Meaningful Gift Giving

Steph and I have been chatting about thoughtful Christmas gift giving and receiving. We both spend a lot of time thinking about what we are going to gift someone. It often involves making something or thrifting or researching the most sustainable option available to purchase.  The receiving part of Christmas can be a different story. Please, don’t misunderstand. I am so thankful for the gifts I receive. Gift giving is a way of showing thoughtfulness, love and affection, but unfortunately it has become an over indulgent obligation with little or no meaning.

At this time of year, I flash back to my years in retail. Specifically, the few days before Christmas when shoppers would come in looking for anything and everything to put under the tree. I saw customers knowingly buy things they knew would get returned. People bought gifts that they knew were the wrong size, gifts that cost more than the giver could afford, and gifts that meant nothing to the giver or receiver. Consumerism and marketing have killed the beauty of gift giving, but Steph and I are not losing hope.

We have taken the time to explain to our family and friends why we believe in slow and thoughtful living. They know we are intentional about what we bring into our homes, and understand why we support local and handmade. As a result, most of my family ask for a wish list. Some people believe buying an item from someone’s wish list isn’t really gift giving, but that all depends on what’s on the wish list. 

Steph and I both agree that the biggest and bestest gift you can give is your time. Think about a gift that includes time together. My list includes experiences, theatre tickets, museum trips, date nights, tea parties, and coffee dates. Other ideas that don’t cost a thing: start a book club for that friend who always wanted to be part of one or teach your niece how to knit or sew. Get creative. Print or handwrite a coupon or invitation. Are you feeling the love?

Typically my list also include books, consumables, and necessities. Books are wonderful because they are wonderful and can be read and shared. I asked for my favorite chocolates and nuts; things I don’t normally buy. Consumables also include handmade soaps, candles, and gourmet foods. In our house, necessities are things like socks, underwear, hats or gloves. Last November, my mom’s 30 year old iron stopped working (irons are necessities for quilters). I did a bunch of research and bought her a snazzy iron designed for quilting. It was her only gift, but she still talks about how much she loves it. 

There are some people who are offended by a gift list and others who are unbelievably grateful you gave them one. You can’t please all the people all the time. If you think you suck at gift giving, then take an extraordinary gift giver out for tea and take notes. They key here is to give yourself enough time so you enjoy the process.

We hope this and every gift giving season will be one of thoughtfulness, gratitude, and love.