Before heading out for madness similar to the scenes of Black Friday, consider more mindful and meaningful options instead.
Present buying can turn into a total nightmare, when it really should be something to be enjoyed both by the person giving and the one receiving.
With Cyber Monday being the most popular online shopping day of the year, it might be time to rethink the whole purchasing frenzy that surrounds Christmas and delve into a gentler, more loving options instead.
One of the most difficult parts about gifting is, knowing how much to spend, what to buy and maybe even the should/shouldn’t we buy at all questions.
The nature of gifting seems to often get lost in consumerism. We feel that unless we are spending vast amounts of money on the latest trends, we are failing to get caught in the whole nature of Christmas. When really, we are getting caught in a trap. Gifting should not be about money at all, it should be about giving something lovingly that we know will be appreciated.
Too many times I have opened a present and been left with the after thought that the person has wasted their money. I am not ungrateful, I appreciate that the person thought about me and went to the effort of purchasing a gift, however, sometimes I feel that too much money was spent with little thought as to whether or not I would actually use or like the gift.
I’m sure we have all had that moment of opening a gift and then having to feign a false image of delight. If only we didn’t so often feel pressurised to just buy for the sake of buying, maybe we would all stop receiving that which we don’t really want or need. I wonder how many millions, even billions of dollars are wasted every year on things that just get put to the back of cupboards and will never surface again – until the trip to the waste disposal the following year.
I love the idea of personal gifts that send the message that the gift wasn’t a last minute thought or an impulse buy. Gifting for me is not so much about how much is spent or receiving the latest fad, it’s about giving something that I know will be appreciated and will, hopefully, be kept for years to come.
Some of the following ideas can help to create a more loving and genuinely thoughtful gifting experience.
1. Time: book tickets or arrange a date to spend time together doing something you both enjoy
2. Baking: home made cookies, cupcakes or a Christmas cake adding festive toppings to detail. Pumpkin bread is the perfect treat for Christmas morning.
3. Recipe cards: print on patterned card some of your favourite recipes that you know will be appreciated, cut with pinking shears around the edges and bind with ribbon or lace to finish.
4. A Favourite read: Not everyone likes to receive new gifts, I love it when a friend beautifully wraps and ties with ribbon one of their favourite books that has tattered edges and creased spines. Kindles are all well and good, however, for many there is nothing quite like the feel of a paperback.
5. Photographs: sadly, due to digital changes, printed photographs are becoming a thing of the past. Create a tasteful collage or scrap book of some of your favourite pictures and artfully turn it into something to display or kept as a keepsake for future reflection.
6. Food hamper: Purchase a pretty basket and fill with delicious Christmas treats. A sweet hamper always goes down well for children or jams, biscuits, crackers and wine for adults.
7. A book of vouchers: Whether it’s bedroom treats, days out or chores that you hate doing, a mixture of hand written vouchers, to be redeemed whenever suits, will always be gratefully received. Make the vouchers pretty by using coloured or decorated paper or card and again, binding with cute ribbon
8. Movie tickets: If you are both cinema goers, purchase 12 tickets in advance, one for each month, to treat them to a year of movies plus, quality time together
9. Magazine subscription: either online or one that delivers to their door, make sure it’s one that you know they have a keen interest in, not forgetting elephant journal does an awesome years subscription for only $13 a year!
10. 12 days till Christmas Gift Countdown: Build up the tension by giving a series of 12 small gifts in a gift box, one to be opened each day in the run up to Christmas
11. Games: Board games, card games, family games, Christmas is the one time that everyone enjoys sitting around, like the old times together, playing games and having some fun.
12. Art: using a blank piece of canvas, create something that you know will blend well in the persons home. There are plenty of youtube videos that will show even complete beginners how to begin. It doesn’t have to be particularly skilful often contrasting colours in no particular order can be just as eye catching as a masterful piece.
13. Hand painted mugs: purchase mugs that can be drawn or written straight onto so you can deliver your personal message from the heart, you can purchase these mugs online from various outlets.
14. Yoga class: Start their new year off with one month, or three month membership to a local class. Even those that have never considered Yoga as an option, will no doubt be amazed by the transformation in themselves after just the first few classes.
15. Donation to Charity: make a donation to a cause or an organisations, whatever charity is chosen, ensure it is one that is close to their heart. As an activist for animals, I would love nothing better than to not receive gifts and for my gifts to be given to creating a better future for vulnerable animals.
16. A Massage: This is one thing that not many people will treat themselves to, but everyone can appreciate a half or full body massage. Will come in perfectly handy after the stresses and strains of Christmas!
17. A new reusable shopping bag: opt for a stylish, foldaway, hardwearing fabric to ensure that it can be tucked away and pulled out whenever needed to save on plastics in shops and supermarkets.
18. Handmade jewellery: it is so easy to create eye-catching pieces. Choose beads and pendants that you know are colours that would be worn and make anything from earrings, necklaces to bracelets. Starter kits with everything you need can be purchased online at very reasonable prices. Or take apart beads that you no longer wear and redesign to make something new!
19. Pantomime, theatre tickets: add to the festive spirit by having an evening out to watch an old classic show together.
19. A journal: personalise it by adding a note in the front, detailing the reasons why you gave it and what the person’s frienship means to you.
20. A new hobby/interest: enrol you both onto a short course for something new you know that you both will enjoy, whether it’s cookery, crafts or educational, it can be a lot of fun and also bonding to learn something new together
21. Wrap gifts in newspaper: for an eco friendly twist, wrap in newspaper, beautifully tied with lace and ribbons. Or use plain paper and draw or use a stamp to print own design on to it for a more personal touch.
I personally don’t believe Christmas should be purchased from a store. For me, it is about time spent together with the ones I love. Sharing food, movies, playing games, talking, laughing and generally bonding together at a time where almost everything stops to make this a possibility.
Although it is heart-warming to give and receive gifts, the real value of Christmas is appreciating the ones we have around us and feeling blessed for all that we have, however big or little.
If your heart is in the right place whenever you give, it will be the token of your thought for someone else that will really count, not the value of what is spent.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Author: Alex Sandra Myles
Editor: Renee Picard
Photo: erika g at Flickr