As most folks are running around fiercely to holiday parties and the malls in search of the perfect gift, even in these troubled times, it dawned on me that this is a unique time of the year that preppers can share our enthusiasm for our lifestyle. I started my preparedness journey (Yes, ‘journey’, as I’m now sure there is not a final destination. Can you ever be too prepared?) a little less than a year ago, and through sites like SurvivalBlog, have spent many hours educating myself about the numerous issues we may face in TEOTWAWKI. I often find prepping hard to discuss with friends and family, for the risk of seeming odd or simply being ignored, but I do care enough that I want them prepared.
One simple way I have found to bring others into the loop, is to focus my Christmas presents on items that will bring exposure to the subject and be useful for everyday preparedness or TEOTWAWKI. Rather than giving a fruit cake that no one wants (although I do understand the shelf life to be quite long!), I am putting thought into each person and finding a gift that works for them.
For my father, who is an over-the-road trucker in the Midwest, I have assembled a Bug Out Bag (BOB). He has the basic safety gear and tools for his rig, but he does not carry food, fire starters, or extra clothes that may be necessary if he is stuck in a snow storm for several days. I have purchased a sturdy pack from a surplus store and have stocked it with bottles of water, MREs with heaters, candles, lighters, matches, emergency blanket, portable radio, flashlight, batteries, and other essentials. I’ve also included some wool socks, gloves and a toboggan vacuum sealed. I vacuum sealed them so he doesn’t get the urge to use them in a non-emergency with the thought of putting them back that never actually happens (i.e., it must be an emergency if he is going to break the vacuum seal). I used this trick with other items in the bag as well, so they don’t ‘wander off’ and are protected from the elements. I will have him add a flannel shirt and other appropriate clothes at the time that I give it to him.
For my mother, who is an avid gardener and cook, I purchased a grain mill, 45 pounds of hard red wheat, and a book about cooking with wheat. She loves to bake bread, but has traditionally used store-bought ingredients. Now she can experiment with the mill before a TEOTWAWKI situation and I have also added a much needed prep item to our inventory. My mother lives 200+ miles away, but that is my current BOL (bug-out location), until I can buy my own land.
Instead of more clothes or a trip to the day spa for my girlfriend, I have purchased her the same 9mm pistol that I carry. Some may think this is like giving her a vacuum cleaner or exercise videos, but it is not. Over the past year, she has learned to shoot, obtained her gun carry permit, and started shooting with me in our local practical pistol matches with my gun, which she likes. She enjoys the activity, is quite proficient, and will enjoy having her own and I will feel more at ease as well.
Stocking stuffers can be great opportunities to help others with preparations too. Little things, like pocket knives, flashlights, NOAA radios, multi-tools, etc, are handy items that everyone needs. Other great gifts are books and magazine subscriptions on the subject of preparedness or really any skill (carpentry, gardening, alternative energy, canning and preserving). My college friend is getting "Patriots", as he loves a good story and I think the first chapter will challenge his thinking on the world around us. And for women looking for a gift for their man, most would probably love a gift certificate for a gun training course. Hint, hint, if you are reading this, honey.
All the above are items that are purchased, and cash may be tight at home. But you don’t have to spend big money to get your point across or to be thoughtful. You could give friends or family homemade soup or vegetables that you have canned, and a handmade gift certificate for teaching them canning and preserving methods. You can give them packets of seeds so they can do container gardening and give them an opportunity to learn a skill. The possibilities are endless if you package the gift the right way.
I do not have children, but do have a niece and young cousins. For the little ones, how about camping equipment made for kids, and a trip to go camping with you, even if just in the backyard. Or maybe a compass and some maps, and teaching them how to properly use them to find a hidden treasure (your choice on what the treasure will be). A rod and reel and a fishing trip are things that will not only teach them useful skills, but will give what kids need most; more time with parents or mentoring adults. Think about what you wish you knew growing up, and give the gift that will last a lifetime. I’m fairly sure their skills with the X-Box will not help them much if the SHTF.
So, if you are going to celebrate the season by exchanging gifts, why not help those you care about and who may not have a preparedness mentality yet. This can also pertain to birthdays, anniversaries, graduations, or other special occasions. I’m sure you believe, as I, that this shows more thought and caring than the latest fad clothing or cool new techno gadget that will be rendered useless by an EMP.