Holiday gift gifting can be stressful or it can be filled with peace, joy and mindfulness.
I was just thinking over the weekend, as Doug and I start packing up to move into our new home here in East Rock--oh my goodness, I’m up to my eyes in boxes and I haven’t even started my shopping yet. For a moment, I let the overwhelm creep in. Then I took out my pen and paper and made a little list of all the people who are important to me. Next to each name, I started to think about what they would appreciate and how I can show my appreciation for having them in my life.
In today’s post, I wanted to share a few pieces of advice for mindful gift-giving because I know how it feels to be down to crunch time and just start buying for the sake of buying. Below are some of my tips for staying calm and giving with intention:
Give a gift to yourself
Take care of yourself first, slow down, find time for your mental and physical health, and pay attention to your emotional well-being. You will notice that taking care of yourself will help you be kinder to the people around you, stay more present, and enjoy meaningful moments instead of missing them out. For example: I’m treating myself to a massage before I head back into the work week. I want to give my absolute BEST to every person I touch over the next few weeks and if I’m depleted physically, I can’t give back the way I want to.
Think about your recipient’s values
Think about what the recipient of your gift values. What are they really passionate about? What makes them smile? What lights them up? What is important to them? For example, if some you know is passionate about nature, plant a tree in their name. Or, if they are advocates for animal rescue, make a donation to a charity they love. A thoughtful gift is a meaningful gift. If the person or family you're shopping for is more eco-conscious keep your eyes peeled for brands with certifications that prove their planet and person centered values. Certifications like GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standard), Certclean, and Ecocert are all a great place to start.
If you know someone who's a wellness and beauty guru shop for clean products, check out my curated collection of gift guide here. =)
Give experiences rather than things
Why not buy friends + family an experience instead? Experiences like going to the movies, a concert, getting a massage or facial, or even a class they’ve always wanted to do. These experiences make great gifts too. A friend mentioned they were planning a trip to Disney instead of presents under the tree this year. While lovely, the experience doesn’t have to be extravagant to be memorable. I like the idea of a “book club” date with your best friend. Once a month, you commit to meeting for coffee or tea to discuss the book (can even be done virtually). You can present them with a gift card from a local bookshop in their neighborhood or a “classic book” that you write a note inside.
Give your time
Offering yourself up for service is a truly meaningful way to let someone know how much you care. After all, nothing is more valuable than your time. Think about what you can offer. What are you good at? Can you offer to make them dinner? Can you babysit the kids? Walk the dog? Teach them yoga? Use your skills to help. This year, I’m creating a day of self-care for my Mom who hasn’t been feeling her best lately. She wouldn’t ordinarily spend money on herself for self-care, so I’m treating her to one of my facials. I packaged my sentiment in this cute self-care card deck for a pretty presentation and something she can have as a keepsake.
Make it yourself
Who says gifts have to be store bought? I don’t know about you, but some of the most treasured gifts I’ve ever received have been handmade for me with love. So much love and care goes into a handmade gift, it’s a great way to show someone how much they mean to you. My husband Doug has a tradition of making “homemade soup” in a jar for his staff at work. He buys all of the dry ingredients, pours them into mason jars, prints the recipes and seals it with a piece of fabric. It’s so sweet.
Write it down
Sometimes kind words or a heartfelt note mean much more than a gift purchased just for the sake of it. Write them a note or card telling them why you love them, why you’re glad they’re in your life, or what they mean to you. Share your favorite memory of the two of you, or a funny story from your past. It doesn’t really matter what you share – just make it personal.
Lastly, I’m not opposed to luxurious store-bought items as long as they have meaning. Doug wakes up at 5am to make it to work on time and I because I’m not awake yet, he forgoes a cup of coffee which I know he wants and needs. So (hopefully he’s not reading this) this year, I’m giving him a NESPRESSO machine. He’s been talking about how much he’s wanted one since our trip to France in 2016. I’ll enjoy it too. ;-)
It’s not how much we give, but how much love we put into giving.”
- Mother Teresa -
Here are some more examples of experiences you can create:
Time spent volunteering. Either alone or with your kids, consider gifting to others in your community this year.
An online course or service of the receiver’s interest. Think about what sorts of online courses or programs your loved one might enjoy, such as virtual workshops. For business owners, check out Socially Savvy Studio. My friend Jess just launched “Socially Savvy School”. This would make a great gift for a young professional who just launched their business and needs to learn marketing + social media.
A house or garden plant. Offer some plant life to your friend’s home or garden either by purchasing a plant or taking a cutting from one of your own. If you haven’t been to Bark & Vine in New Haven-- you must go!
An item crafted in your local community. As many small businesses are struggling this year, consider what small businesses you can support in your local community. Check out my friend Georgia Milton, founder of Ruba Ruba for unique, chic + sustainably made fashion.
Something previously loved. Find a pre-loved item and offer it a second home. This could be from a second-hand shop or from your own bookshelf. For one of my super fashionable friends, I hunt at 2nd hand shops for designer “silk scarves” as I know she’ll cherish them. I always have good luck at Fantasia in Old Saybrook.
Most Important Tip: Presence of Presents
During this time of the year, our minds tend to focus on everything we have to finish before the year ends. If you are not present, the holiday season will pass so quickly you will feel like it was over before you could truly experience it.
Disconnect from social media and your work in order to connect. Give yourself and the people around you your full attention. Spend some quality time together with people you care about. Give them your time, energy, and mindful attention.
Ps. Copal will be CLOSED December 24th - January 1st while I give my full attention to my friends and family for some holiday cheers and enjoy some much needed rejuvenation after a long year.
Happy holidays to all!