Stop the present panic!
Christmas is approaching, creeping ever nearer and I know that some people will be starting to panic thinking ‘I have no idea what to get people for Christmas.’ I was this person for a while. I didn't know what to get anyone for Christmas and I was panicked. Panicked that they wouldn't get here in time, panicked that I'd forgotten someone, panicked that they wouldn't like their gift and panicked that I'd spent too much money and realistically couldn't afford it.
That's where this article comes in. I am going to give you some fun present ideas that in my experience, I have bought and my friends have loved or I have received and I have loved. They're mostly very affordable or even homemade but I can guarantee that they are some of the most thoughtful valuable gifts you could ever give or receive.
For my 18th birthday, my darling best friend made me the most beautiful thoughtful gift I have ever received. She made me a scrapbook filled to the brim with pictures and memories and quotes. The most amazing thing about it was she made it all by buying a notebook, some Post-it notes, a glue stick, some pens and using a free photo printing website. She stuck the photos on each page, wrote down where the photograph was taken and what the event was and used Post-it notes to create breathtakingly beautiful designs. It was such an affordable gift but it had such an impact on me and I couldn’t have possibly wished for anything more. You don’t even need the Post-it notes or an expensive woven silver diamond encrusted notebook - it can be the cheapest notebook you can find. The reason for this gift is one of the best gifts to be given is the thought behind it, and for that, it is priceless
2. A star
Something I bought my friend for her 18th birthday was a star. You’re probably thinking ‘a star? Why did you buy her a star? You mean, a fake star.’ No, I don’t mean a fake star. I bought her a real star. Of course, that didn’t mean I went to space, captured a star, put it in a box and gave it to her. What I mean is I bought her a ‘Name a Star’ kit. This involves a star being assigned and the receiver of the gift can then name the star whatever they like. I bought my star kit for a very affordable price and it’s surprising how inexpensive they are honestly. This was perfect for my friend because she is extremely interested in stars and space but even for someone who isn’t a space enthusiast, it’s a lovely thoughtful present.
3. Memory jar/jar of smiles
Back in 2014, I had a friend who was going through a really hard time. I wanted to do something special for her that might help her feel a bit better or at least help her remember how loved she was. So I had the idea of making a Jar of Smiles. I’d seen them online but I thought it was so much more special to make it myself, and rather than only give her enough ‘smiles’ for a month, give her enough ‘smiles’ for a year. So I spent weeks handwriting quotes and motivation on 365 tiny bits of paper and folding them up, desperately trying to stuff them into a jar without them exploding everywhere. But when she got it, she was particularly touched and it helped her mental health improve a lot. It cost me nothing except the postage as I had saved a jam jar to put them all in. You could replace the quotes with memories of you two or you could just give them the jar and a pad and some pens and they could fill it themselves - my mum’s best friend did this for her and my mum still uses it to this day.
4. Care package
Someone I knew was in the hospital for quite a while and I and my friends didn’t get to see her as it was family only but we didn’t want her to forget about us or think we’d stopped caring so we gave her mother a huge care package to give to her from us. It was full of drawings, snacks, toiletries, letters, cards - all sorts just to remind her that we were thinking of her and sending her our best. The snacks were from a discount sweet store where you could get huge bags of perfectly good sweets for ridiculously low prices and the toiletries were a part of those big gift sets you can get. According to her mum, she loved it and I think that no matter what circumstances require a care package, it is perfect.
5. Baking in a jar
This is a gift which can be made or bought. I bought it when I decided to give someone this gift but I think it would be just as lovely, if not lovelier, to make it. The whole concept of ‘baking in a jar’ is that you put all the ingredients someone may need to make cookies or cake, or whatever treat you desire, into one jar so they can just chuck it all in a bowl and it’s done. It’s the easiest way to make a cake, which is great if you want to bake but can’t bake. Then you can eat them together!
If baking isn't their thing but it is yours then rather than making them bake something, you could bake something for them. A friend of mine did this for every Christmas and birthday because she had very little to no money of her own to spend. She was a phenomenal baker and loved to bake and cook so that was her solution for inexpensive presents. Sure, they aren't something you can keep forever with priceless value but they have their own sentimental value and everyone loves cake, don't they?
7. A personalised calendar
There are multiple ways to achieve this one. You can either buy and pay for one online which is likely to cost a tenner or two or you can make one yourself. One of my friends made them for all her other friends. She bought little calendar pads and inserts and printed off photos of things they liked, such as Harry Potter and Supernatural and stuck the photos and the calendar inserts onto a piece of black card and there was a cute little homemade calendar. If you want it to be even more personalised, you could print off photos of you and the receiver of the gift together. If you don't own your own printer, you could probably use one at school or college or use a free photo website as I mentioned earlier.
8. A Collage
My friend who did the calendar didn't have enough calendar inserts for us all so for some of us, she did the same thing but without the calendar part. A collage can be a nice thing to hang or stick on your wall to fill some space and if a friend has taken the time to think about it and make it, it's even nicer. It doesn't matter that it didn't cost much if anything. It was really a lovely gift to receive and it's still on my wall to this day, despite the fact I'm not friends with her anymore. It's a really sweet gift.
9. Friendship vouchers
I've never given this as a birthday or Christmas gift but I did something similar for my dad for Father's Day once. I bought him a little book full of ‘daughter vouchers’ which said things like ‘this entitles you to one car wash from your daughter’ or ‘one hug from your daughter.’ Just silly little things like that. So what I'm thinking if you could do this for a friend instead of at Christmas and make your own vouchers. It doesn't even have to be for a friend, you could do it for anyone. Make your own vouchers especially for them to give them things you know they'll like. For example, my best friend really likes going to the cinema. It's been a tradition since we became friends that we go to the cinema to watch horror films together. So one voucher for her could be ‘a trip to the cinema’ where you could maybe pay for her ticket or maybe not even that but just a guarantee that you will go to the cinema together. I think this is a really sweet idea and I know that I would adore it.
10. Christmas crackers
This may seem like a bit of a weird one and you might be thinking ‘why would I give someone a box of Christmas crackers?’ Well, these aren't normal Christmas crackers. They aren't the ones with party hats and stupid jokes and weird toys inside. They're personalised. My aunt did this for our family a few years ago and we got one each for the dinner table after our proper present but you could make more and make that the proper present. Inside the cracker was something specific to us. It could be a little bottle of your favourite alcohol or soft drink or some nail varnish or a lipstick. Just little things but it's little things that remind you of them. It's the thought that counts and this requires a lot of thought. It is most likely one of the more expensive gifts on the list as you have to buy the contents of the crackers but it's worth it in the end.
Those are my top ten ideas for gifts I think anyone will love this Christmas. A lot of them are homemade and full of thought and love and will be cherished by those who are lucky enough to receive one.
Please let us know if you use any of them, we would love to hear your stories!
Merry Christmas, everyone!
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