Martha has a variety of homekeeping tips on page 136 of December Living.
She suggests we use fabric instead of wrapping paper and recommends making sacks. They’re reusable and can be tied with ribbon. I don’t really like this idea. It’s too homey and country looking for my taste. Somehow handing someone a cloth sack doesn’t feel as nice as handing them a wrapped gift or even a pretty gift bag.
She recommends we get kids involved in decorating, making cookies and drawing pictures. I agree with this. Our kids are definitely involved. They are each responsible for wrapping the gifts that are from them. They do the cookie decorating and gingerbread house decorating. We also have a tree in the family room that is just theirs and they put their own ornaments on it each year. When they were younger, they would decorate the outsides of envelopes or draw pictures to give people.
Martha suggests looking for alternatives to store bought gift wrap and lists all the tired suggestions of using the comics, a map, sewing patterns, etc. I’m tired of people suggesting this and really I don’t want to get a gift wrapped in newspaper. I think it’s boring and tacky.
A green suggestion in this section is to shred the wrapping paper after the holidays and use it for packing. I like that idea a lot.
The section recommends keeping universal gifts on hand for an unexpected gift situation. I don’t do this. All of our holiday gatherings are planned in advance and I don’t have to worry about someone coming over unexpectedly.
Offering your time instead of a gift is another suggestion here. I like this, but I think it has to be something the person really will use. It’s easy to say you’ll babysit or take your grandmother on an outing, but a lot of times I think the recipients feel awkward about actually redeeming these gifts.
Another tip suggests planning ahead for holiday parties by moving coats around and making space in the fridge. Not a concern here since it looks like we won’t be hosting a single thing at our house this year. A good tip though.
Creative gift cards are another Martha suggestion. She says to buy them from unusual places like bakeries, golf courses, hair salons, etc. I usually give one uncle a gift certificate to a bakery and in the past we’ve given my mother-in-law a hair salon certificate (which I don’t think she liked by the way). These can be good gifts, but I think you have to really know the person well enough to know what they would be interested in.
The last suggestion is to start a giving folder, where you keep a running list of ideas for gifts. I have a word document on my computer where I do this. It’s a great way to jot down things that come to you through the year which you might forget by December.