"The only thing we ever have is what we give away."
--Louis Ginsberg

A Gift Pantry (tm) from our past.
The following is excerpted from Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons,
by Tracey McBride, published by Bantam Books, 2000

The Gift Pantry may become your most valuable tool for celebrating each phase of the year in a joyous, creative, and simple fashion. For those of you not familiar with the concept, a Gift Pantry is a collection of gifts and packaging materials---homemade, home-grown, and/or purchased--kept readily available for future use. By stocking a Gift Pantry year round you may discover, as I have, that you will save time as well as money. Most important, a Gift Pantry greatly contributes to your peace of mind, allowing you to relax and enjoy the festivals of the season.
"The only gift is a portion of thyself"

Although there is no other aspect of the holiday season that creates more anxiety than selecting thoughtful gifts for family and friends, the art of gift-giving need not break your bank account or drain your time and energy. Here are a few ideas to help make your holidays artfully simple.
  • GIFT CERTIFICATES [& CARDS] Gift certificates [& cards) area always a welcome present. Who would not enjoy receiving the promise of a meal to savor at favorite restaurant? Your presentation will be even more creative when you wrap the gift certificate with a menu from the same restaurant! Simply ask for a menu when purchasing the gift certificate [or download and print one out from the Internet].
  • THE GIFT OF MEMORY A loving gift for older or grown children and grandchildren is to assemble a special book, or recipe box, with a collection of all your favorite family recipes. Don't forget to gather recipes from grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so on. Each year you may add new recipes as well as appropriate sayings and footnotes as to what is most remembered about that particular recipe. This thought gesture will provide a lovely gift that will grow with your children, or offer your grown children a true box of memories from their youth.
  • ADOPT A NEEDY FAMILY If you exchange gifts at your office you might want to start a new tradition. Instead of giving gifts to one another, jointly adopt a needy family. Gifts of donated money, food, clothing, or toys can be presented to the family in need.
  • PRACTICAL GIVING One Christmas, a friend of mine gave her elderly parents and in-laws an emergency kit to keep in the car. It contained a firs-aid kit, bottled water, enough canned food to last one person for two to four days, a flare, and a thin, insulated blanket bout at a camping store. Packaged in a sturdy plastic box, these are the kind of practical gifts that people seldom think to buy for themselves.
  • RECYCLED TREASURES Monogram a set of vintage stemware for a newlywed couple's first Christmas, have a child's name engraved on an antique silver baby's cup or spoon, or delight a friend who enjoys antique books with one she has long appreciated from your own collection. Gifts need not be new, or purchased, to have value. My mother knew a woman who took an antique clock from the wall and gave it as a Christmas gift to a friend who had always admired it.
Taken from Frugal Luxuries by the Seasons, by Tracey McBride, Bantam Books, NY, 2000.