If we weren’t broke before coming to this program, after about 2.5 years you’ll bet we are now! There’s no time to get a job and no money to be spent on expensive, luxurious gifts. So, what’s a naturopathic student to do? In order to partake in the materialism of the holiday season (and I actually do love giving gifts), here are some very cheap, fun, healthy and easy gift ideas for the entire family that will actually be used and enjoyed!
1) Homemade wall art: For a go-to creative and personal gift, I often have a giant print of an awesome, good quality photo made (Costco will print you a giant 12×18″ photo for around $2). Then, I purchase a large frame form Ikea for about $6, and tape the photo onto the white paper template included in the frame. Voila! A touching personalized piece of artwork that can be hung on the wall and that is guaranteed to decrease your loved ones’ cortisol levels and increase their serotonin every time they look at it.
2) Homemade natural cosmetics: Christmas tradition often lands my father, brother and I in the Body Shop, buying body butters for my mom, which she loves. This year I thought, why not try this recipe? Yum! I ordered cocoa butter, shea butter, and other natural beauty ingredients from this website, and bought some pretty glass jars from Dollarama for $1 each. The order was just under $50 but I bought enough for an endless supply of various body butters, lotions, lip balms and deodorants, which I plan to make in the new year. So, it’ll be worth it in the long run and an educational experience as I learn to make my own natural body products.
3) Create a self-care gift package: Buy a bamboo loofah from Dollarama (yes, they have them for $2), a few pretty washcloths, a hot water bottle (probably also available at Dollarama) and a bottle of castor oil. As a bonus, include wool socks and a mason jar of Epson salts. Next, create a self-care instruction booklet, full of handouts that outline how to perform alternating hot and cold showers, castor oil packs, cold socks, dry brushing and the oil cleansing method for facial cleansing. What greater gift can you give someone than the gift of natural self-care?
4) Homemade teas: Forgo David’s and buy dried herbs like mint, dandelion, chamomile, etc. straight from an herbal dispensary (or grow your own). Or, you can create this delicious tea from leftover things around the house: save mandarin orange peels, dry them and chop them into small pieces. Add them to a mason jar along with liberal amounts of cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Tie the mason jar with a seasonal bow and a set of instructions to serve 1 tbs of orange peel tea per mug of hot water, allowing it to steep for 15 minutes. This tea is light-tasting and delicious. Even better, it’s an ancient Chinese secret for weight-loss and relieving indigestion. Give someone the gift of being able to overeat this holiday season!
5) Baked goods: In a mason jar or recycled tin container (or, if you don’t have any to recycle, you can pick one up at Dollarama… clearly by this point you’re recognizing a Dollarama trend in this post) gift some of their favourite cookies (like these ones or even these!). Decorate the container with a festive bow or ribbon and don’t forget to include the recipe so that this gift can keep on giving.
6) The gift of yoga: I’ve seen quality yoga mats sold for under $10 at dollar stores or places like Winners. Include with the mat a month-long subscription to an online yoga site, such as this one, my favourite online yoga community that includes expertly instructed videos for yogis of all abilities. A one month subscription is about $10 and gives you unlimited access to thousands of yoga, pilates and meditation videos as well as insightful articles on health and nutrition. Encourage your loved ones to start the new year off right by getting fit in their pajamas.
7) Go DIY online: The website More Design Please has amazing, easy-looking crafts that would make awesome gifts. I love the doily light fixture and t-shirt necklace. Or, you can make a no-sew workout shirt, for a fitness-loving friend. There are also tons of other online projects for the more DIY-savvy among you.
8) A book: Abiding by family tradition, books are always my go-to gift for pretty much everyone. They’re useful, educational, versatile and you can always find the perfect book for each person. The great things about books is the price range: from free to, well, expensive. To stick to the lower end of the price spectrum, try looking for used books or do some book-swapping with friends. The Toronto Reference Library has a used book store called Book Ends on the main floor where hundreds of used books are categorized by subject and sold for $1 to a loving owner; every book needs a good home!
9) Free naturopathic labour: Believe it or not, we’ve learned quite a lot of skills in the 2.5 years we’ve been at school. So, what about lavishing your family and friends with a complementary relaxation massage, constitutional hydrotherapy treatment, acupuncture session or even cooking a delicious hypoallergenic meal, using a recipe from this amazing site.
10) A donation: It might not necessarily be a cheaper gift option, but at least you won’t end up gifting a bunch of crap that they’ll need to store later. You’ll also be helping our world become a better, more giving, less consumer-driven place. Donate to a cause your family member cares about. My brother is passionate about free and open media so, in his name, I gave a donation to openmedia.ca. There are hundreds of other causes online, like this one (wink, wink) that can make a real difference by providing free naturopathic medical care to residents of an under-served rural community.
See you at Dollarama!