For some years now, I’ve been making a study of a type of gift-giving for which I will now coin a word: Econsiderate.* Basically, these are consumable or small gifts. This came about because my parents moved into a smaller house and I began to think about an aspect I’m sure they wish I had focused on years ago: Not cluttering up their house with junk.
So I sought gifts that were:
- Edible or consumable
- Or at least very small or not requiring extra display or storage space.
Any consumable or virtual gift not only relieves the giftee of having to find a place to keep the item, it also gives them an easy out if they don’t actually like it — it’s supposed to vanish anyway!
But if they like it, you have a hit on your hands for years to come, because they will keep running out and you can keep getting them more.
It’s a bonus if the gift also:
- Is a luxury that they enjoy but don’t normally treat themselves to
- Is handmade by you, which not only multiplies its sentimental meaning but also often makes it cheaper 🙂
WARNING: Handmade gifts run the risk of toppling over into the Pottery-Class-Ashtray-Made-For-Nonsmoking-Parent category. Since they might feel bad getting rid of it, make double sure any handmade item you give is either consumable or takes up little to no space.
So here are some of the gifts I’ve given or seen exchanged in recent years that fit the bill:
- Kerbey Lane gingerbread pancake mix
- Grinder filled with gourmet peppercorns, which introduced the pepper-loving giftee to the difference fresh-ground makes
- Jar of Mom’s special secret steak rub, with recipe included on tag (Materials cost: $5)
- Jalapeno peanut butter, combining two of my father-in-law’s great loves (He actually likes it and asked for more!)
- Huckleberries shipped from Wyoming (a relative of mine is addicted)
- The classic bottle of wine, customizable to almost any price level
- Yankee Candles, which are expensive ($2-$25 and up) but particularly loved by a certain giftee I know
- Bath goods, especially if unusually nice, such as Lush Bath Bombs, $3-$16
- Domain name, registered for 1 to 5 years
- Netflix subscription
- Subscription to a sports Web site offering inside info on a favorite team
- Variations on the Web subscription: Cooking sites, news sites, etc. that offer premium content for a fee
- Magazine subscription; again, ideally something that’s a special treat (The Economist, or a hobby magazine?)
- The wide world of gift certificates, of course: Spas, nice restaurants, movie tickets, iTunes cards, zoo tickets for kids…
- Food delivery, for sick or otherwise homebound folks (new parents?), from services such as Eat Out In
WARNING: I don’t hold with the homemade “Coupon for 1 night Babysitting” or “3 Long Backrubs” on the principle that nobody I know ever really redeems these. However, if you think your giftee will actually cash them in without feeling awkward, go right on ahead. In fact, here are some borders you can print and copy for free.
Small, or at least not requiring new dedicated display space
- Cross-stitched bookmark (materials cost: $3)
- Homemade placemats, in a fabric they particularly love (materials cost: $15)
- Handmade rose earrings, can be made to match an outfit (materials cost: $1)
I’ll add more ideas to this category as they come to me, and I welcome any ideas others might have.
* E because many of these gifts are virtual; eco because, often, these gifts come with less packaging, shipping and eventual disposal waste; econ, because they concentrate on meaning rather than expense; and considerate, which is the main goal.