Love can build a gift

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Sometimes the best gifts cost you nothing but time and love. Here's are some no-cost gift ideas:

SHARE

- Gather family recipes for a younger generation or collect your favorites for a friend.

- Propagate a houseplant. It'll take a few weeks for new roots to grow from the clipping, but once potted, a propagated plant makes for a virtually cost-free gift. Try ivy and philodendron.

Not enough time? Share what you've got. Roses clip well.

"A lot of those are still in bloom," said Gerald Stephens, an owner of Nurseries Caroliniana in North Augusta. "Or gather some camellias to float in a bowl. But don't try to clip a poinsettia. It's almost impossible."

- A favorite book from your collection can make a thoughtful gift, especially if you take a moment to write a note explaining why you wanted to share it with the recipient.

MAKE IT

l Make a mix CD.

- Tape interviews with elderly family members. Jot down questions to get started.

- Create a simple Web site or blog for the less technologically inclined members of your family.

- Make ornaments by hand. Try using salt dough, which can be set in the oven and uses ingredients found in the kitchen pantry, said Pat McMahon, an instructor teaching an upcoming holiday workshop at the Gertrude Herbert Institute of Art.

"They're really fun. I used to do this all the time with my family," she said. "We still have those ornaments on the tree."

To make salt dough ornaments, combine one cup of salt with 1 cup of hot tap water until dissolved. Add two to four cups of flour and knead into a firm dough. Roll out shapes or form by hand. Bake in a 200-degree oven until hard. After they cool, paint them with acrylics if desired. Remember to punch a hole before baking if the ornament is to be hung.

GIVE YOUR TIME

l Teach a skill. Impart wisdom on anything from knitting and painting to car maintenance and home care.

- Teens, offer to pack away the Christmas decorations for your parents. Wrap ornaments in newspaper or tissue paper, carefully wind strings of lights and drag the tree to the curb. Rake leaves now and commit to mulching and weeding come springtime.

- Volunteer to give pet care. Offer grooming, cleaning up after or walking the pet, especially if the owner can't always be home.

FIND HELP ONLINE

l Print it. Marilyn Scott-Waters is known as the toy maker for the paper toy templates on her Web site, thetoymaker.com. She offers more than 50 free designs, which can be printed, cut and pasted into race cars, fairy wands, puzzles and gift boxes.

Other sites, such as papertoys.com, offer detailed templates on everything from the Capitol Building and Eiffel Tower to a Sphinx and a Hummer.

Reach Kelly Jasper at (706) 823-3552 or kelly.jasper@augustachronicle.com.

When Gallup polled Americans about their holiday spending in 2007, most said they would spend about $900 on Christmas gifts. This year, a record 35 percent said they'll spend less this year than last. It seems tough financial times call for some fiscal restraints, even during the holidays. With Black Friday, the start of the holiday shopping season looming, we've got some tips on how to celebrate a fiscally sensible season.


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