To gift or not to gift? That is the big question many of us are tackling this season and it isn’t whether they have been naughty or nice. It’s about our own current state of financial where withal. Can we really afford the gesture? Being considerate of those near and dear to us doesn’t require dire or drastic actions. Remember it’s the thought that counts. You can still be thoughtful without having to dip into the reserves or worse yet be considered a modern day Scrooge.
Many of us rush out each year and buy chocolates, bottles of alcohol or other crowd pleasers for those that make our lives all the more pleasant throughout the year. It’s a way of acknowledging their efforts and to show our appreciation. So draw up a list and include all those people that were thoughtful to you. You may be surprised at how long that list may become when you think of everyone from neighbors to professionals. Not to fret just yet.
A great way to keep expenses down significantly and still make a positive impression is to gift something from the heart rather than the wallet. Have your own bake off if your talents are in the kitchen. I whip up dozens and dozens of tasty shortbread cookies each year and distribute them with glee and at a mere fraction 25 boxes of chocolates would set me back. People love them and appreciate the fact they are homemade. You can encase them in various containers pending your budget and artistic ingenuity. Your local Dollar Store sells cheap and cheerful holiday tins that require no additional wrapping. Voila! Done! Total cost for 25 tins each holding a dozen homemade cookies? Priceless. I also make extra dozens to give guests as a take home treat to enjoy at a later time during the holidays. If they don’t celebrate the holidays you are still being thoughtful without being offensive. Choose winter scenes or other options rather than Christmas icons for added tact.
Perhaps you are lucky enough to possess an artistic skill that can be translated into a wonderful card, print or memento. A great photo will certainly outlast a bottle of Scotch. Last year I received a homemade Christmas card of my Godson dressed as an angel with a present. I honestly can’t remember the gift but I did have the little angel framed and it is still displayed in my home. It still touches my heart and I cherish it dearly. Had it been initially framed I wouldn’t have been able to read the heartwarming message inside. If you have a knack for capturing the moments throughout the year what better gift can you give to a loved one than a shared memory?
Whether you are facing your own financial recession or not, it doesn’t require a lot of cash to make a lasting impression. A little resourcefulness combined with a few hours of your own time is better spent than accruing debt at the malls.
Heavenly Shortbread Cookies
Pure and simple
Preheat oven to 325 degrees
I pound unsalted (room temperature/soft) butter
1 cup icing sugar
½ cup cornstarch
3 cups of baking flour
(makes about 50 cookies)
Put pound of soft butter in large mixing bowl and whip with a whisk. The secret to heavenly short bread cookies is to whip the hell out of the butter and then with each dry component you add. Start with the icing sugar and whisk and whip into the butter. Once it is well blended into the butter add the cornstarch and again whisk away. Then add ½ the baking flour and again whisk well. Change to a wooden spoon to blend in the remaining flour. With a teaspoon, drop the dough onto a cookie sheet with sufficient space between each cookie. Place on middle rack in oven at 325 degrees (preheated) and bake for 10 to 15 minutes or until edges start to turn brown. Remove and let cool.
For personal taste and/or creativity you may add chopped walnuts, chocolate, lemon, cherry or perhaps a favorite jam or preserve onto the top and centered area of each cookie prior to baking. Size of cookies will change baking time. They last incredibly well provided you layer them with wax paper in a sealed cookie tin and at room temperature.
Happy Holidays from your Style Envoy, Philip Minaker.