It’s the season to exchange gifts. Consumerism has forced us into this annual cycle of buying things we don’t necessarily need for each other. It’s particularly frustrating when people end up with piles of things they don’t know what to do with. They end up either giving them away or having them take up space and collect dust in their homes. Most of us just go out and buy what’s on offer on the market, without giving it a thought on how we can be a bit more intentional and mindful with how we participate in consumer culture.
A few years ago I started reflecting on my habits of buying gifts, and set out to be a bit more thoughtful in how I choose to share the joy with my loved ones.
Gifting is a very sensitive topic. We want to show that we care, so we attribute a price tag to our caring. The more expensive the item, the more we care about them. I had to work hard to change this deeply engrained belief. I examined the gifts I personally received and tried to unpick how they made me feel. When I looked closely, I realised that it was the more thoughtful gifts that resonated the most, regardless of how expensive they were. Some of the most touching gifts I’ve received were the least expensive, like a poem, a personalised pillow, or just the gift of time with a dear friend.
What I learned is that the price tag really doesn’t matter, it’s more about the thought. So how can we become more intentional and thoughtful when we are gifting? Here are a few tips that can help along the way.
1. When in doubt, always go for consumables
A consumable has a specific shelf life and once it’s been used, it doesn’t clutter. It’s my favourite kind of gifting for the holidays because they get used up. If you can make them at home, even better, it adds a genuine touch and lots of love. When I moved in to a new place, my friends came over with groceries to stock up my empty fridge, it was the best gift ever. For the holidays, think hampers, bottles of wine, special olive oil, home-made biscuits, jams and pasta sauces, flowers, candles, soaps or tea.
I love gifting experiences, they take up the least physical space but deliver big feelings that last lifetimes. This can be a ride in a hot air balloon, a massage, tickets to a show or to the zoo.
Giving the gift of learning is a fantastic option. The variations are endless, from art classes to cooking, writing, photography, coding, etc. Whatever they may be interested in, there is a course for it.
I’ve once received a subscription to a magazine that I enjoyed reading, it was a lovely thoughtful gift that I still remember. Nowadays, subscriptions can come in digital form, which creates much less waste and clutter. Some ideas include Audiobook/Kindle subscriptions, music or TV streaming services (Spotify, Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc), and meditation apps (Calm, Headspace, etc). Another great idea is a flower subscription package that delivers fresh flowers weekly to their homes.
Items that are specially made by your own hands carry a special kind of meaning. My grandma made me some crochet slippers that I love; every time I wear them I remember her lovely hands and her warm heart. Handmade cards, handwritten notes, poems, crafty items are all winners in my books.
Whatever you end up choosing to gift this holiday season, it’s important to remember the impact on the environment. Always try to buy local, use less plastic, minimal packaging and try to use more recycled/up-cycled materials.
And remember, the most precious things are free; time, love and kindness.
This is my first Lifestyle post. For articles on how we can become better humans, see The Human Experience category.
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