carlyn yandle/for metro vancouver
I think I need to clarify something here. Last column, when I said I’d just as soon give the whole Christmas a Missmas, I didn’t mean I’m against gift-giving, just the gratuitous purchase of more useless stuff.
In fact I love the giving part, but unless the intended receiver of your gift is in dire need of the basic necessities, this is an opportunity to share some joy that doesn’t add to the accumulation of clutter in our homes (and heads).
That’s why I’ve moved to consumables as a starting point, like tickets to musicals for kids, jars of cottage-industry foods purchased on weekend getaways throughout the year, or a bottle of Burrowing Owl with a couple of sand-blasted wine glasses from the Wickaninnish Gallery (Net Loft, Granville Island). Even when my main currency was creativity, I wrapped up homemade Callebaut fudge in coloured cellophane and ribbon as gifts.
This year I’m stealing an idea from my sister and wrapping up batches of synthetic-free bath/message oils — a base of sweet almond oil and a few drops of essential oils — in frosted apothecary decanters. (Hope you’re not reading this, Mom. And Mom-in-Law. And Sisters In Law….)
It seems so simple to keep it simple, yet it takes some mental fortitude to steer clear of the hyper-consumption marketing at this time of year. I find I have to keep repeating to myself, as I mix up this year’s kitchen concoction or wrap up baskets: “I do enough, I am enough, I have enough (to give).” Sometimes I believe it, sometimes I don’t.
It might seem easier to just give in and buy whatever’s selling this year, but the consumable Christmas gift plan is much less complicated — as long as you think in multiples. It’s just as easy to buy a half-dozen tins of good Italian coffee as one. My rule is, “Buy more than one and I’m half done.”
The same goes with the assembly, or, more accurately, assembly line. I start by buying the biggest roll of wrapping cellophane and curling ribbon I can find and multiples of whatever container — basket, galvanized tin bucket, re-usable shopping bag — to hold all the consumables.
I mess around creating a prototype package until it looks presentable, then the Man Of The House and I start the mass assembly, encouraged by our Vince Guaraldi’s Peanuts’ Christmas CD and a glass of seasonal cheer.