Posted by: prepare4 | March 25, 2009

The Gift of Preparedness – Gift Ideas

The Gift of Preparedness
By Carolyn Nicolaysen

Toasters, ties, and toys. The season for giving not only tests our imagination and budget, but can also stretch our inspiration. Well, just in case your friends and kin could benefit from a little more Emergency Preparedness, here are some ideas on how to remember them with creative gift ideas that are fun and practical.

Gift Idea #1:The Theme Gift 

Choose a theme and give a gift that delivers on that theme.  Place a quote or scripture on the gift to announce your theme.  For example: 

  • Light:  “You light up my life” or quote John 12:35 ― “Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth.” 
    Include glow sticks, flashlights, maybe a flashlight and radio combo, candles in glass jars for power outages, or solar lights that can be charged during the day and brought in at night during a power outage.  

  • Eat, drink, and be merry: Give MRE meals, water, energy bars, and a travel game. 

  • Commuter survival: Orange safety vest, large safety glow sticks, work gloves, food and water. 

  • Food storage starter kit: A case of food from each of the food groups. 

  • The weather outside is frightful: Space blankets, rain poncho, hand-warmers, glow sticks, flashlight, battery-powered radio, hot cocoa and hot cider mix. 

Gift Idea #2: Gift Certificates

  • Garden Kit: Purchase a garden bucket, add some packets of seeds, a trowel, a planting guide and a gift certificate good for your help with next spring’s garden planting.  Add the book The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett for family reading.
  • Canning Kit: Give a case of new canning jars, some of your favorite canning recipes and a gift certificate for a lug of fruit from your local orchard next summer or a day of canning help. 

  • Canning Season Order Form: Create a gift certificate that is an order form for next canning season.  Label the top of the certificate “Redeemable from Summer 2007 Crop.” Directions: “Choose one from each section.”  Then create sections for items you normally can.  For example, “Fruit” choose from pears, applesauce or peaches.  You could include a jam and jelly section, vegetable section, and a “Just for Fun” section, which could include such things as pickles and spaghetti sauce. 

  • Disaster Preparedness Kit: Send for, or download, information concerning natural disasters known to occur in your area.  This information should also include counsel on what to do to be prepared for such emergencies.  Wrap it in a gift bag and add a gift certificate from a provider of 72-hour kits and preparedness items.  You will not only have “warned your neighbors,” but will have provided them with a way to act on the knowledge they have gained. 

Gift Idea #3: The Survival Kit 

  • College Survival Kits: With the recent earthquake in Hawaii affecting student at BYU Hawaii, it reminds us again of the importance of helping college students to prepare.  Everyone living independently, and this includes students living away from home, should have some food storage.  The following are some of my favorite ideas for students: 
    1. Cookies and soup in a jar.  You’ve seen these and they are great for students with little time to fix meals.  Layer cookie ingredients or the ingredients for soup in a quart canning jar.  Attach the direction for preparing the foods.  Pack 6 jars of cookie mixes and 6 jars of a variety of soup mixes in a canning jar box.
    2. Dinner basket. Purchase a large laundry basket and fill it with a copy of your favorite, or your student’s favorite, recipe.  Purchase all the ingredients to make that recipe 5 times.  Taco soup would be a great example since most of the ingredients are canned.
    3. Private cache. Purchase a case of a favorite food.  This is also great for young children.  It helps them realize just how much is really needed for a year’s supply and teaches them your commitment to having a year’s supply of food.  Brownies or Mac & Cheese are perfect here.
    4. Auto survival. Every student who drives a long distance to school should have an emergency car kit. Sadly, college students have frozen returning from Christmas holidays, when cars break down in severe cold temperatures. So in addition to coats and blankets carried separately during winter, kits should include: glow sticks for light if you need to remain in the car for an extended period, water packets, food bars, mylar blanket for warmth in winter or to cool a car during the summer, flashlight, poncho (preferably yellow for better visibility when walking), first aid kit, whistle, and towelettes for after changing a tire or putting on snow chains. This should be in a backpack or fanny pack, to keep hands free.  This is important as in an emergency you want hands free for balance, especially in the snow or when dealing with debris.
    5. 72-hour kit.  Refer to our October 17th Meridian article “BYU Hawaii was Ready for 6.6 Earthquake” for suggestions from school safety officials concerning building a kit for college students.
    6. Healthy semester kit. Remember college diets and late semester colds and flu?  Prepare a healthy semester kit by including vitamins, cold remedies like Zicam (or cold preventatives like Airborne), tissues, robe, slippers, and chicken soup.
  • Pandemic or medical emergency survival kit.  Okay, so this doesn’t sound fun. Nevertheless, pandemics often thrive when people are clustered indoors, as they are in winter. Include towelettes, small biohazard bags, hand sanitizers, medical masks, medical gloves, instructions for preparing for a medical emergency (these can be found on the Center for Disease Control website or at, and finally, a favorite family DVD.  After all when the flu hits everyone will need a distraction.   

  • Pet survival kit. Got Pets?  Include a leash, small food and water dishes, ID tag for their collar with the name and phone number of the family’s out of state contact, water and a couple of meat MREs.  MREs are good long after the 5-year shelf life, however they can experience a change in taste.  MREs which are due to “expire” can often be found at bargain prices and serve well as emergency pet supplies. 

  • Purchase local maps and regional maps. Mark several routes to exit the area in case of an emergency.  
  • The family shirt. Or whatever ― something that identifies you as part of a family unit is an important way to improve your chances for being reunited quickly in a Katrina-scale disaster. Purchase a solid color t-shirt for each member of the family.  Shirt sizes for children should be at least one size larger than they are now wearing.  Include a set of fabric crayons and instructions to create a family shirt.  These shirts will then be placed in their 72-hour kits and worn when the family needs to evacuate.  Each shirt should have the same picture on them but not a name.  Have each member contribute something to the picture, iron it on to a shirt and then recolor and reuse for each additional shirt.  Shirts should be a bright color to make them easier to spot in a crowd and more memorable.  I remember the frustration during Katrina when family members were looking for their children.  Everyone had seen a pretty little girl with curly hair but there were hundreds of pretty little girls with curly hair.  If your family is all wearing the same distinctive shirt it is much more likely that someone will remember seeing your child.  Even better, you might get a member of the media to say “This child is wearing a shirt just like this one”.  You can also use the same tactic with bandanas and baseball caps.  Just remember to make them all the same and distinctive from those you can purchase. 

  • Oil for your lamp. Don’t forget spiritual preparedness.  Give a set of scriptures or a small inspirational book to be kept in a 72-hour kit or in the car for times when you are stuck waiting for a road closure. The military style scriptures are a possibility.

  • Scripture-a-day. Compile favorite scriptures from family members and create a scripture for each day of the year or even a month. 

Gift Idea #4: A Subscription. 

Order a subscription to the Liahona magazine for a family member or friend who served a foreign language mission.  Some languages are published each month and some only once a year, but all are wonderful to receive. Of course, The Ensign, New Era, Friend, and Church News are excellent gifts for family who are not taking advantage of these resources. 

Gift Idea #4: Financial Preparedness. 

  • Savings bonds are a great gift for anyone and especially for young children.  They are tax exempt when used for post high school education. 

  • Cash for a rainy day. What will we do for cash, if the power is down, along with the internet connections to your local ATM? It takes discipline, but some well-hidden cash is an important part of preparedness planning. And of course, for college students, rolls of quarters are always appreciated. Likewise for students, a gift certificate to a local grocery store. 

  • Savings accounts. Why not set up individual savings accounts for grandchildren?  They will love going with you to the bank and it will make them feel very grown up and responsible.  Help them understand that the money is for college or a mission.  You can add to the account as they grow.  We have a piggy bank at our home and when our grandchildren visit and help with chores, we place money in the banks.  You could use their savings account in the same way. 

So, these are a few ideas for the gift of preparedness. With a measure of imagination and inspiration, anyone can make preparedness fun and personal. And in an emergency scenario, being prepared is so much more fun than the alternative!


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