Tis the season, and I’ll be devoting this week’s column to last-minute gift ideas for the gardener in your life.

I take my inspiration from the gift-trading game played at the Owosso Garden Club’s annual Christmas party.

In advance of the gathering, garden club members decorate our meeting place with a fabulous fresh cut tree from Nash Nurseries, which we adorn with dozens of handmade angels. Ribbons and fresh cut evergreens accent the rest of the room. The party starts with the expected socializing and eating, followed by an entertaining gift exchange. We draw numbers and open gifts in turn, with the choice of opening a new package from under the tree or taking another person’s opened gift, until everyone finally has (and keeps!) a prize. An hour or so of observing this behavior gives some great insight into favored gifts for the gardener.

Tools are both practical and appreciated. This year’s exchange included a sturdy hand cultivator fork, perfect for preparing the soil for planting, paired with a bag of wildflower seed. Most garden centers and hardware stores carry some pruners and gloves year-round, so these make good last-minute gifts. Of course, larger tools are also appreciated by the serious gardener, such as a sturdy shovel, electric hedge trimmers or a chain saw. I really like my lightweight battery-powered weed-whip that I can easily start and handle.

Birds add a lively dimension to the garden, and related items are always popular gifts at our party. This year saw seed-infused suet cakes for winter-feeding birds, and nectar feeders to attract hummingbirds and orioles—during the growing season, of course. Bird baths and houses are also decorative garden features that broaden the variety and activities of visiting birds, and bring these delightful creatures closer for us to observe and enjoy.

This year a large butterfly house caught everyone’s attention and was passed around the room repeatedly until the original recipient had it for the third time, and it was retired from the exchange.

Garden art is always a popular item with our group, and this year was no exception.

Several styles of decorative garden stakes were gifted, including several with flower-shaped pinwheel spinners. Most coveted was a tall model in a cut metal design with a bird silhouette perched on top, carefully assembled by the person who first selected the package under the tree. It was snatched away as he finished and was in the hands of a half-dozen gardeners before it finally secured a home.

A sturdy yellow watering can made the rounds—I held it myself, briefly—though another in a whimsical mouse design was even more traded. A hammered metal pig with a springy tail also traveled the room before the prize was finally secured.

We saw a wide assortment other useful and fun items, including a large glass candle lantern, garden-themed note cards, gloves, insect and weed treatments, bug repellents and salves. Decorative containers, garden signs, windchimes, and the ever-popular garden statues, which included an angel, a terra cotta pig, and a sassy chicken (or was it an eagle?).

A quick, easy last-minute idea is a gift card for the greenhouse, garden center or other favorite haunt of the gardener on your Christmas list. Some businesses even discount the cards around the holiday. And if you’ve run out of time, energy, and shopping days, consider creating a custom gift card on the computer or with old-fashioned pen and paper. Offer help with spring cleanup, heavy tasks or offer to sponsor a spring shopping trip.

Relax, and have a very merry Christmas.

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