This may be difficult to believe, given that Americans are so gung-ho on their holidays, but gift giving isn't really a "thing" with my family. After I found out that the guy with the big white beard's house melted in the North Pole, Christmas and the other holidays, lost some of their luster. Not to mention, as I got older, the sheer over-commercialization of the holidays—from the twinkling lights to the mad rush at malls—became...nauseating.
Not to ruin the holiday cheer and sentiment, but I tend to agree with my father that the rush to buy presents for loved ones has become a "disease". That being said, I'm all for sharing a gift with someone to let them know you're thinking of them. As a matter of fact, no one needs a holiday to trigger that sentiment. In some cases, the spontaneous, "Here. I saw this and thought of you!" sentiment is far more genuine...and unexpected.
Gift-giving for me, as it has been over the last several years, often comes in the form of two things: shared experiences (e.g., the purchase of a Botanical Garden membership!) or DIY fun. One of the best, simplest and cost-effective gifts I love is a Mason Jar Succulent. You can often find a mason jar floating around for free, but if not, they typically range from $0.99 - $3.49, depending on color and size (the green ones seem to be a tad more expensive).
Succulents you can get year round, or if you have been propagating a few in your home, then you don't even need to purchase one. The rest of the products you can easily get—if you don't already have on hand. And decorating the jar with some finishing touches, like a piece of ribbon or twine, or a little evergreen branch salvaged from an old Christmas tree or wreath, will do just fine! 🌿
- 1 wide-mouthed Mason jar
- 1/3 cup of small stones
- 1/4 cup of charcoal
- succulent and cacti potting soil
- small succulent of choice
- twine or ribbon (optional)
- evergreen branch (optional)
- Add the layer of stones to the bottom of the Mason jar. This helps provide some drainage.
- Next add the layer of charcoal above the stones. This helps prevent any bacterial buildup when you water the succulent.
- Add the succulent potting soil about 3/4 of the way up the jar. Plant your succulent in the jar and then take soil, spoonful at a time and carefully fill soil along the edges of the jar. Pack firmly.
- Tie twine around the mouth of the jar and add a branch (optional). You can also provide some care instructions for the plant. Make it fun, like, "Hi! I'm a succulent. I like lots of sun and little water. Water me once a week in the growing season and once ever two weeks during the cold season. Please don't drown me. I don't like wet feet!"