Over the past few years, I have found myself teetering on the precipice of anti-consumerism. This feeling usually creeps up around mid to late september, when the first Christmas trees begin to appear next to the Halloween decorations in the local Big-Box stores. Don’t get me wrong, much of what I own was gifted to me, and a large percentage of that is highly sentimental. Those particular items came from friends and family (and sometimes anonymous strangers) who put a lot of heartfelt thought into what they were giving me. I try to do the same each year, but often run into stumbling blocks.
So this past few years, I’ve turned toward hand-crafted items, namely Poetry Chapbooks, Handpainted Picture Frames of my son, Crocheted items, Baked Goods, and Herbal concoctions (Teas, oils, bathsalts, etc). I’ve enjoyed giving these items as they are a peice of me that I am sharing with someone. Most of these items were made by yours truly, but sometimes a local artist or artisan stands out on my list. This year, I am attempting to balance my gifts between items made by myself and by others. Overall, it has been a fulfilling experience; as a new idea pops into my mind of what I can add that might brighten a person’s day.
This year, I encourage you to explore and expand upon the following list as gift ideas for your loved ones.
1) Presence, not presents. Give the gift of your time and attention to those you love. Talk, make something together, play music, play a game, volunteer together… anything that doesn’t require checking out, such as a movie.
2) Write a letter telling people how much you love them, and why. Most people have no idea what they mean to others, and often feel empty or a lack of closure when that person leaves their life. Say what you need to say to someone now.
3) Artsy Fartsy or just plain Crafty? Handmake small to medium items and throw them in a basket for others. (If you are a working artist or musician, consider gifting some of your proceeds to charity~ this year, I’ve raised $40 for my local homeless shelter through the sale of my poetry books).
4) Check out your local craft fairs and thrift stores.
5) Gift a donation to a charity in another person’s name.
6) It’s the thought that counts: Put some thought behind those gifts. If you must buy something, make it as meaningful as possible. Try to match it with that person’s unique personality and current situation. Last year, I got a pair of yummy fleece pajamas when I was on bed rest from an injury and needed some comforting. My grandmother gave me a beautiful lap blanket one year with butterflies (if you know me, you’ll understand) on it and a little poem about granddaughters that goes to sleep with me every night.
Be creative and thoughtful. Over the years, these things can become new family traditions. Sharing in a family project to make gifts for others or volunteering together to help others are exceptional ways to show how you care. Also, take care to make your gifts as green (reduce, reuse and recycle!) as possible, and show that person how much you care about not only them, but the planet they and their family live on.
But above all, share yourself through your gifts and Stay Blessed.