Ah yes, the dash to the store, just the right gift for all those on your list. But with the economy in such dire straights many of us are finding there’s not a lot of dash left, and even if there is, who’s got the cash to buy?


A wise Chinese sage once said, may you live in interesting times- the translation being difficult times that require interesting solutions and innovative ideas. That being said here are simple creative gift ideas that are green, cheap and will be treasured for years to come.


One great 3 ½ X 2 ½” black and white photo of my parents, circa 1935 sailing on Lake Superior, enlarged on photo quality paper and framed inexpensively made wonderful gifts for my siblings, niece and nephew. Many home scanner printers have this capability, or Walgreen’s will enlarge them for a small fee.


Consider gifts of time such as volunteering, gift certificates for favors such as babysitting, free lawn care, taking down the Christmas tree. You can make your own certificates on the computer; a color printer would be nice, but certainly not necessary.


Buy, bake or make. Handmade items with less packaging make wonderful gifts. Wrap them in old gift bags, comic or magazine pages instead of wrapping paper.


Start some bulbs such as paper whites. Pot them in last summer’s plastic pots with some decorative foil and a piece of ribbon.


Buy bulk fruits, preferably organic, a bag of nuts, dates and figs and make your own fruit baskets. That way everyone will get what they like.


Thinking about a gift for your home? While you are waiting for a windfall to pay for new windows invest in some low E-window film. This plastic film- (the same film that is applied to new replacement windows) that you can install yourself can reduce heat loss through those old windows as much as 40%.  A gift that gives all year, puts money in your pocket, reduces carbon emissions and keeps your warmer in the winter, and a little cooler in the summer. Now that’s a gift.


If you enjoy the beauty of a live tree why not buy a potted one that you can plant in the yard come spring. Smaller yes, a little more work moving it in and out, but you have something that’s still living at the end of the season. Think of it as a gift to our beautiful orb home, she could really use another tree.


What about a few more smiles given freely to all that you pass, a friendly word instead of a cold silent stare? You might be pleasantly surprised how many kind words and smiles you get back.


We’ve all been looking for ways to de-commercialize Christmas. Now we have it. Instead of being a Scrooge about it, let’s embrace it. These are challenging times we live in but certainly interesting. Till next time, Rebecca