Material consumerism thread ahead, not for discussing the finer points and origins of christmas! I think I usually buy pretty reasonable presents for people. On large people enjoy my gifts, although I'd readily admit this is more due to the fact that I'm a horribly self-absorbed lazy person that leaves buying gifts to the last minute and thus spends far too much money. This year it is different. I want to get in early and partially offset cost with creativity. Not entirely because I'm a cheap-ass (I am a student) but also because I realise that extravagance sometimes embarrasses people, and some feel obliged to spend reciprocally . I think most people also enjoy getting thoughtful rather than expensive gifts. This is where I was hoping that you guys would come in. Instead of just being for my benefit, I was wondering if people would be interested in sharing awesome gift ideas they've given, received, and conjured up. For the benefit of the thread and our finances perhaps can we try to work by an absolute upper limit of $US50. Bonus credit for personal handiwork ! Minus points for gift vouchers to music retailers . My thoughts so far....... A Wollemi Pine This one is perfect for the green thumb recipient. It's an ancient relic with a fascinating story of apparent extinction and re-discovery of a single, secluded, and secret stand in a national park in australia. In the ground it does grow quite large (40 meters large!), but it will also grow spectacularly in pots and can be pruned to keep small. It comes in at around $AU44.95 and is available from http://www.wollemipine.com/. Retail garden centres also regularly have them in stock much cheaper. It does appear to be more expensive in the UK and US but worth checking out in retail stores. There is also a great little book available that documents the rediscovery of this plant and the propagation efforts to save it. A slice of every sale also go to the preservation of the species. Composting Worm Farm A good gift for the horticultural/environmentalist/fisherman. Worm farms are great at knocking down kitchen scraps into useable compost. The farms are an ingenious set up of ever-rotating trays that compost incredibly fast, leaving you with both top quality worm-casting compost and an organic liquid fertiliser in the bottom tray. They are made from recyclable plastic and are fly proof (unless you leave the lid off!). At around $US50 they are at the top end of the price scale. For the Aussies the best place to pick these up is your local council chambers. The farm uses a special kind of extra-veracious red tiger worm (normal earthworms won't work) that are available to buy separately. These will not survive outside the farm as they starve to death under normal conditions. These come in between $US10-20 so this is a good gift for mother/father combo etc. One half gets the worms (mother-in-law ), the other half gets the farm! As I mentioned above they are also great for fishing or feeding your exotic pets. A gift that truely keeps on giving . An iced tea jug Hear me out! This might seem a little uninspired but in the southern hemisphere it's just kicking into summer. That means that it is insanely hot, hot, hot. A nice iced tea jug is something that the recipient (mother, father, girlfriend, boyfriend, grandparents, work colleagues etc) can use over the course of summer and be reminded of you every time they escape the heat with a long, cool iced tea and a good book. It comes in at a RRP of $AU24.95 which leaves plenty in the budget to bulk out a reasonable hamper with some exotic specialty teas, fresh berries, a small pot of mint, and a bottle of spiced rum or vodka for decadence. More appealing than you thought isn't it ! Cook for people This one takes a little bit of thought and pre-planning although christmas recipes really aren't that difficult. Cooking is also really cheap although does take an investment in time. But nothing's more christmassy than rich, sweet foods. Some good ideas that are great fun to make are gingerbread houses (especially for kids), fruit mince pies, and for those feeling adventurous christmas puddings. There are plenty of free recipes online to help you out. Of these the old gingerbread house is a great one and a personal favorite of mine; Gingerbread is a cinch to make and with a little white icing, food colouring, mixed sweets, and creativity in a short time you can knock up something that looks extremely extravagant that the recipient will be picking at and pulling apart for days. Nothing is as sweet as knocking up one of these for you significant other or kids. Especially given the ability to personalise it. That's about it for me except for a quick mention of charity gifts. I've not done this before but received one last year and was chuffed. Lots of charity's do it where you can sponsor a gift for a village in an underdeveloped country (i.e. mosquito nets), and give a card to your recipient telling them that you've bought them something for someone needy. This is great for the socially responsible person that has everything. I appreciated it anyway . So it's your turn. What inspirational gift ideas have you got to share to broaden the collective giving spirit?