With the economy always at the forefront of our minds, we always try to simplify the holidays in some way.  We’ve put together a list of gift ideas that may keep you hooked even when the world is booming again.

1. Snowman in a Can. Take a clean paint can and paint the outside of it with a snowman scene (or leave it silver with white dot stickers). Put inside: a toque, mittens, buttons, plastic carrot and a scarf. Voila!  You have the finishing touches to your snowman.

2. Gingerbread Tree Ornaments.  For years we adorned the tree with simple hard gingerbread men tied with white string.  (Anotomical correctness at your own discretion).

3. Monogrammed Towels and Sheets.  Take inexpensive sets to a stitch-it shop and embellish with the kids’ names, or fun initials.

4. Children’s Cloth napkins. Use fabric paint to adorn the corners of white cloth napkins.  A perfect grandparent treat, and environmental too.

5. Pottery bowl.  Have the kids paint it – a family treasure for years to come.  There are lots of ceramics studios that allow you to paint your own, or pre-made pottery.

6. Journal Jar: Spark young writers with a clever gift in a jar.  Make a list of questions (preferably over a bottle of wine with your partner) and cut each question from a sheet of paper. Fill the jar with journal slips, and enclose a notebook with the jar.  Have your child tape a question into the book, and then write and illustrate the answer.

7. Homemade Soap: See our recipe, and add a favourite toy (like a Matchbox car!) inside

8. “Dinner in a Bag”. For those with less sophisticated palettes than yours…this is a great way to introduce others to ethnic foods.  Fill a cloth grocery bag with the dry and non-perishable ingredients for an Indian dinner for two, Mexican dinner, or Spanish Tapas party.  Enclose with directions and shopping list for the meats and veggies.  A nice touch is to add a printout about the country or a nice book.

9. Homemade playdough. A bit healthier and fun when you make it yourself.  See our recipes for flavoured and fun options.  Roll the playdough into balls and wrap it in the same colour cellophane paper with lots of ribbons.

10. A Nature bag.  Place a notepad, magnifying glass, pencil, glue, and a book on birds, rocks, or foliage in a canvas bag.  You could supply a list of scavenger hunt items, or see what the kids come up with on their nature hunts.

11. A costume box. Stimulate your small thespians with a carton full of odds and ends.  Your little pirates, princesses and puppies will thank you.

12. Lemonade Stand. Give the kids all they need for a successful summer foray into entrepeneur-land.  A good lemonade recipe, plastic cups, napkins, a piggy bank, wooden spoon, tablecloth and sign will get them yearning for the snow to melt.