Here’s the thing about Christmas, I’m not particularly a fan of it – or rather the commercial side of it – and I blame tinsel. I really don’t like tinsel.
I’m pretty sure there was a time when I “banned” my mother from putting up a Christmas tree. Such a Grinch, I know. But it has taken me about a decade to be ‘okay’ with the idea of Christmas again; I raged against the multi-million rand industry for some time (and still do), I raged against the words “Merry Christmas” because (personal opinion) it became like that “how-are-you-good-thank-you-and-you” rhyme – empty with no meaning, I raged (and still do) against the time spent in kitchens on extravagant meals while other go hungry, and I raged (and still do) against the pressure people put themselves under – financially and emotionally – to give the perfect gift.
Christmas is just another date on the calendar, and it is nice ‘excuse’ and ‘reason’ to get your loved ones together – whether it is on the day or not – and really BE with them. It is a time to share the love, feel the love and be the love.
My mother is now confined (and allowed) to do a DIY-tree from drift wood or something similar. She’s creative, so it all works out and there’s no tinsel (that’s a bonus).
Gifts – whether it is for Christmas or a birthday – DOESN’T have to be big or turn your brain into a calculator and stir up the January survival fear. In my personal opinion, gifts should always be a token of appreciation and love, something small, maybe something useful and with a personal touch, to just emphasize your love for your loved ones. If love is the gift, your gift is merely the bow on top.
Here are a few gift ideas that will be great not only for Christmas, but also for birthdays and/or special occasions, and not only for friends or family but also for yourself.
You worked hard this year. Go on. You deserve it.
Cost: R35 up to whatever you want to spend.
You simply can’t go wrong with coffee. What is better than giving someone the gift of waking up? Mastertons Coffee and Tea Specialists is my go-to for this one, you can either buy it in store (Spar, Checkers, Kloppers, etc.) or visit their shop (which moved by the way) or, buy it online. They sell a one-cup filter coffee maker set (filter, spoon and box with 40 filter papers) for just R35, and the standard coffee package of 250g is R59.95. My favourite blends are Brown Gold and Blend of the Bay.
Cost: It depends on whether you buy it for one person (R640), a couple (R1055) or a family of up to 2 adults and 5 children (R1290).
I gift myself with a Wild Card every year and this card gives me access to 80+ Parks and Reserves around Southern Africa, which are included in the SANParks, Msinsi, EKZNWildlife, Cape Nature and Swazi Clusters Parks. For every day or night you spend in a national park (amongst others) you have to pay a conservation fee, so for me visiting Addo Elephant National Park for a day is a no-brainer, stopping at Storms River Mouth (Tsitsikamma Section of Garden Route National Park) for lunch and perhaps a quick walk to the suspension bridge, en route to somewhere else, is the cherry-on-top pit stop and more scenic than just a fuel stop. With conservation going up to R93 a day (for Kruger National Park), you will get your money’s worth in no time if you tend to visit the parks often (plus, it is great motivator to get out and explore).
Cost: Whatever you want to spend.
This is more of a group gift, than an individual gift but why not prearrange something with friends or family that all gifts for the next year (or longer) will be an amount that will go into a travel stokvel? Did you know that R5 billion is invested in an estimated 800 000 stokvels in South Africa? Flight Centre started a Stokvel for travel a few months ago and there is also Stokfella, an app developed by entrepreneur, Tshepo Moloi, which is an online stokvel platform that not only makes it easier for stokvel clubs to manage their monthly payments and claims online, but grow their savings through sound investment channels.
Cost: R0 up to whatever you want to spend.
Pinterest is your oyster. You don’t have to be Picasso to give someone a hand-made gift.
A lil’ Plant
Cost: R0 up to whatever you want to spend.
I’ve been cultivating my green fingers for the past few weeks and plants are incredible, especially when it comes to herbs and vegetables! What is better than eating from your garden or even your windowsill? Herbs grow easy, especially mint (and that pairs greatly with gin and other drinks), fancy lil’ microgreens can land in your salad after about 10 days or you can make a little succulent garden. You can propagate almost anything and you’ll spend nothing but love and wee bit of time on the gift.
Something Previously Owned
Cost: Mahala, free, gratis.
Regifting or giving someone something you’ve previously owned is not tacky. Do you have a special book you know someone else will enjoy? Pass it along! Don’t pass it along just to skip out on buying something, pass it along if you truly know the item will bring joy to someone else.
Cost: Depending on which magazine – whether digital or not – from R333 for a year subscription.
A travel magazine subscription has been a family favourite for as long as I can remember, especially for birthdays. It is basically the gift that keeps on giving, or well, it keeps on giving for 12 months. My favourite South African travel magazine, Weg!/Go!, is R360 for the digital subscription (one year), or R432 for a 12 month print subscription (the digital subscription of Weg! is R333). And of course there are other magazines out there as well, some also have 6 month subscriptions.
Cost: R30 up to whatever you want to spend.
December is synonymous with biscuits, and everyone likes biscuits so why not put on the oven and then the fan (because this weather is too crazy too early) and start baking? It doesn’t have to be cookies, it can be cupcakes or muffins (and you can freeze those) – again, Pinterest is your oyster – and with those premixes you can’t screw it up. If you do screw it up it might be better to rather just spend time with the fan.
Cost: Whatever you want to spend.
Nope, not kidding. Fuel might just be greatest gift of them all, especially over the holiday period when people are travelling a lot, and if you don’t want to give your loved one money with a note saying “fill up”, be creative and wiggle-wiggle-wangle a way to get a ride with them and make a pit stop at a fuel station.
A Night Away
Cost: +/-R300 up to whatever you want to spend.
Giving someone a night away at a hotel, guesthouse or even camp site assures the one receiving the gift that the biggest portion of travel costs for a weekend getaway is covered. If you don’t know which location to choose, go for something which is about 2 hours from home, and if it is a place you’ve experienced and enjoyed before, even better. While you might not always know what date to choose, try to steer away from birthdays (unless you know this person won’t want to spend their birthday in any other way), avoid January (and perhaps even February) and try to book the accommodation for a Saturday (if it is the first Saturday in the month even better); by booking the Saturday the receiver can always decide whether or not they want to add another night. You can book online with something like Booking.com that offers free cancellation and date change before a certain date, or DIY your own voucher and book the accommodation later when the receiver has decided on a date.
Since it is the season of giving, how about a getaway giveaway?
You can win one night’s accommodation for 2 people, worth R697 in the beautiful Nature’s Valley where the call of a Knysna Lourie will be your alarm clock! If an escape in nature is what you are after, this is the place to be; there are hiking trails, a beach, canoes can be hired, there is a restaurant and farm stall up the road and Plettenberg Bay is just 29 km away. There is a whole lot of magic in Nature’s Valley. Are you keen to discover it?
Here are the details:
Saturday, 2 March 2019 (check out 3 March 2019). Check in time is 12:00 and check out time is 09:00
One night of accommodation in the self-catering forest huts at Nature’s Valley Rest Camp which falls under the Tsitsikamma section of Garden Route National Park.
Travel costs to and from Nature’s Valley (about 220 km from Port Elizabeth), food and drink, extra nights, toll gate fees, activities and conservation fees (Conservation fees are R53 per person per day).
Other things to consider
- This place is in nature, seeing a spider or a moth flying around is not uncommon. If the idea of this is off-putting, this might not be the place for you.
- Huts don’t have their own ablutions and there are shared ablutions which are well-kept, neat and clean.
- I highly recommend booking another night to really relax.
- DATES ARE FIXED, if you know you can’t make it, don’t enter and give someone else a chance instead.
To find out more information about Nature’s Valley and the accommodation, click here.
How to enter
Comment below, or on the Facebook post (click here), and tell me who would be your plus one?
Competition will close on the 23rd of December 13:00 and winners will be announced on the 23rd of December before 19:00.