The best Christmas gifts for acquaintances

Every year I purchase little Christmas gifts for the nine lovely ladies in my book club. Since we only meet once a month, they are not part of my close friend circle, but I have known these ladies for long enough to call them good friends. Nine gifts can easily blow my Christmas gift budget, so I have to be smart about how much I spend. This annual conundrum made me think about all the other people we want to demonstrate our gratitude for at Christmas with a thoughtful gift. There are teachers, day-care staff, work colleagues, the cleaner, the personal trainer/fitness instructor, neighbours…and the list goes on! Here are some simple, cost effective gift ideas that will hopefully make their Christmas a bit more special. 

1. Home-made treats
The last couple of year I’ve made Rocky Road, Shortbread, and Rum Balls for my book club friends. This is cost effective and fun (especially for my kids, who LOVE to help!). Part of the value of edible gifts is in the packaging – think cellophane bags tied with tinsel and baubles, little boxes or jars decorated with Christmas stickers or other inexpensive decorations. The options are endless! The only thing to be aware of are allergies. One year a friend made me homemade bath salts, which was essentially Epsom salts mixed with essential oil – they were divine! 

2. Plants
A couple of years ago the book club ladies, day-care team, school teachers and other friends each received a little succulent plant grown from cuttings from my garden. This takes some preparation as I had to start growing these a few weeks before, but well worth the effort. Everyone loved them and they don’t need much water – perfect for non-green thumbs. They also grow as indoor or outdoor plants. People still proudly let me know their plant is still alive! 

If you don’t have any plants to take cuttings from, or need a plant in a hurry, a quick trip to your local garden centre is in order. If you need multiple gifts, grab a cost-effective punnet of plants and re-plant into their own little pots (which you could decorate if you have time). You can pick up six plants in a punnet for as little as $4. Alternatively, packets of seeds are also fun and cost effective gifts. Plants are an eco-friendly gift that keeps giving!

3. Handmade Christmas ornaments
If you have the time, handmade Christmas ornaments are a fun, festive gift idea. Your recipient can pop them on their Christmas tree, or decorate their workspace or other areas of the home with them. Simple ideas are felt shapes i.e. a Christmas tree, snowman, candy canes, etc. decorated with diamantes or other Christmas-related trimmings, pinecones sprinkled with glitter, or foam baubles covered in pom poms, glitter or sequins. The kids will love getting involved too. 

4. Bottle of wine
So the thing with booze is that you want to make sure your recipient drinks. Even if you’re not sure if they like wine or not, they can always share the bottle or take it to dinner at a friend’s house.  But if they don’t drink at all – for religious or personal reasons…well that’s just a bit awkward! 

Once you’ve established if they drink, opt for a style of wine with broad appeal, like a Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re lucky enough to live in a wine region, pick something local – especially if you’ve been to that winery before – it’s more personal. Budget permitting, buy a six-pack or a case and stash a couple of bottles somewhere dark and cool as an “emergency/last-minute” gift. 

5. Box of Chocolates
The classic box of chocolates is the perfect crowd-pleasing gift… “What to bring when you’re told not to bring a thing!” The trick with choccies is buying them when they’re on special and keeping them in the fridge or somewhere cool at home. The supermarkets heavily discount boxes of chocolates regularly, so stock up accordingly. Another perfect last-minute gift option. 

6. Stationery
We’re spoiled for choice these days when it comes to beautiful, affordable stationery. Officeworks, Target, and Kmart are great places to start for sourcing lovely notebooks, journals, pens and desk accessories in on-trend prints and colours. Stationery also makes a great gift for men, women and kids…you can never have enough blank notebooks!

Hopefully these ideas will give you some inspiration for those thoughtful, inexpensive Christmas gifts. Now to finish your gift list…

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