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  • Writer's pictureWendy Elizabeth

Gift giving – naturally.

It’s Friday. It’s raining. I have good hair. I am meeting my dear friend for lunch today, at her house, and I want to take her a present. I don’t have to. I’ve reached that strangely grown-up time in my life where I don’t take a present to somebody’s home unless I really want to (and I truly enjoy being with that person). This does beg the question, why do we go to someones home if we don’t like them? But that’s another story.

But it’s raining. And, much as I love her, I don’t want to go out into the rain, to the shops, because I am not even sure what I want to take.

As I got ready I thought about the whole idea of giving presents; for some people it is an obligation, a nuisance, and for others it is a joy and a demonstration of their feelings. My theory is that if we want to do things that make people happy then it shouldn’t be complicated (and it should make us happy too).

So, with that in mind I started to think about what to take to my friend. Hydrangeas are my first thought. My garden is filled with Hydrangeas of all colors and sizes but, aside from the fact that they are laden with rain, they take up a lot of space on a table and would need a large vase to hold them. I decide to wander around my garden for inspiration (in the aforementioned drizzly rain). I have a Thyme plant on the back step. With frost looming I thought that would be a good gift. My friend loves to cook and eat fresh, organic produce. Perfect. I bring it inside, pick out the dead leaves that had taken residence, washed the excess dirt off and prune it so that it looks cared for.

Turns out it looked so happy in my kitchen that I put it on my windowsill, and decided not to give it away afterall.

I then remembered I had some more herbs, which I had planted in a half-barrel, in a rather dismal attempt to try and grow a Mediterranean garden. How ironic, it looked like rubbish all year and now, as Winter approaches, it decides to take on some form of fabulousness! I dug up the large, fluffy Oregano and went to look for one of my favorite terracotta pots (I found a pile of old, odd shaped pots just lying on the side of the road years ago, abandoned. I like to imagine they have lived a long, interesting life, squirreled away in some secret garden – maybe even a castle courtyyard overlooking a cliff). I planted the Oregano in one of these pots and put a rock on the side for decoration (in reality it was to stop the plant from tipping out). Found a small china saucer to put underneath it and I was done. It would look at home in anyone’s kitchen.

Anyway, after potting my herb plant I wanted to share my ideas for gift-giving (not the Wedding sort, just the everyday, I’m happy to see you, sort).

– My first idea is to always shop at home first. I know as I write this that it does take a bit of forethought, but overtime it will become a habit, and you will be surprised at how much you can improvise with what you have around you. I love to bake, but I also know that when I don’t have all the ingredients there are some delicious box/refrigerator items. Brownie mixes (Ghirardelli) and sweet Bread mixes (Krusteaz) are always very good (you can easily add extra chocolate, nuts or dried fruit to these too without changing the cooking time). Don’t mean to be rude, but steer clear of the cut and slice cookies in the refrigerator section, buy a box of pre-made cookies instead. – Check your pantry cupboards. Do you have something delicious that hasn’t expired? (e.g. imported box of tea, cookies, specialty jam, hot-chocolate and marshmallows). Unopened of course. – Flowers or plants from the garden that you can pick (or dig up)? – If I have nothing at home then I do head to the shops, but admittedly I usually spend a few moments before I go, thinking about my budget and planning what I would like to buy. This saves time and stress. – Don’t overlook the beauty of seasonal fruit and vegetables. Find the absolute best you can, put them in a clear cellophane bag and tie with a ribbon (grapes, peaches, asparagus, tomatoes on the vine, fresh cranberries). Miniature fruit is another one of my favorites, especially in the Fall (e.g. lady apples, clementines, forelle pears). – Bottle of wine from your home town (or country) or one that has a particularly funny label on it (Australian ones especially, have a lot of funny names and pictures and are often around $10). – Flowers or plants from the supermarket. Find the most natural looking bunch of flowers there (gerberas, sunflowers, chrysanthemums, tulips etc). Ask for a cellophane floral sleeve to put them in. These keep them fresh, and always make your gift look a bit nicer without being too fussy. Remove any baby’s breathe, ferns, rubber bands, labels or price tags. Cut the stems all the same length. Place back inside the cellophane bag and either take as is, wrap in gift wrap or tie a ribbon around the middle. Fold down or cut the cellophane neatly if it is too high. – Plants. Same idea. Go to the supermarket and pick something natural. Remove any garish decorations, price tags etc (if you need the care label try to hide it, or just give it to them later).If the plastic pot is covered in a foil or paper sleeve that you don’t like, change it. Take it off, put a piece of plastic (or a plastic bag) over the holes then cover with a square of your own wrapping paper. Tie with a ribbon, or, for a quieter look, just carefully tape the wrapping paper to itself so that it doesn’t fall off. Even easier, just take all the extras off, put some tissue in a bag and put the “nude” plant in the bag, letting it peek out the top. – Inexpensive book that you know pertains to that person’s life at the moment (e.g. the funny side of parenting for a mother raising teenagers). – Chocolate, a really delicious bar. Wrap it as if it is the most precious thing in the world. – Daily desk calendar of their favorite indulgence (travel, shoes, handbags…) – Anything that they love (favorite candy bar, shampoo, soap, beer, lip-gloss, Twinkies etc) – A balloon. Who doesn’t love a balloon?

Well, you get the idea, the list could go on; but the point is that with just a little time and thought (and not a lot of money) it is very easy to give gifts to people that we care about.

For more by Wendy and the Blue Giraffe, go to:

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