I have a confession: I absolutely love holiday gift guides. Some hold a special place in my heart—the arrival of the Lee Valley Christmas catalogue is a revered event in my house—but in general I am indiscriminate in my love. Even stores that sell astronomically-priced clothing, confusing kitchen gadgets and gender specific toys; if it’s under the heading “holiday gifts,” I’ll read it.
The worst part is, I am fully aware of how terrible these lists are. I know that they are nothing more than a shallow attempt to make me spend money that I don’t have, they promote an orgy of consumerism, and most of it is junk that people don’t actually need. Did I mention the part where I can’t afford most of it anyway?
Inevitably, I usually make my gifts. Not because I’m a hipster, but because I’m often broke. And homemade things are thoughtful, right? Sadly, I have very little crafty talent, so over the years I have established a repertoire of inexpensive, easy-to-make stuff that people actually seem to enjoy (or at least pretend to enjoy).
Let me present the 2012 Queermonton Holiday Gift Guide for People Who Are Broke and Not Crafty:
Roasted Pecans: grab a bunch of shelled pecans and drizzle some oil over them. Add something sweet (maple syrup, honey, sugar) and something spicy (cayenne, chili flakes, paprika). Roast in oven at 350 degrees for 15-ish minutes. Let cool. If you’re feeling fancy, stick them in a jar.
Candy: go to Bulk Barn. Buy candy. Wrap it up in cellophane with ribbon. Try not to eat it all.
Spice mixes: Go to a library and check out recipes for dry curry or other spice mixes. Go to Bulk Barn and buy ingredients. You will probably spend less than $10 and have enough for dozens of people.
Flavoured oil: if you are feeling extra splashy with your cash, buy some olive oil in bulk and some oil jars from the dollar store. Throw some peeled garlic cloves and rosemary into a jar and top it off with oil. Bam!
Bath salts: mix two parts Epsom salts to one part kosher salt in a plastic bag. Add a drop of food colouring and shake the bag to mix. Keep adding a drop at a time until you have the colour you want. Repeat with essential oil of your choice (lavender, eucalyptus, vanilla). Spread the salts out to dry on some wax paper for an hour, and then stick in jars. Pro-tip: get all of the above ingredients at—where else?—Bulk Barn.
Gourmet hot chocolate: since you are already at Bulk Barn, buy some cocoa powder, sugar, mini marshmallows and a cinnamon stick. Layer it all in a jar (or whatever). If you want to be fancy, tie a mini bottle of booze to the jar.
Mixed CDs: seriously, who doesn’t love a mixed CD?
Magnets: go to a craft store and buy a roll of magnet tape. Stick to anything you want (bottle caps, pictures from comic books, fortune cookies). Instant fridge magnet.
Write a song: can’t sing? No worries: make up some rhyming couplets about how awesome your friend is (“Andi, Andi, you’re so sweet! You always make me things to eat!”), and then belt it out at the top of your lungs at a party/on their answering machine. No one will care about your voice, trust me.
Have a great holiday and see you in the new year.