Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Gift Giving

Today's living simply theme tackles the topic of holiday gift giving. I've made it a hard-and-fast rule this year that I am only giving gifts that feel good to me. This means:
  • I'm not giving any "obligation" gifts. Yes, I will leave people off the list, even if that person gives something to me. (E.g., The co-committee chair who brings me cookies.) I will be a gracious recipient and I am letting go of the associated guilt. (This, for me, takes a lot of courage. It's easier to type than put into practice!)
  • I will ask friends and family to indulge me and reduce gifts to me. For example, my brother-in-law and sister and the DH and I have decided NOT to trade gifts. In addition, two friends and I have decided to make donations to a charitable organization in lieu of gifts. That warms my heart!
  • My niece is one. While I am tempted by several tea-themed gifts, I am resisting. I will give a contribution to her college fund instead. That will last a lifetime.
  • I'm not giving "throwaway" gifts. Each gift I give will be something that I have made or chosen with the recipient specifically and thoughtfully in mind. No generic gifts.
  • I'm not giving plastic crap. I am trying to get as much plastic as possible out of my life, so I won't give it to others.
  • Where possible, I will make gifts. This provides a creative outlet (gift) for me and is a one-of-a-kind for the recipient. This is where I will spend most of my time related to gifts!
  • When I purchase a gift, I will try to make that purchase from a local (non-chain) store or directly from the creator through sites like Etsy.
  • I will purchase absolutely no gift-wrapping materials. I will use what I have on hand and get creative! I've seen amazing gift wrapping made from stamps and junk mail!
  • Where possible, I will make donations to charitable causes. For example, each year we trade male/female gifts at my family's large Christmas Eve gathering. It's hard to make a personal gift when I don't know who will receive it. Instead, I plan to make a donation in my family's name and give that to my family member, along with some hand-made treat and/or tea.
  • I will set a reasonable budget and not go over it for gift-giving. This allows me to be even more creative!

As I read this, it seems a little scrooge-ish to me. But I'm OK with that! Our world has too much excess and waste, especially this time of year. (Think of the mountain of wrapping paper thrown away on Christmas morning!) I want to minimize my contribution to this craziness.

What wisdom can you share on this topic?


Anonymous said...

My suggestions:

Don't wait until the holidays to give gifts. Send them throughout the year to those you care about. They will remember your generosity at the holidays. Giving should be an ongoing activity rather than one spared for just part of a season.

Handmade gifts are treasured most because they express the care and time you invested for the person.

Recycle - if you are buying a gift, think of shopping at the thrift store that benefits a local charity or the used book store. Lots of recycled treasures abound.

One caring, thoughtful gift means a lot more than a bunch of so-so gifts. It's about quality, not volume.

Give the gift of your time. Donate your time to a friend's cause, or go visit someone. That's a huge gift in today's busy world.

Cash is always perfect if you can't think of something to provide. It always fits and is never thrown away.

Rosemary said...

There is nothing 'scrooge-ish' about your list for Holiday Gift Giving - it is all very down-to-earth and practical... and we could all learn from it. I hope you share the stamp and junk mail wrapping idea sometime - that sounds interesting!

Steph said...

Dear AZ Tea Lover: You are so very generous with your gifts throughout the year, and you are right! I have fond memories of them all - and the ones that come at surprise times are always cheering b/c they are unexpected!

Thanks, Nancy, for the encouragement! I will write about the stamp and junk mail!

Amy said...

I save my 10 year-old's artwork from school and frame it and give it to grandparents and aunts and uncles. These are perfect gifts for them and my son loves seeing his artwork all over his grandmother's house.


Michelle said...

I have recently been feeling the same about the holidays. There is just too much emphasis on "stuff" in our culture.

I'm striving to give meaningful gifts this year as well! I really like your idea of a charitable donation for the family exchange. That's great!

BTW, I LOVE etsy. Its my favorite website. I'm just now learning to sew, but my goal is to open a shop on etsy in 2009!


Steph said...

Amy - that's an awesome idea! Michelle - you go! Let me know when the shop opens! I'm just learning to sew, too.

Teresa's New Life said...

Great ideas. When our girls were younger we had a tradition of going through all of their toys and clothing and making donations to various charities before they were allowed to get any thing else for themselves. They also partcipated in Operation Shoe Box at our church (for those not familiar- it is shoe boxes filled with toys, candies,games and other things for under privilaged children in 3rd world countries.) Anyway, they always enjoyed this way of giving as much as we adults did.
Keep up the great example for your family!

Marilyn Miller said...

I love your list. I had been thinking about the wrapping paper, as I was tempted to buy yesterday. I decided I must use whatever I have in the house. I also informed my sister that the gift would be a smaller gift. And donating in a family members name to a charity is always something I like to do. Thanks for the reminders.

Philigry said...

yes, i love this idea! we always make handmade, or give recycled gifts. This year we are scaling way, way back. I am making jam for lots of people, and my sisters and I decided not to get gifts for eachother.
One of my sisters alway wraps her gifts in fabric. This way there is nothing to throw out!

Michele said...

Steph, I would love to see pics of what you come up with for creative gift wrapping - that is a wonderful idea! I always carefully recycle used gift wrapping paper, but still, I'd rather never buy any ever again!

Lady Katherine said...

Wow! you have it together for Christmas! I wish I were so bold. I have cut back and love to give handmade things.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful ideas, Stephanie. If one does need to buy a little paper for wrapping, I recommend the greenroom eco line that is available at Target.

mep said...

Great post, Steph. I like your emphasis on being creative and thoughtful!

Allison said...

I went to a "green" baby shower last weekend. We had vegan food and gave the lucky mama organic, green gifts. I wrapped my gift in organic baby blankets.
The same friend that threw this shower gave me a Christmas gift wrapped in a re-usable shopping bag last year. So smart!

MikKnits said...

I love your ideas! I have already started making some of my gifts for the year: scarves, beanies, edible goodies, etc. Since I also love to sew, I will be giving reusable shopping bags and other reusable gifts as well. My husband is making gifts for our friends as he is a woodworker. My youngest son will be going through his toys, while on break, to donate to charity. My older son still has to deicide what his gifts will be. I love to see how creative everyone is while still being practical!

Anonymous said...

One of my favorite posts that you've made. A practical and sustainable stance. I like it when people take a moment to mount the soap-box from time to time. (I definitely recommended this post on my own blog.)