Simple, Thoughtful & Quick Gifts
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It is easy, in the age of the internet, to grab a gift off of someone’s wishlist or pick up a gift card in the checkout line (both of which are totally fine—not throwing any shade here). Unfortunately it isn’t always possible to sit down and contemplate a truly thoughtful gift for every occasion. And, given the cost of everything anymore, it’s always difficult to find a present that is personal without gifting clutter or getting spendy. In thinking about this minor dilemma of homemaking in our own lives, we wanted to collect some simple, thoughtful gifts that are easy to keep on hand for namedays, anniversaries, going-away parties, housewarming parties, Mother’s/Father’s Day, or any other occasion where a meaningful gift is appreciated. For all these ideas, keeping some notecards or greeting cards on hand for a handwritten touch really makes the gift (and prevents extra trips to the store). Read on for some of our favorite ideas!
1. A commonplace book. This is a fantastic gift for a wide variety of people—male or female, young or old, creative or practical, relative or friend (or even for acquaintances). Popular since the Middle Ages, a commonplace book is simply a central place to keep note of ideas, quotations, and inspiration. It helps to make connections in the things you find meaningful, can help you remember what you found important or were stuck on during specific periods of your life, and is endlessly flexible. In mine (a grandchild of the original I began in college), I have handwritten notes next to sketches next to items clipped or pasted from the wild. To gift a commonplace book, simply select a notebook (I like unlined, but lines or dots would also work) that suits your recipient and include a copy of our printable instructions for a commonplace book. Voila! These are easy to keep on hand for all manner of occasions, and are great for kids from middle school up.
2. Seed collections. If you need a gift for a cook, nature lover, or gardener, keep some seed collections on hand for gifting. They can be small enough to fit in a greeting card, and come in a variety of options—salsa or herb gardens, cut flower or pollinator gardens, kitchen gardens, varieties that are great for kids—and make a great quick host(ess) gift. Depending on what you choose, these are great for men or women, homeschoolers, homesteaders, cooks, beekeepers, flower lovers, or gardeners.
3. Perpetual calendar. A simple calendar that allows you to keep track of your recurring monthly occasions is both pretty and practical. These are great for teachers, godmothers (or goddaughters), newlyweds, relatives, friends, you name it!
4. A loaf of fresh bread wrapped in a pretty tea towel. If you are a baker (or aspiring baker!), some fresh baked goodness wrapped in a patterned tea towel provides something to enjoy now as well as later. Choose a tea towel with seasonal Orthodox Christian greetings, or something with a different theme, and keep some extras on hand so you can have this gift ready to go at short notice. If you would like some great starter bread recipes, you can start here or here, and here is a tutorial on furoshiki (Japanese cloth) wrapping.
5. Hermitage soaps. Support Holy Cross Monastery while gifting some wonderful soaps, candles, and balms. These products are made at the monastery and are available in many different scents—there is something for everyone. The monastery also sells honey, food products, and incense. Great gifts and support for the Church? It's a win-win.
6. Play-Doh. If you are in the season of small children, it is always a good idea to be prepared for a last-minute birthday party invitation. There is perhaps no single toy that is a safer bet than Play-Doh. You can purchase it in bulk and keep the cans on hand to gift with some inexpensive cookie cutters (both of these are often available simultaneously at Dollar Tree or similar stores), or whip up a batch of homemade dough for a handmade touch. Either way, in years of teaching Sunday School, I have yet to meet a child that doesn’t light up when they are handed Play-Doh!