Tough times call for tough measures, so say the Spartan among us. By and large, that means making do making over or doing without. If you are one of those people who start your holiday preparations a year in advance, you already have all your presents wrapped and ready to be distributed. If, on the other hand, you are still wondering what sort of gift you can find that will not utterly destroy your budget, I have a few suggestions.
FREEBIES YOU CAN SHARE
Skype, Yahoo and MSN instant messaging programs allow you to make computer-to-computer calls at no cost. At my house we use it to talk to friends in the US, Spain and Israel.
Share e-books from the Gutenberg Project, www. guttenberg.org
Read and share online publications such as Martha Stewart’s Magazine, Better Home and Gardens, House Beautiful, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Vanity Fair Magazine, The Washington Post, The Jerusalem Post, and Ha’aretz. All these sites offer free memberships.
NEARLY FREE GIFTS YOU CAN MAKE
Cuttings from your own house plants. African violets, scented geraniums, Jade plant, spider plant are easy to propagate. Pot the cutting in a recycled tin et voila, you have a truly green gift.
Check out frugal recipes at http://www.epicurious.com/ and find recipes for bread, tortilla soup and simple salads. Make them as a complete meal for a friend.
http://www.swisherpen.com/ has Rotring Core Technor Medium Nib and Lysium Fine Nib fountain pens for $9.99 each. They also have thre ounces of brown Visconti Boutique ink, in a nifty bottle with a wooden stopper for $ 8, and a Clairefontaine Triomphe 50-page writing pad for $5 .
Moleskine Volant pocket Journals and reporter notebooks, Cavallini easel calendars, Nepali Lotka envelopes, Rhodia writing pads and pencil sets are some of the items under ten dollars at http://www.vickerey.com/
http://www.epica.com/ offers a single 10×14″ sheet of handmade Amalfi paper for $10. Expensive, yes, but the smile it will put on the face of your favorite papyrophile is priceless.
The metropolitan Museum of Art has some super deals on fine stationery. My favorite is a box of 36 Cat cards and envelopes for $9.88 http://www.metmusem.org/
Foodies will love the 220 grams jar of Jerusalem wildflower honey for 5.50, the 500ml bottle of award winning Halutza first cold press olive oil produced in the Negev region of Israel, 13 ounce jars of ethrog, quince, cherry tomato and plum confiture for $3 dollars each–all available at http://www.israeliproducts.com/
DeFluri’s chocolates, in Martinsburg, WV has delicious truffles at unbeatable prices. Flatlanders can order them at http://www.defluris.com/
Start windowsill herb gardens in latte cups and bowls from thrift shops and discount stores make great planters. Line them with pebbles, add potting soil and green onions, chives, oregano and cilantro seeds. They germinate in no time.
http://www.superseeds.com/ is a reliable source of inexpensive herb seeds.
FOR ALL SENSES
Amaryllis bulbs and paperwhite narcissi will bring cheer on the darkest days of winter. They can usually be found at supermarkets and discount stores during the holiday season for less than ten dollars.
Scented candles from discount stores and thrift shops.
Silk scarves from thrift and consignment shops.
Check out http://www.pocketmeadowfarm.com/ for reasonably priced yarn and deliciously scented artisan soaps.
The vanilla soap from http://www.bubblycauldron.blogspot.com/ is a a real treat. I should know. My daughter makes it.
Start your best beloved’s day day right with a cup of Mirembe Kawamera coffee available at http://www.thanksgiving/ coffee.com
Mirembe Kawamera coffee is “A sweet, nutty coffee from Uganda with notes of pecan and nutmeg, grown by an amazing and unique cooperative.
Mirembe Kawomera (mir´em bay cow o mare´a) means “delicious peace” in the Ugandan language Luganda. It is the name of a Ugandan cooperative of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian coffee farmers.
Grown high on the slopes of Mt. Elgon, a dormant volcano in eastern Uganda, Mirembe Kawomera Coffee is produced in small batches by the family farmers of the Peace Kawomera Cooperative.
$1 from the sale of every package donated to the Peace Kawomera Cooperative to support their community-based projects.”
The ls The Collaborator of Bethlehem and A Grave in Gaza, by Matt Beynon-Rees are available at http://www.amazon.com/