When buying friends and family the perfect present becomes paramount, the winter holidays can become tiresome. Consider casting off the necessity of acquiring gift receipts and embrace the liberated beauty of “not really doing the holidays.”

 Here are ten ways to savour connections, make new bonds, and share some laughter without purchasing a mountain of physical things—courtesy of your off-kilter, multi-holiday, pro-love, independent paper



1. The “you know you want to” present

Everyone knows that one thing their best friend wants to do but is generally too scared/apprehensive/awkward to go at alone. Arrange for the two of you to do said activity together. Donating blood, getting an armpit wax, and sex toy shopping all fit nicely in this category. 


2. Start a travel savings jar

For the traveler—particularly those who have difficulty with the actual saving for travel bit —create a savings jar for them. To make this glorified piggybank, use an empty 2L wine bottle; the bottleneck is particularly effective at preventing hungry paws from retrieving money once deposited. Decorate the bottle with photos and glitter and add some base cash to get your traveler started.


3. Make an unusually nice card

On Valentine’s Day in grade five, each student in my class wrote a compliment about every other student in the class and our teacher anonymously compiled them. I still enjoy reading some of the compliments on my list. This holiday season, get crafty by making cards that grudgingly pay your friends a compliment or two.


4. Get off the TTC grid

Know how to drive in a snowstorm and use an emergency brake? Rent a car, so that you and your giftee can benefit from getting out of the icy wind tunnel that is Toronto. Spend your gift day driving northward to Collingwood or Grey Bruce County, and walk the snowy trails or go skiing—cross-country offers limited possibilities for injury.


5. Get wordy

A) Give a year-long library subscription to your own personal collection of books by lending out your favourite reads—complete with underlining, spoilers, and sticky notes—on a monthly basis. 


B) Gift a friend their own literature for keeps. There is a huge selection of Canadian and international magazines which provide a great monthly read at a relatively low cost. The availability of thematic media allows you to give the woodworking, nature, architecture, politics, and/or fashion lover a subscription that easily suits their interests.


6. Gift the belongings your friends permanently “borrow”

Prior to Christmas last year, a friend had been in possession of two items of mine for over a year: a favourite purple sports bra and matching tank top. I abruptly demanded said items back, wrapped them up, and re-gifted them to her for Christmas. She was overjoyed that I had validated her practice of extended borrowing.


7. Try something new­ and make it a present

Trying something you’ve never done before makes you seem terribly thoughtful, even if the project doesn’t turn out so well. Never made alcohol before? Try brewing beer and give someone your inaugural batch. Want to start making preserves? Buy a load of fruit at the Lucky Moose and make a friend a few pots of jam.


8. Give coupons

Rather than 40 cent reduction on bulk poultry, make your coupons something desirable. Make a coupon for something your gift-recipient simply hates to do. If you aren’t interested in doing your friends’ dirty work, consider gifting coupons which commit you to teaching a friend or family member a skill they have always wanted to learn from you. In other words, teach your parents to cut and paste, send e-mails, and use Skype.


9. Curate photo albums (circa 2007)

Stalk a friend’s Facebook photos ad nauseum, select their most embarrassing photos, and print them at Shoppers. Write drunken stories in the margins for an extra thoughtful touch.


10. Sexual favours

The gift that keeps on giving.

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