On the First Day of Prepping, my Prepper gave to me ... a sapling apple tree.
Most people who know me, know that I'm interested in self-sufficiency. They also know that I garden. What they may not realize, however, is that, while I do have a wild and crazy jungle of annuals every summer, I've been working more toward a sustainable landscape. That is, perennials are a bigger focus of my energy and pocketbook than annuals (except garlic, and I love garlic, but really, if one does things in the right way, collecting the heads and replanting a few each fall, it's sort of a perennial :). I like lettuce and tomatoes and broccoli, but I value more the long-term investment of my fruit and nut trees, the herbs and berries, and the root crops, like Jerusalem Artichokes, that I've planted, because even if, for some reason, I'm unable to tend my garden, these things will give my family food.
At the moment, we have two sapling apple trees, two dozen or so edible herbs, three (struggling) hazelnut bushes, a jungle of raspberry brambles, a couple of blueberry bushes, and a huge patch of ridiculously overgrown Jerusalem artichoke. If all of these plants hit full production mode and combined with the wild-growing pot herbs (a.k.a. weeds) on our property (like dandelion and lamb's quarters), we could have enough food to sustain us ... on just our quarter acre.
Of course, not everyone on your list will be like me (at least one can hope, right?) with the goal of a sustainable suburban garden. In that case, an apple tree (or other flowering fruit/nut tree) is still a good gift option, because, as mentioned, apple trees flower, and the flowers are just lovely. Around here, apple trees are used as ornamental plants. Most of the ornamental apple trees are those crabapple hybrids with teeny little apples (which might be useful for making vinegar ... or jelly ... but not much else :), but there are some newer subdivisions that sport full-sized apple varieties. In fact, one of our apple foraging forays took place in a new subdivision, where the apple trees were planted, because they're pretty, and because the suburb is "apple themed" with road names like "Granny Smith Court" :).
One other argument against this gift idea might be that the recipient doesn't have yard space for an apple tree or that he/she is a renter. Not to worry, because apple trees, like many other plants, can be grown in a container.
Storing food is an absolute must for any prepper. What better way to store food than in the form of a plant that will keep on giving, perhaps even after the original recipient is no longer around for the harvest? It might be tough to convince our non-prepper family members and friends to store up cases of applesauce, and buying them all of that applesauce might not be an appeciated gesture, but in giving them an apple tree, we have, essentially, given them a potential emergency food supply.
And don't let the idea of cost deter you. It's true that some nurseries charge exhorbitant prices for their trees, but an Arbor Day Foundation fruit tree is not only affordable, it is also a two-part gift - first it's tree for the person getting the gift, and second it's a charitable donation to an organization that's trying to do good work.
This holiday season, consider skipping the mall and giving something that has a longer life than even the most robust, rechargeable battery ;).