by Maria Radloff
November 28, 2019
As much as I dislike cold weather and dead gardens, December is always an enjoyable month for me. It’s a month of celebration…gatherings, decorations, gifts, reflection, service, connecting, and hopefully some dreamy planning for the upcoming year.
Gifts are always a big part of the season, regardless of religion or beliefs. Unfortunately gift-giving has become complicated, as many people are leaving their religious backgrounds, can’t afford to give gifts, or feel that gifts have too big of an impact on the earth’s resources.
I think gifts warm the hearts of both the gift giver and the receiver, so I would like to support this beautiful end-of-year celebration with my gift guide. I hope it will offer a new experience in how we can give gifts that truly celebrate the season and our hearts’ connections.
Give the gift of education.
Our communities are loaded with experts wanting to share their experience with students. There is community education, online classes, museums, studios…unlimited resources to learn dancing, art, music, cooking, language, and so much more. Learning keeps the mind young and happy!
Lure them back to the kitchen with spices and a cookbook.
There is nothing healthier than cooking real foods. Perhaps some new flavors and ideas can tempt the lucky receiver of this gift to try explore what is possible in the kitchen. And who doesn’t like to throw a great dinner party, showing off new menus and delights!
DIY with seeds.
Seeds are magical little objects that contain the blueprint of an entire life.
Give packets of seeds – for food, for flowers, for entertainment. Stay practical or find the craziest ones out there! Whether they are for the garden, the yard, or inside the house, seeds are amazing to watch as they grow into a life of their own.
Eat local with a CSA subscription.
Everybody needs to eat and everyone loves fresh food. Give a subscription to a local farm CSA and you’ll be remembered all summer long as boxes of beautiful fruits and vegetables continue to arrive every week or two.
Air purifying house plants.
Help keep home air purified and fresh with a gorgeous, low maintenance house plant. Find one that only needs watering once a week that will be easy to care for, and hopefully not easy to forget! Go to a local greenhouse or nursery to pick one out, and get a little advice from helpful staff. You’ll enjoy the experience of visiting all the plants too! If you are in Salt Lake City, head over to Cactus & Tropicals…my favorite! You might end up with a few more plants of your own.
Gift a membership for a museum, garden, zoo/aviary, climbing gym, ski resort, etc. I cherish my Red Butte Garden membership and spend many hours there walking, working and meeting friends. I have also enjoyed memberships at The Leonardo and other art museums. I think the zoo and aviary memberships are nice because they have social events and excellent animal rehab programs.
Locally crafted foods and treats.
It’s super easy to shop quality local foods. Look for things like honey, jams, canned fruits and pickles, candies, herbs…and of course ghee (which I make)! I find many of these things at the winter farmers’ market, Caputo’s and Liberty Heights. Many local artisans have websites for online ordering and shipping too.
My grandmother spent hours watching the birds at the feeder outside her living room window. Birds can be enjoyed all year long with a little bit of bird seed and a cute house. Ok, a lot of birdseed, because they tell all of their friends. Try getting a unique birdhouse and some seed to gift anyone who loves nature.
My two scents.
You can’t go wrong pleasing the sense of smell. Find crafted smudges made from sage, lavender and other herbs. Combine this with incense sticks which are another great resource to purify the air in a room. Shoyeido is one brand I trust to be non-toxic.
The need to read.
Visit the local, non-corporate book stores for great ideas on books. Get off the digital news feeds and touch the real paper pages of a book that will nurture the mind and soul. Perhaps some new best sellers, or share your favorite classics from the Brontë’s, Shakespeare, Judy Blume or Vonnegut.
Be a designer for a day, design a photo book.
Visit Shutterfly.com and build a book of your memories this year. Upload your photos, add your own titles and text, and find cute little doodads to embellish with your creativity!
Share a prized possession.
What do you already own that you could share with a true friend? An antique piece of jewelry? An old book? A piece of art? A collectible? Share something that is already filled with your loving life energy and pass that on via a valued object you have kept dear to your heart for many years. This idea is inspired by a lovely woman who gave me her own silver necklace back in Phoenix. I still cherish that gift, after 12 years!
Make something! Bake cookies. Frame a photo. Get a small canvas and paint or use mixed media. Plant a terrarium. And if you’re not crafty, hire somebody to make something for you…clothing, crafts, sculpture, jewelry. When I first moved to Salt Lake City I was gifted a beautiful necklace crafted by a local artisan that had charms representing all facets of my life. It was one of the most heartfelt gifts I have ever received.
I hope this list is inspiring and brings a new experience to how we can give gifts that have meaning and gratitude. These gifts are meant to connect us and bring joy while preparing them, not to fulfill obligations or support the local Costco.
Wishing you an amazing grand finale to your 2019!