In the past, I have released gift giving guides. This year, I wish to reflect on the best ways to give that I found this season. They are: Go local. Go fair. Go relationship building.
1. Give time. Many of my friends this year decided that we wanted to spend time with each other, versus spending time battling the malls to find some gift to give. It was such a great decision.
Two of my close friends and I got all decked up last Friday, ate a delicious meal with the skyline of NYC in front of us, and strolled the lovely decorated streets while snacking on German quark balls (think light donut holes). Then, we traveled back to one of our places to sit under the stars in a hot tub, with music and spirits flowing! Yes- what a Christmas gift! A memorable evening with friends beats any store bought gift.
2. Give fairly. In years past, I have tried to purchase only Fair Trade or gifts to benefit others, not just the recipient. This can be tough, especially when some on your list only want things from their list! However, I find that you can buy from their specifications and give something else. Plus, it can be a wonderful sharing moment. For example, my sister really likes when she receives a gift that she has asked for, but also enjoys when I pick out something that supports some else. We will spend time talking about the story behind it, the situation in that part of the country or the world, talk about our ideas for solving problems and more. Sharing in this way reminds us what the season is truly about.
3. Give locally. Even though I cut down on the number of gifts exchanged this year, I still had a few to purchase. For both my parents, we ended up working with local businesses, and what a great experience that was! For my mom, we purchased a painting her friend had done and then took it to be framed. For Dad, we converted some old home movies into DVDs. Both places were incredibly quick and happy for our patronage. Best of all, I interacted with people in my community, and felt more of a sense of belonging, as we chatted about local issues and why we were choosing these gifts. My neighbors helped make our Christmas brighter with these unique gifts.
Even though you may be done with your shopping for this season, you can keep these ideas in mind for the next time!