards.

3.) If you are good at manicures or pedicures, a voucher promising one or the other or both would be a lovely gift. Or, perhaps offer a relaxing shoulder and neck massage.

  Finally, a little story about a gift I was given one Christmas which still makes me teary when I think about it. I was living in London -- newly married (first marriage, so it was over 22 years ago now!!). My in-laws had come for Christmas day and also my sister and brother. Sadly, my parents who I had not seen for six months could not make it -- they were living abroad -- my father was in the Forces and could not get leave.

  There we were, the small party undoing Christmas packages and I was rushing in and out of the kitchen checking on the traditional Christmas lunch when suddenly there was a loud knock on the front door. I remember saying to my brother, "Goodness, who on earth is at the door on Christmas day? Can you please go and see?" He shouted to me, "No, you go!"

  Well, I have to admit, I was a little annoyed as I was busy, but I went to the door and upon opening it got the surprise of my life. Standing there smiling broadly were my parents!

"We hope you've cooked enough for lunch -- can we join you?"

It was the best Christmas gift ever. (My brother and sister were in on the surprise.) 

So, sometimes just being somewhere with someone is the best gift of all time.

(Of course, the painting above is by Norman Rockwell.)

I love scent, and on my travels I have collected, and been gifted with boxes of lovely scented soaps. Perhaps influenced by the tradition of artistic wrappings in some of the countries I have visited, I began to wrap soap for gifts.

1.) One such design was a Chinese Fortune Soap which I wrapped in electric lime green tissue and purple ribbon -- a color palette straight out of old Shanghai. Then the wrapped soap was decorated with a small label of a Chines woman, and hidden inside a small sliver of colored paper with a fortune prediction (collected from the Internet).

2.) Then, there was a romantic French Love Token Soap wrap. A rose scented soap wrapped in Chinese silk paper, tied with a delicate, thin silk ribbon, embellished with a reproduction of an 18th century print of Cupid from my collection. Tucked inside, a love sentiment in French (also collected from the Internet).

3.) I have made a Vintage Christmas Soap wrapped with small sheets cut from some of my retro '40s and '50s Christmas gift paper, tied with candy cane striped string and topped with a tiny jingle bell.

Here are three of my ideas for gifts that say, "I love you. I appreciate you. I thought of you."

1.) The gift of nature: A bouquet of feathers collected at the beach, sea glass, a beautiful seashell, pressed leaves in a frame, smooth stones to play with while talking around a table, flowers from the garden.

2.) The gift of you: Start a blog. Chronicle daily events, share your recipes, thoughts on world events, etc. You will be amazed at how many of your friends and family will find it, read it, and appreciate it, even if they never comment or let you know. Really.

3.) The gift of heritage: Perhaps you have something that someone else has admired -- a tea cup, a favorite book, a piece of jewelry, or something they collect (like my collection of old Victoria magazines). Wrap it up and give it to someone who will appreciate it not only for its own attributes, but also for having once belonged to you.


Julienne said...

Every one of them beautiful and thoughtful. Have a very happy Christmas x

Deja Pseu said...

These are just lovely ideas!

materfamilias said...

As Lorrie says, these bloggers gift us all every day with their blogs -- now they and you gift us with the spirit of Christmas. Lovely!

ms. caboo said...

Wonderful ideas. I especially love the soap ideas. I don't know any woman who doesn't love a tiny bit of luxury presented in a beautifully wrapped package. It really is the intent of a gift that matters, not just giving a gift to someone because you feel you have to.

Beadboard UpCountry said...

Delightful! You are becoming xmas headquarters........Maryanne xo

Christina @ Fashion's Most Wanted said...

Dear Tish, what a wonderful list. I love to give something with heritage but you have definitely given me food for thought. Thank you so much for your comments. I am delighted to have found you. Your blog is an absolute joy! I've added you too so I don't miss anything xx

Dash said...

Tish, what a lovely idea for a post, and such wonderful ideas from fellow bloggers, it's certainly given me food for thought.

Lorrie said...

Thank you, Tish for inviting me to post. You gift us all with your writing.

Brenda Leyland said...

My first time visit.... Lorrie sent her readers here today. What a lovely blog. Beautiful in so many ways. Love your thoughts about gifts and Christmas.

PS. Lorrie, loved your posting here!

Wishing you glimpses of heaven in unexpected places......

Vee said...

Lorrie sent me here and I have enjoyed her thoughts and those of all the others, too. What a great idea to have bloggers share this way!

Chemin des Muguets said...

Holiday Greetings Tish,

Thank you for asking me to be a part of this special Christmas post. It was an honor. So many lovely and heartfelt simple gift ideas.


Beryl said...

Sarah's story of her fond memory of her parents' surprise Christmas visit was quite sweet in an American kind of way. Being half French, I can tell you that my mother and aunt would spend years being incensed that they were put through all that unnecessary disappointment, only to find that the parents were coming after all.

BODECI body said...

Thank you Tish! I was getting all bah humbugged and now I have some creative juices flowing. You're soaps are beautiful and thought provoking. I love scents, too and adore getting gift soaps. Yours are truly beautiful!

Belle de Ville said...

I like to give something lasting and somethign from nature, specifically fruit trees. There is something about giving something that will bear fruit in the years that come that appeals to me. I gave Mr BHB 4 dwarf citrus trees for his birthday. He will appreciate the gift even more in the future.

Semi Expat said...

Mille Mercis Tish for asking me to be part of this post - very honoured to be a part of it with the other lovely bloggers. x

Linda said...

What lovely ideas for gifts! Opening hearts and sharing of the self. Just perfect for Christmas.

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