Gift guide: Compost pail, cocktail glasses, blankets and more

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We’re calling it the 2011 money-wise, fun-loving, recession-induced, self-sufficiency-promoting, mostly practical but occasionally whimsical home and garden gift guide. Why? Because giving feels a bit different this year. Few of us are looking to spend with wild 2005 abandon, but we don’t want to be miserly either. We’re drawn to the pragmatic but fun. Gifts that perhaps encourage some self-sufficiency among our loved ones — and induce a smile.

When spending was easier, some people caught “spiritual Alzheimer’s,” says Robert Wicks, author of the new book “In Streams of Contentment: Lessons I Learned on My Uncle’s Farm.” “They lost their memories for the little things and the people who meant so much to them.”


Realizing this can give people “the chance to lean back and see things differently,” says Wicks, a clinical psychologist and professor at Loyola University Maryland. Don’t deny that the bank account is smaller or that the home repairs are waiting longer, but “make something different.” Realize that time is passing.

With that in mind, we offer some holiday presents meant to amuse -- and get used. For family, friends and others, how about a cute and clever piggy bank or welcoming and warm throw blanket? Mod lunch boxes for the (formerly) brown bagger or cocktail gear to make party hosts that much happier? How about garden goods to grow one’s own salad -- and compost the leftovers?

More gift picks will come in the days to follow, but here’s a good place to start:

PHOTO GALLERY: Holiday gifts for home and garden


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