For as long as I can remember, my immigrant mother had never fully grasped the concept of Thanksgiving. Although our family had years where we assimilated to the tradition of turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce, the prevalence of those quintessential “American” dishes at the dinner table waned every year I grew an inch. By the time I was at least five feet tall, any Americanized version of Thanksgiving had ceased to exist in my household. Instead, my mom had unintentionally created her own tradition: Buying gifts on Thanksgiving because “giving” was in the name.
This year’s Thanksgiving was no different. Fresh off the flight from home back to Berkeley, I already ache for her gift-giving tradition once again — not only because of the wonderful purchases my mom makes — but also because of my desire to spread such holiday spirit to those around. Hence, here are some gift ideas to show your loved ones a bit of extra appreciation this time of year.
1. Handmade necklaces
When I was younger, I remember my dad crafting a butterfly charm necklace for my mom. Though she doesn’t ever wear it anymore, the necklace has turned into my own little good-luck charm against the world which I now occasionally wear. I also have another brown cord necklace with a fairy charm which my best friend gifted me last Christmas. This one serves as a reminder to bring me back down to earth. Sometimes, a handmade necklace with a meaningful charm is worth more than any expensive piece of jewelry in the world. After all, intention matters more than expense.
2. Candid Polaroids
If you haven’t yet invested in a polaroid printer, I highly recommend doing so. For the past few years, I’ve become enthralled with creating little picture frames filled with polaroid print-outs of my friends and I. There’s nothing more sentimental than piecing together bits and pieces of candid moments and scrapbooking them together, feeling full of gratitude and warmth for the time you’ve spent together.
3. Pieces of art
Perhaps one of the highest-tier compliments you can receive is when a friend gifts you a piece of art they say reminds them of you every time they look at it. Meaning they think of you as a work of art, which is quite flattering if you ask me. If you consider yourself artistically inclined, you may even want to try honoring your friend’s distinct individuality by using them as a muse for your next piece of artwork.
4. Coffee and treats
For those of you who aren’t crafty, the small gift of delivering a freshly brewed coffee and baked treat from a local bakery to that special someone in the morning is one of the most heartwarming surprises. Personally speaking, it’s rather difficult for me to show affection without feeling “icked out.” So, the way I show my love and appreciation is by waking up a little earlier and subtly judging my friend’s coffee orders that I deliver — like any main love interest in a movie.
5. Handwritten letter and treat
Oddly enough, I feel as though these gifts go hand in hand. When life gets a little rough around the edges, there’s nothing more soothing than devouring a delectable piece of cake or sniffing the warm aroma of chocolate chip cookies from the oven. Just like how these treats are baked with love, handwritten letters come from the heart. Not to mention, they are also quite cost-effective. Who would have the audacity to oppose feeling like a little kid at school lunch, reading a handwritten note accompanied by a little treat on the side?
You don’t need to buy luxurious gifts with an exorbitant price tag to show those you love that you care about them this holiday season. The most special gifts come from the heart. Though it may be an overused cliché, sometimes it truly is just the thought that counts.