It’s now the season where people run to their nearest malls – to empty their savings – all in an attempt to make other people happy. Giving is fantastic, but there is a better way to do it than just racking up debt. Below are a few ideas that redefine what it means to give a gift.
In fact, you would think that the tough economic times we are in would curb some gratuitous spending, but the mall next to my home is still swarming this weekend. I wonder how many of the gifts that people receive over the holidays are actually used?
When I downsized earlier this year I was guilty of giving away many things that someone surely spent good time and good money to purchase for me. I am not alone in this.
So what to do? I think this holiday season we have an opportunity to rethink what it means to give. It doesn’t have to be all about clothes, games, electronics, gifts cards or cash. Here are just three simple ideas for unique gifts that express your own originality and have a meaning beyond the price tag.
1. Share an idea – gift your books to others
I love books, reading close to 100 every year – either through print or audio-book. You can imagine that such a reading habit would built up quite a library. That’s why one of my favorite things to do it to give away my favorite books to other people that I think would resonate with the ideas of the author.
I was just talking with a friend at a party yesterday. I mentioned this concept of giving away books and she thought it would be so tough, since she loves her book so much. Think about it this way, by giving away a book – you are sharing the ideas of the author with other people, and once they read the book your conversations with that person will be that much richer. It’s also free 🙂 . Don’t forget, if you ever want to re-read the book, you can just borrow it back!
My hope is also that is the reader enjoys the author, that they will support them by buying future books, telling their friends about them. I’ve found this to be true in practice.
When giving books, I don’t worry about the book being in pristine condition. However, I do include a little note on the inside cover of the book stating how the book has impacted my life, and wishing that it brings similar joy to the recipient. I also urge the reader to pass it on when they are done.
2. Be creative – gift a masterpiece
We used to doodle all the times as kids. As adults, most of us have lost this habit, along with the habit of actually writing anything by hand. A few months ago, for my birthday, I received only 1 handwritten card in mail, it totally blew me away. All my other birthday wishes came through phone calls, e-mails, Facebook wall posts, text messages and the like.The fact that someone actually took the time to write a thoughtful note on a card and send it really meant a lot.
As a kid, I remember making the silliest drawings and notes, that my parents would post up on the fridge with pride. Instead of going out and buying a gift card, that not only costs you money but also has little sentimental value, try writing a thoughtful note on a nice piece of paper. Try decorating it any way you see fit, with dried/pressed flowers, doodles or images cut from cartoons and magazines. If you got such a thoughtful gift, what would you do with it? Would it at least bring a smile to your face for the day? If so, it’s one of the best gifts you can give.
3. Be a contributor – support those in need
At a time when so many beings are suffering in this world, giving a gift that directly helps others – on behalf of someone you care about – is incredibly touching and makes a significant difference in the world. There are many ways you can give in this way and I urge you to do a little research online – or just contact a charity that you currently support – and see how you can provide a “gift donation” on someone’s behalf.
If you don’t currently have a charity that you support, you can try contacting your regional chapter of the United Way. Another great approach is to sponsor a child through World Vision. You can support the needs of a child for only $35 per month, or you can specify any amount that fits within your budget. World Vision also allows you to provide other goods and services to needy people – farming tools, wells, educational supplies…with a wide ranges of contribution amounts that can match any budget. Check it out!
Hopefully these three ideas have given you something to think about in the midst of your holiday shopping. I urge you to take a moment and re-think your approach for gift giving. Think about how you make each and every gift you give truly authentic. It is not about the cost, it is the meaning behind the gift that matters.
If you have other original holiday gift ideas, I’d love to hear them. Please add any ideas to the comments of this post. By the way, this post was partly inspired by Tina Su’s great post over at Think Simple Now highlighting some super creative gift ideas for the holiday. Check out her blog for more inspiring content.