Thursday, January 7, 2010

The Practical Christmas

2009 was the year of the useful gift — the year that practicality prevailed. Chalk it up partly to the economy, but in large part to the acute awareness of almost everyone we knew that we were all acquiring way too much stuff. We had our nomadic kids’ unclaimed belongings. We had our own years’ worth of detritus. And we had all recently helped a loved one to downsize (and inherited a few things in the process).
iTunes Gift Card - Silhouette - $25
We were practical in our gift choices — clothes, yak traks, iTunes gift cards, cooking utensils, socks, artisanal soaps and lotions, chocolates — not a single wind-up, supersized, realistic-looking cockroach toy in the bunch.

We also shipped practically, subscribing to the USPS’ clever “If it fits, it ships.” campaign. We planned gift lists thinking about how they would fit into the post office’s flat rate boxes and were amazed at the speed at which things travelled from East to West. (A hint: This is a great way to ship out something like a doorstop. The heavier the item, the better deal for the customer.)

And we received practical gifts in return. There were edible gifts: homemade cookies, a coffee cake, roasted mixed nuts, smoked oysters from Maine where friends had vacationed, fair trade chocolate. Useful gifts: pajamas, a MOMA pot scraper, a calendar, a clever picture frame. And a most practical book: Green Cleaning for Dummies gifted by a friend who works for the City. Recommended by a contractor who is helping New Haven go green, it has numerous tips and very simple recipes for setting up and maintaining a green household. Plenty of projects of all sizes for the year ahead. Check it out.

It’s too cold to think about washing the windows, but I guess I could get those cleaners mixed up and be ready for Spring. Add large amounts of white vinegar to your shopping list.

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