Thursday, November 29, 2007

Consciously Gifting

I'm trying to be very conscious about how I give gifts for the holidays this year. I'm trying to minimize the obligatory gift-giving and, when I do give gifts, I'm trying to put a lot of thought and time into the selection. I'm also trying to make my holiday as "green" as possible. What tips and ideas can you offer? Here are my plans.

#1 - Limit the number of gifts I give. There are a handful of gifts I give out of habit - not because I really want to. I'm letting go of these in favor of offering my heartfelt well-wishes. I'm also letting GO of the associated guilt.

#2 - Give donations. I started this for b-day gifts last year and felt really good about it! I like to give to
Heifer International. Instead of giving my new niece a bunch of plastic toys, I'm giving a donation to her college fund.

#3 - Give experiences. I really like this one because it can fit any budget, inspires creativity and is what people want most from us - our time. Last year I gave the DH (dear hubby) gift certificates for a walk in the woods, a homemade treat, etc. He loved them!

#4 - Give homemade gifts that people will really like. For example, I made homemade blueberry jam this year and a few folks will be seeing it for Xmas.

#5 - When I do want to purchase something special (and I'm cutting back on this with the items above), I try to give from people I know or artists I can connect with. Examples:
-Chocolates from two local chocolate stores. I've met the owners and the money stays local.
-Handmade items direct from artists. Here are some of my favorite options:

#6 - Give TEA!

#7 - Buying absolutely no wrapping materials - zip, nada, nothing, zero, zilch! Recycling existing materials in creative ways to wrap fabulous presents. (I even have some wrapping I saved from pretty gifts last year!)

If you have any suggestions to offer, I'd love to hear them!


crescent said...

these sound good.

i like to give gifts like buying a gift certificate for a massage... it helps my massage therapists as it gives them a boost at the holidays, introduces them to new clients I hope will like them and vice versa, and it's a treat for the people i give the gift certificate to. not sure i'll be doing that this year... but i have in the past.

i also like to gift things i own that i want to pass along ...

and i make a point of giving away a lot of things to the goodwill, salvation army type places early enough that people who are shopping thrift stores for gifts have some good finds.

mostly i don't do a lot of gift giving at the holidays. i have shifted my emphasis in life...

i like the way you are operating and i hope it gives you and your friends and family a lot of joy.

i expect next year at this time to be able to gift an original book or two of my own to people in my life.... i'm working on that now!

i enjoy reading your blog. keep going.

AZ Tea Lover said...

Thanks for your continued inspiration to live a simpler, more thoughtful life.

Gifting strategies, some new to me:

A gift card to the local grocery store for my friends who have 3 growing youngsters. I'm sure it won't be enough.

Only usable or wearable items - no trinkets, collectibles, or dust collectors.

Consumables (eat, drink, and be merry, preferably together).

Cash never goes out of style and is always needed this time of year.

No more holiday cards - what friends and family really want is to hear how we're doing in a letter. Good cheer doesn't have to have a wreath on the front.

Esmerelda said...


Very nice. This year I too am giving tickets to shows here in Bloomington. This will encourage my family to come see me and see the show.

I also make a point of going to the Red Cross Book fair each fall. There I find books that are brand new (it amazes me that people never even open books they must be buying or maybe they are being given them.) and they cost me between $1-$4. Its a great book treasure hunt. I often buy brand new copies of books I love so I can give them as gifts.

I will also make a few gifts this year. Classy newspaper clutches that a friend we know makes.

Enjoyed the whole Blog MOnth. Gave me something to look forward to.


Steph said...

Thank you, thank you to your ideas! I have such wise readers!

Frivolitea said...

Hi Steph. I love your ideas. I must say that I am guilty of the consumerism of this holiday time, but I love your ideas and intentions. Maybe I need to meditate a bit to shift my gears. Hmmm. You have got me thinking. Thanks for an always great blog.

Kris said...

Readout. DH loves it "more than electric train, Lego and Meccano altogether!!!". We recently finished the Aubrey-Maturin saga (begun in January 2006) and he is eagerly waiting for his next vouchers(half hours of reading aloud)while searching which book(s)he would like to hear.
Not for everybody, I know.

Allison said...

We are also trying to scale down the gift giving part of the holidays to make them fun again instead of hectic!
For the gifts that we are giving, like you, I try to stay away from the mainstream consumption of "stuff".
I just bought these "Envirosax" for myself and think they would make a great gift. There are five reusable shopping bags (each holds 2x a plastic grocery sack) all rolled up into a handy dandy pouch that fits in your purse. Cool!

Allison said...

I think I actually should have given you a link to the Envirosax website instead of Amazon so you can see all of their products. They even have bags made of bamboo!

Cindy said...

Thank you for YOUR support Steph as I pursue my artistic endeavors.

I love your thoughts on consciously gifting & I agree. Frankly, I'd much rather get nothing than to get the obligatory gift. Last year I gave my neighbors a small gift because I truly value them. One neighbor literally said 'oh great' (sarcastically) when I gave them the gift & the next day they gave me some truly impersonal token gift in return. You can bet I won't make that mistake again this year & will simply give them a card so that I don't stress them out!

When I have the money, I try to think about what each person likes when buying a gift. Some people like activities/memories more than things. If I find that I don't know the person well enough to know what they like, I ask myself if gifting is appropriate.

When money is tight, I still use that same criteria but am more creative. Sometimes the best gift I've given (and received) is a meaningful visit or conversation with a friend where I've really listened & given my undivided attention. In this age of multitasking, that actually is becoming a more rare & valuable gift!