simple gifts, two ways.

December 10, 2015

simple_gifts_reading_my_tea_leaves1052Gift guides are an inspiring and helpful aspect of blogland this time of year. It’s nice to read a favorite blog and learn about a new something or other that you might never have seen before. Or to be reminded of a trick you have up your own sleeve. Or get enlightened about someone else’s approach to the season.

But lots of gift guides—even my own—err on the side of extravagance. I can appreciate extravagance. In the ultimate aspirational mood I will gladly fill a post with the very loveliest things from the very loveliest shops; things that in my imagination I would generously be able to bestow upon all of my nearest and dearest. The reality, of course, is that I usually need to reign in the extravagance a bit. I might be able to get a very special gift for, say, James, but my pockets aren’t deep enough to do the same for everyone on my list. I included a whole range of gifts to buy and to make or do on last week’s gift guide—and truth be told, some of them are virtually free—but I wanted to make another guide for gifts that are still simpler.

I think we all have people on our lists who we love deeply, but for whom crafting a full-on holiday extravaganza—for reasons of time and finances—might be out of the realm of possibility. Hand-knitting a blanket for everyone in the family, for instance, is noble, but Heaven help you. Planning a Costa Rican vacation? In my dreams.

So here, a gathering of simple gifts. They’re gifts that require little in the way of time or resources, but that are nonetheless nice to give and nice to receive. Some of these gifts are things to buy. Some of them are things to make. None of them should require a year’s work to pull off. With a few exceptions, I’ve kept everything on the list to under twenty dollars. simple_gifts_reading_my_tea_leaves1074
Sweet Tooth, Two Ways
+ Blueberry, dewberry, and vine maple, straight from the source.
+ A cinnamon and cardamom-scented stove-top treat.

Light, Two Ways
+ A bulb good for decades.
+ A set of candles to make yourself.

Warm Toes, Two Ways
Snowflake socks.

Baking, Two Ways
+ Amish cake tester.
+ Homemade vanilla extract

Relaxation, Two Ways
Rosemary + juniper + salt.
+ Graces.

A Little Color, Two Ways
Hibiscus and beet root.
+ Scarlet.

Help with the Housework, Two Ways
+ All-purpose cleaner.
+ Scrubby brush.

Encouragement, Two Ways
+ Be optimistic.
+ You are loved.

Fancy Avocado Toast, Two Ways
Peruvian pink salt.
+ Sandwich plates.

Good Vibes, Two Ways
+ Raw emerald chunks
+ Palo santo.

Eco-Encouragement, Two Ways
+ Fix Your Clothes.
Sandwich wrapper.

Christmas Cookies, Two Ways
+ Protection for your mitts.
+ Two dozen of your very favorites (4 essentials, right here).

Childhood Relived, Two Ways
+ Modeling wax.
+ Acorn tops.

Winter Whites, Two Ways
+ Amaryllis Alfresco
+ White plus linen.

Inspiration-Seeking, Two Ways
+ Guide to Gotham
+ Book Darts

Coal, Two Ways
+ Soap.
+ Stick.

If you have favorites of your own to add, please do. The more simple gift ideas, the absolute merrier.

PS. I wrote about my childhood—and adult—tradition of giving certificates on the Kaufmann Mercantile blog, Field Notes. Just in case you’re not sure what this certificate business is all about anyway. Full story, right this way.

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  • Reply Sarah Z December 10, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    Ha, I love the coal suggestions! Those will make for some great tongue in cheek presents that are actually quite lovely. Great idea 🙂

  • Reply Kari December 10, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Thank you so much for this list. I enjoyed your other lists for the purposes of dreaming. But this list is doable. And, as with everything you do, the suggestions here are exquisite.

  • Reply Caitlin December 10, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate you thinking about readers (grad students like me!) who might not be able to afford lots of wonderful gift suggestions on other guides. Love your ideas!!

  • Reply Gigi December 11, 2015 at 12:09 am

    Thank you for your lists, both this one (the more affordable one!!) and the previous one (the more indulgent one that I’m setting aside for more special loved ones). Also, I wanted to say how lovely your prose is! It’s functional while also dreamy. I always enjoy reading your posts!

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 11, 2015 at 8:37 am

      Thank you! So kind of you to say!

  • Reply Rose December 11, 2015 at 7:48 am

    I love your blog! But it is usually more for the dreamer in me than anything. This was a great post. Thank you!

    Something that might be a nice DIY/Repurposed Gift idea is to take a nice wooden bowl/sculpture/candlestick/tray/etc from the thrift store, and add some gold, silver, or copper leaf. It’s a great way to add a pop of shine, it’s low cost, customizable, and looks great. Someone more into a modern look may like a clean, colorblocked look. And someone who likes a more lived in look wouldn’t mind a little nick or skip in the leafing.

    • Reply Erin Boyle December 11, 2015 at 8:36 am

      Love this! Thanks so much for your note!

  • Reply taylor k December 12, 2015 at 4:56 pm

    Thanks for featuring our Palo Santo bundles. I just love your gift ideas!

  • Reply Erin December 14, 2015 at 6:27 pm

    Thanks for including my work in your gift guide! All fantastic picks, and I think I may have found just the thing for my sister in this list… 🙂

  • Reply Tiffany Medrano December 26, 2015 at 11:15 am

    It’s the day after Christmas and I find myself already dreaming and scheming up next years Christmas gifts for my friends and family. Thanks for sharing this inspiring list!

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