With the cloud of Covid-19 hanging over all of us – the whole world, really – this year, I think there’s this even greater appreciation this holiday season for each other. The main thing any of us want this year is for our family and friends to be safe and healthy, and that we get to spend some time with them over the holidays.
Presents aren’t the most important thing about Christmas. That’s something we learn more and more each year, but 2020 has been a clear reminder of that. And I feel that as many of us are spending this festive season away from family, the reason for the season is highlighted – and that’s being with the people we love and care about, sharing experiences, bonding over special moments, making memories.
Presents are tokens of our appreciation. It’s us trying to encapsulate how we feel about someone into something tangible. It’s us trying to convey messages like, “Thank you” or “This made me think of you” or “You’ve made 2020 a little better”.
There’s no need to break the bank though. Heartfelt messages, homemade crafts and baking goods are excellent ways of showing the people in your life that you care about them – they’re labours of love after all. But if you’re struggling to find the time or energy to make presents (don’t overwork yourself!), here’s some ideas for simple things to make and things to add to your Christmas shopping list!
#1 – Send Christmas e-cards this year
E-cards are the perfect alternative to physical cards this year. Not only is it free, but there are loads of sites that allow you to create your own special cards for free. My favourite is Canva because it’s straightforward to use, and has a ton of free templates and graphics.
Top tip: Take it one step further and create a PowerPoint presentation with animations and photos of memorable moments.
This is a simple Christmas e-card I created on Canva.
#2 – Get busy in the kitchen
Cook or bake something. Perhaps it’s some gingerbread cookies, a vegan cake or cupcakes, a pot of stew, a casserole dish – whatever you’re up for making and think the recipient may enjoy.
Top tip: Write them a little note, maybe tie a little ribbon and you’re set!
#3 – Write a letter
I love getting letters. My childhood friends and I used to send each other letters at Christmas and birthdays, and they’re the best keepsakes. They’re all tucked away safely in a drawer back home, and hold so many memories and some really hilarious jokes. They’re simply priceless. And yet, they’re virtually free to make – I’m sure you have a pen and paper lying around somewhere!
Top tip: If there are children in your family, why not make them a letter from Father Christmas! It’s a cute present, and one they’ll be so excited about.
#4 – Pitch in towards a present
Get together with a few friends or members of your family and split the cost of a present. For instance, you can share the cost of your parents’ present with your siblings. That way, you minimize the individual cost of the present whilst still gifting something substantial.
Top tip: Get something everyone can enjoy, and can last a long time.
- An air fryer
- A coffee machine
- A board game
- A tent
- A record player
- A rug
#5 – Check out the charity shops
I’ve found some pretty great (and cheap!) Christmas décor pieces from charity shops this year. I found a 12-inch tall tree-shaped candle for £1, a large star to sit atop my tree for £2, and some bin liners made to look like Christmas pudding for £1. All much cheaper than I’d be able to get them anywhere else. I’ve spotted a bunch of other items in the shops that would make great presents, and so many of them are good as new, or with tags still attached. Plus, it’s all for a good cause!
Top tip: If you spot some second hand clothing that you’d like to gift, think about upcycling them with a little embroidery! It’s a great way to personalize an item.
Some other ideas:
- Books, CDs, DVDs
- Decorative plates
- Vases (You can add some fresh flowers too!)
#6 – Don’t forget to check for student discounts
If there’s something you really want to get for yourself or others, don’t forget to check whether they offer discounts for students – most places do. Have a look on Unidays or Studentbeans to start with, but also check individual sites to make sure you have the best deal.
#7 – Make your own bath bombs
I don’t think I’ve had as many baths in my life as I’ve had this year! It’s been a quick and pretty effective way to de-stress and unwind, and based on what I’ve seen online, many others are finding some comfort in a warm bath at the end of a long day of work. Here’s an easy-to-follow bath bomb recipe. Use some food coloring, add in some yummy scents, and package in some jars or brown paper lying around your home.
Top tip: Use any cookie cutters you have lying around to make some fun shapes!
#8 – Have a look at the offerings of local business in your area
Small businesses across the country need our support more than ever. So if you are going to purchase presents, do have a look at whether there are any small businesses in your own towns and cities that you could use your patronage.
Top tip: Some pubs are selling their stock, so do check with ones local to you!
Some Manchester-based small businesses:
- Nordic Muse – jewelry, stationery, home decor
- Fan Boy 3 – board games, card games
- Benji’s – mugs, candles, vases
- Still Life Story – kitchenware, art, storage
- B & V – all things doggy like collars, treats, toys, bowls
For more ideas, here’s a few articles to check out:
- 8 ways to have a more sustainable Christmas
- Cutting the cost at Christmas
- Simple ways to get crafty in Lockdown
- Shopping savvy this Christmas
Have a Happy Christmas!