It’s beginning to look a bit like Christmas!

After getting my dose of Christmas warm ups watching endless cheesy movies, that always have a happy ending, I am starting to feel holidayish. 

This year, I finally felt settled after being on the edge of moving all last year, so my theme became being “anchored”. And that has inspired me to make home decorations with small wooden anchors that I’ve painted all glittery. It was only a couple of dollars for a pack of 12, so along with the sparkles and glue, they will be a fun, affordable addition to the outside wrapping of a few gifts. Perhaps they will even be hung on a tree or two. 

Last year, my family posed the challenge of giving second hand and homemade gifts this year and I was all in. A little more heart, a little more time, a lot less expense. I’ve set my grand total at $150 to make it super challenging, in a fun way, which it most certainly will be to cover 15 or so people. Especially as I don’t tend to just give one item to each person. 

I’m halfway there in terms of what I’ve spent and the gifts I’ve acquired. When you are doing homemade and second hand, it definitely helps to spread it out as I’ve been doing the last couple of months before the time crunch hits. The fun thing with second hand, that may sound ironic, is how it can almost help me more clearly zone in on what specific thing to give to a person when I see something that reminds me of them. Like a book about making homemade fabric bags for someone I know who is making just that. Or a treasure box from Africa for someone who loves elephants. The snazzy bottle stopper for the wine drinker. Knee protectors for the gardener of the family. Cookbooks for the newly converted vegan. A charming snow globe with a scene a loved one would enjoy for less than a quarter of the price of brand new. The beautiful unused journal for $2, that um, might just be a gift for myself. And so on. 

And then there’s homemade which definitely doesn’t mean cheap as I’ve spent my share of funds on supplies to make specialty chocolates, which I of course have to test sample to make sure they are up to par. Quality chocolate blocks along with organic cocoa butter, quality cocoa powder and endless potential toppings such as hazelnuts, pecans, coconut, and blueberries have been taking over my kitchen counter the last while. Cruising the bulk bin aisle, or stores like Famous Foods in Vancouver, can be inspiring as things I would never think of call out to me.

This edible gift will definitely be about quality over quantity and I aim to present it nicely dressed up. As my Dad seemed to rather enjoy the similar treats that I made for his birthday earlier this year, even saying it was better than his own homemade chocolates (and that’s quite a compliment), he will be one of the recipients of such a sweet little box, along with a couple of treasures I have yet to find for him at the charity shops.

I’ve blogged before about one of my most favourite gifts I got as a child from my Dad which was a sewing kit in a basket with all the treasures inside like the tomato for pins, scissors, thread and needles, etc. This modest gift felt like a treasure trove of thoughtfulness as well as an inspiration for creativity that has stuck with me as I continue to love giving and receiving baskets of goodies with some sort of theme.

But the goodies we give don’t have to be on a grand scale. As one who sometimes helps folk organize and declutter, I’m reminded of the excesses of our world as most of us simply have too much stuff. And there’s a reason why the charity shops overflow in the New Year, as they receive endless items that were recently purchased, usually full price, given with the best of intentions, but that are sometimes met with a luke warm reception. 

Most folk don’t have much time but if you think about the time you drive here and there and park and stress through the malls, maybe that time could be transferred to working on something more personal. 

Or if you really want to give your child something like a new snowboard, you could check out the second hand options and spend $30 instead of $300 and perhaps use the savings to hit the slopes for some quality time together. Santa has arrived early this year for me and already delivered a second hand but close to new violin that I aim to learn to play in the new year. (The second hand uke hanging with me in the snowglobe is happy to have a friend of the string family join the clan.)

Whether homemade, new or second hand items are on your list, you could set a new challenge for yourself of the amount to spend. Over the last few years I’ve gone from budgets of $500 to $400 to $300 to my new challenge that will be the least I’ve spent for Christmas in decades.

Precious time, experiences, laughter, moments, gestures (not that kind of gesture) can mean the world, in a world that can move so fast that we can sometimes forget our priorities and feel far from anchored. There are endless different approaches to dealing with the holidays and while some of the stress can come from external sources, some of it can come from within ourselves. I’ll aim to not be stressed and instead feel anchored in my home, my community, my faith, with family and friends, and sail on (but bypass the crazy sales!) through the season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all you fellow sailors.  

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