These days, as we wage our own war on waste in our homes, buying excessive gifts for people can seem at odds with our considered recycling and environmental awareness. Having a selection of handmade, thoughtful gifts on hand, or things that can be quickly made into gifts, for a birthday or unexpected occasion, can take the stress and often the unnecessary cost out of giving, as well as being a more considerate option for the environment. Personal gifts are always so thoughtful, even moreso when you make them yourself. Learn how to with Houzz.
Christmas is easy to remember, and hopefully so are the birthdays of our most significant others, but during the year there are times when unexpected events or forgotten birthdays catch us off guard, and we find ourselves racing to the shops to buy a hastily chosen gift with a hefty price tag to match.
With a small amount of planning, there are a few simple and thoughtful gifts that take little preparation and can be sourced easily, often without leaving the house. Not only are these gifts useful and unique, they are also easy on the pocket. Additionally, because you are recycling and reusing, you are passing on something earth-friendly as well, making ‘the thought that counts’ even more significant.
The humble scarf – not just for necks
A beautiful scarf, of which you’ll find many of in your local secondhand shop, offers so many gift-giving opportunities. First, consider wrapping your gifts in a retro scarf, giving your present a beautiful personal touch, as well as passing on a unique accessory.
Framing a selection of vintage scarves, pictured here, is a cost effective and original gift for an eclectic-minded friend. Although frames are cheap and can be purchased at department stores or even supermarkets, don’t be afraid to use some you have already, or even pick up some secondhand ones for a true vintage feel and a more environmentally friendly option. You’ll need some good quality double-sided tape, try Command, some frames and your scarves. Simply position the scarves as you would a photo and secure with double-sided tape.
All sewn up
Here is another fabulous way to use scarves; sew up a cushion for a bed or a sofa. You could even use some retro tea towels. No two will be the same, and if you’ve access to a sewing machine, nothing is easier or quicker than a rectangular or square cushion cover.
A present for the chef
While you have the sewing machine out, a simple apron is easy and fast to put together and a great, useful gift for a home cook. Don’t buy new fabric, use your off-cuts, or repurpose some clothes you no longer wear. Consider denim for durability. Again, an apron is a simple sewing job, and simple patterns such as this can be sourced from the internet.
Give in to green
Succulents: A succulent is easy to keep, which makes it a wonderful gift to give. Even the blackest of thumbs can keep a succulent thriving and they look beautiful on their own in a small pot, or en masse in one variety or a mix in a larger vessel. Make sure your chosen pot or container has plenty of holes for drainage.
Keep in mind that succulents are not difficult to propagate; it’s often just the simple task of a clean removal of the leaf at the stem, and your succulents are ready-made, quick gifts.
What you need for gifts from the garden: Keep small pots and a bag of good-quality soil on hand. Buy your succulents or other plants from local growers (try markets and school fetes) and buy more than one if they are a good price, then you have one to give. Add your own care and maintenance gift tag, especially if you know your plant is going to a novice.
Jars full of possibility
It is ingrained in us these days to keep our glass jars, and while they are fabulous for storing things in the pantry, they can be upcycled in so many ways for gift giving. If you’ve got a bit of time, consider the eye-catching jam jar herb garden mounted on the wall, pictured here. Or keep it simple by presenting a few favourites such as basil, thyme and sage together, for a gift that would feel at home in any kitchen.
If your gift is going to an enthusiastic cook, perhaps delve further into the herb world and pot a selection of herbs that work well in particular cuisines, such as Thai basil, mint and coriander.
These whimsical jam jar storage containers, with painted lids and plastic animals fastened on top, are easy for even the least crafty of us, and make a great last- minute gift for a child. Fill them with whatever would suit. Consider beads, paddle pop sticks for craft, crayons or coloured pencils.
Just like the recycling and reusing that so many of us consistently endeavour to do as part of our lives, giving gifts will become more of an opportunity to recycle and repurpose.
The thrifty sensibilities of our Depression-era grandparents are no longer lost on us. Making things that last and buying less not only saves us money, as it did them, it softens the impact we make on our environment.