It’s that time of year again…Christmas is looming and the annual gift giving frenzy is on the cusp of making us all crazy. You can hear the factories in China gearing up to spew out container loads of useless, plastic materials that will lie broken and discarded within hours, days or weeks after the event.
Time to step back and rethink the whole deal.
You don’t have to make your own gifts (although people DO appreciate the thought when you do), but you can be just as thoughtful in gifting things that will help others in your community without sending money and jobs overseas and filling the landfills with unnecessary rubbish.
Women control about 65% of all household spend, so it’s time to really exercise that financial clout and support the things you believe in at the same time.
1) Gift something from your home. Home-made gifts are always special. Gift a plant that will remind the receiver of you everytime they look at it. It is a living, growing thing that will assist in the planet’s air quality.
2) Make jams, or candles, or sewed items (table runner and napkins) that can be used on the special day. It’s such a thoughtful thing to bring to the table.
3) Ask people what they need. I never buy my grandchildren toys. They don’t need toys. But the family often needs new towels or quality sheets and bedding that they just can’t afford. Buy good quality and they will be able to use them for years.
4) If you really want to give the kids toys, try things like home-made playdoh in a raft of colours, miniature tools so they can make things, bug catchers so they can examine the natural world. Kids are curious. Most of the toys they are given are boring and discarded in a short time. Give a gift that will keep on giving. One thing they never get enough of is your undivided time and attention. Book them in for a serious play date!
5) Buy local services. Most of the people you will know will describe themselves as time poor, rushing from place to place to get their daily tasks done. Buy them some time. A cleaning service for a few hours, a manicure or pedicure, a massage, a car service, a car wash or detail, gardening, laundry, whatever. These things will be hugely appreciated and will keep the money (and jobs) in the local community. Everybody can use some sort of service and the gifts are easy to wrap!
6) Gift food. A basketful of fresh items from the local market, a baked dish, a special dessert for later. A group I was part of once pulled together and bought the makings of a really nice Christmas dinner for a family we knew were struggling financially. We just put it on their doorstep and left. They really appreciated it. No words were exchanged, so no one was embarrassed.
A bit of thought about what people need or what you have to give, rather than just buying the items that are advertised to us makes the giving and receiving much more meaningful. Think hard about the people in your life and let them know what you would like in return. No extravaganzas…just thoughtful gifts to ease our way into the new year.