Thanksgiving is this week, and for most of us, that also means the Christmas Season is officially upon us! The Hagaman and Stahlmann families spend our Thanksgiving day at Busch Gardens, which is totally decked out in full Christmas regalia, and we typically end the night with our first Christmas movie of the year.
We’re not the big Black Friday people, but this is certainly the time of year to start thinking about gift, which means we need to find some extra time and money.
Have you ever met a mom who isn’t busy? We haven’t. Now add the holidays to an already full plate, and wow! Things can get interesting.
But this year, we’ve got an idea that will make you feel like a holiday superhero while saving you money AND giving your family some quality, memory-making time together.
It’s called the Stock Gift, and now is the perfect time to start working on it.
What is a Stock Gift?
In a nut shell, the Stock Gift is something you can produce in large quantities and have available for co-op leaders, co-workers, neighbors, church friends, club leaders, and anyone else that you’d like to honor during this season. You can even have a basket of Stock Gifts ready to go for anyone who drops in between now and New Years.
The Birth of the Stock Gift
For me (Jenni speaking), this tradition started when I was about three years old. We lived in Newport, Rhode Island for a short time while my mom was on active duty in the Navy, and regular trips to the beach filled our home with more large seashells than my mom knew what to do with. It was the 70s, and everyone still smoked then (what were they thinking?), so my mother had an idea. She went out and bought enamel model paint, and set me up at the kitchen table every night while she made dinner. She cooked. I painted the shells. We talked. And everyone in our life got painted seashell ashtrays for Christmas that year. The Stock Gift was born!
One year, she ordered a slew of wallet size school pictures, and we saved glass jars for a few months. Mom got a bunch of electrical tape in different colors. I taped my picture to the jar, and then used small squares of the tape to create a mosaic design all around the jar. Voila! Personalized pencil holders for everyone we knew.
Then there were those potholders. You know the ones I mean. Anyone who grew up in the 70s or 80s is well acquainted with the red square plastic loom and the multicolored fabric loops. We were all pro weavers, and everyone on our Christmas list got a pot holder.
Food is an Easy Stock Gift
When I became a momma, I carried on the tradition. In my early years of parenting, the Internet was in its infancy, and as far as I knew, google (really spelled googol) was just some ridiculously large number that only math geeks understood. My Stock Gifts in those days were inspired by magazine recipes. We made big vats of fudge one year, toffee another year, then buck eyes, then peppermint bark. We bought candy boxes in the craft store and decorated them in festive ways. FYI — kids’ fingerprints dipped in red and green paint make super cute holiday boxes.
Now that we live in the age of Pintrest, the options for Stock Gifts are unlimited, but the idea behind it is the same — spend quality time as a family doing something fun and creative to honor the people in your life during the holiday season.
Both of our families have done quite a bit of food because it seems to be the easiest way to incorporate little kids into the process. They can pour and mix and sprinkle at almost any age. The chocolate covered pretzels we made one year were a big hit and they were also pretty. So we save a bunch of extras to incorporate into our gift wrapping for some of the bigger gifts. We’ve done that with pretty homemade ornaments too.
When kids get a little older and their fine motor skills improve, you can do more detailed projects. Ornaments made from items collected in nature can turn out amazingly well. With a little help from Pintrest, they can look like something you picked up at Pier 1. You could even have a smaller tree in your home filled with Stock Gift ornaments, and when visitors drop in during the holidays, you can direct them to the tree to pick their favorite one and take it home. And like our chocolate covered pretzels, they can also spruce up your gift wrapping.
A Learning Experience
We homeschoolers love fun activities with a lesson tucked inside. So one year for our Stock Gift we made homemade soap from scratch. We went to the butcher and got a bunch of beef fat (tallow). We learned how to render the fat and studied the intricate process of soap making. It’s quite the scientific experiment. We learned about exothermic reactions when we mixed the lye with water, and then watched the thermometers carefully as we heated the fat to an exact temperature and cooled the lye to a different temperature. And then we took turns stirring patiently for a few hours as the saponification process happened (that’s the technical term for the chemical reaction that produces soap). FYI – audio books come in handy when there’s a lot of stirring or waiting involved.
We added essential oils to scent our soap and different spices to color it and then let it cure for six weeks. When it was time to cut it into bars, when spent an afternoon out in nature collecting twigs and small pinecones. We wrapped each bar in either fabric or burlap and added raffia and our little nature doo-dads.
While you’re working on your Stock Gift, you could set aside time to make homemade wrapping paper. You could use a large roll of butcher paper or cut open used paper bags. Line a table with the paper and have the kids decorate it. They could cover the paper with painted handprints in festive colors, or they could draw on it or use stamps or stencils.
Stop back on Wednesday. We’re going to share 5 Steps to Stock Gift Success. In the meantime, leave us a comment and tell us about your favorite stock gift idea.