Learning to gift from the heart, not the wallet, is an important life skill, and one I've worked hard to instil in my children. It gets harder all the time with the plethora of inexpensive gifts flooding the market, and often even I am tempted to just shell out ten bucks for some shiny trinket or other. But really, it's always going to look like you ran out and spent ten bucks without thinking too much, isn't it. It's a zero effort kinda option.
Frankly, there are a zillion other options for less than $10, which are far more appealing and more memorable, that the ones on offer at the shopping centre.
For teens, it's especially difficult, as unless you're prepared to shell out for the latest thing, your trinket is likely to be welcomed with far less enthusiasm than you may have hoped.
I've been coaching my daughter to make gifts for friends over buying them, for several years now. She's now nearly sixteen, and will be off to University in a couple of years, and I am confident that even as a financially bereft student, she will be well equipped to gift generously and from the heart.
The rose petal cupcakes at the top of my post, were baked by her for a friends birthday, just last week. A packet mix that included icing mix, and some rose themed cupcake wrappers, edible rose petals (which we always have...they make any cake look extra special), pink food colouring and pink metallic cachous, plus half an hour of her time, produced these little darlings. Aren't they adorable? Her friend was thrilled to bits.
We made this one a couple of years ago when she was just a tween. It's what is called a Tall Cupcake, and it's ideal when you want to gift just one special thing. It's a basic cake batter, baked in a well cleaned recycled tin, like a baked beans tin, to give the tall cylindrical shape. You spray the tin liberally with cooking spray before baking the batter, and remove the base with a can opener to release the baked cake. We rolled some purchased fondant out, and used the can to cut a perfect round of icing to sit on top. She tinted some fondant yellow and some green, and fashioned a lemon to finish it, as it was a lemon and poppyseed cake. A half a sheet of vellum, printed with delicate green ivy, was then wrapped around the cake and a natural raffia tie finished it off. It was presented in a gift box, surrounded by shredded paper, and it looked and smelled gorgeous.
These jam drops were made for friends and family last Christmas and they were a huge hit. The polka dotted cellophane bags are available at discount stores and party suppliers. Topped with shiny red ribbon, they look very festive!
Now these I think, were her friends favourites. So simple, it's ridiculous. They're oversized marshmallows, threaded on to skewers, inside the same cellophane bags. Quick, easy and impressive.
Cute little gingerbread cookies drizzled with melted white chocolate took all of an hour, and were lapped up by the Dance class. Who doesn't like gingerbread?
And the Piece` de Resistance...the Mockingjay cake she made for her bestie last year. I helped her with the Ombre icing, but the fondant Mockingjay, painted with edible gold paint, was all her own work.
The most expensive thing here was the Mockingjay cake, and it still cost under $30, and only that much because we had to buy all of the ingredients. We could make another tomorrow for under $10 as we still have leftover gold paint, fondant and food colourings.
The funny thing is, that while she was a bit shy about it at first, and wasn't sure how her friends would react, she is now known as the Baking Queen in her social circle, and her friends clamour for her home made goodies. At only 15, that's a bit of a feather in her cap I think!
She's currently working on ideas for two friends birthday cakes, and I think they'll be winners too.
And just to show it's not all about baking and food, she's currently knitting this lush, darling baby pink rug for her 3 year old niece (my granddaughter). Nubby, soft pink yarn, on oversized needles, knitted in plain stitch only, and it looks and feels like a cloud. The huge needles make the work go faster, and the nubby yarn hides a multitude of little knitting mistakes. She'll improve as she goes along, but this has been a great beginner project for her, and one I know her little niece is going to love. Total cost $12. We saw a similar one in an upmarket baby shop for $120. Those shops are great....but for inspiration only!
You don't have to spend a lot of money to gift generously and memorably. A gift of your time can be just as lovely.
How do you gift from the heart?