I gave up buying holiday gifts a few years ago. I was spending so much money and feeling very stressed out about the shopping and ensuring I didn’t leave anyone out, that I realized I was approaching the holidays all wrong. I tried to “out do” my gifts from the previous year or find the perfect “thing” to give a friend or family member. Sometimes I would buy something I knew the other person did not need or probably really want- just to have something to give.
We often teach our children that the holidays are all about presents: Christmas trees are erected to house piles of presents, Santa Claus or St. Nicholas are great because they leave gifts. Somewhere along the way, the spirit got lost.
But there are many ways to give and honor your loved ones during the holidays that don’t require you to break the bank. The holidays are a time to be with family and friends, to relax and to reflect on the year. Consider some of these alternative gift ideas to show what is really important around the holidays.
DIY: Make something they will appreciate- this shows thought and allows you to be creative. Here are some great ideas to get you started.
DIT: Do it Together. For kids (or adults), learn a new skill or do an activity together. Try rock climbing, take a cooking class or painting class together.
Here are some fun activities for kids.
Make a Donation: Think about what they care about most and identify an organization that supports that cause. Make a donation in their name and give them a thoughtful card that describes your meaningful gift.
Give an Experience: Instead of gift cards, give a card that tells them you will take them out to dinner, or to a movie, or to try out a new activity. Instead of giving them a gift card to spend and shop on their own, invite them to an experience you can share together.
Send Holiday Cards: When you include a thoughtful note and message (and not just a signature), the holiday card can be appreciated more deeply than a present.
Give Your Time: Volunteering together can be a great way to honor the holiday spirit. www.volunteermatch.org is a great place to look for volunteer opportunities in your area.
Cook or Bake a Holiday Dish: One of my favorite quotes is from Cesar Chavez:
“If you really want to make a friend, go to someone’s house and eat with him…the people who give you their food give you their heart.” Sharing a meal together can be a very meaningful experience, and eating food made with love always digests better. Try to give a healthy dish (sugar does necessarily mean love) to nourish your friends and family.
What’s your favorite way to honor the spirit of the holidays without focusing on “stuff?”