Earlier this week, I came across a beautiful post written by one of my friend’s mom, who basically said that she didn’t want anything from her children for Christmas. By nothing, I mean no actual presents. She said it was more than a gift to have her children come home, raid her fridge, share about what they were up to, etc. I wish more parents would jump on this bandwagon…I know mine do. For Christmas, even birthdays, my parents are more than understanding that my sister and I are still in school, and at this point in their lives, there really isn’t anything they can’t get themselves. My sister and I still usually try to find unique or unusual things they wouldn’t get-like for my mom, I got her a book signed by one of her favorite authors; for my dad, I got him a piece of historic memorabilia that he likes watching movies about. For us, it’s less about the gift and more about the thought behind the gift/card/experience/etc.
For my boyfriend’s family (and many other families I know), there’s this huge pressure to get “THE gift.” Not only does it cause unnecessary stress, but at the end of the day a $20 giftcard to Target in exchange for a $20 giftcard to Amazon would be better off not exchanged. Really. People, keep your money and spend time with one another! If you’re still hell-bent on getting a gift for someone who really doesn’t need one but you feel obligated to do so, here are my top five ways to get through the holidays without hurting the feelings of your fragile snowflake-like friends/family/etc.
1. STUFF: Consider what things the person likes/lacks/or has interest in acquiring. Did they just move and could use a new set of dishes/towels/etc? Is he/she that one friend that can never have too many candles and gets excited over a new one like it’s their first one? Is there a specialty store that he/she frequents that a giftcard wouldn’t be too impersonal it’s insulting, but not too specific that they already have everything in the store?
2. CHARITY: The first time I received a “charity” gift, I was a little taken aback that the tiny envelope didn’t contain a giftcard…instead, it was a “Congratulations, a family of baby chicks have been donated to a family in your name so that they can have eggs for many years, both as a dietary staple and source of income to sell if there is any surplus product.” This is a great option for the person who already has enough “stuff,” and a bonus if he/she has a favorite charity or cause that’s important to him/her.
3. ADVENTURE: Who doesn’t love an adventure? There are all kinds of varieties that could be used in this category, from wine/paint nights, to cooking lessons, hot air balloon rides, indoor or outdoor skydiving, or even a diy version of this where you cultivate an activity (or several) that the person enjoys and create an itinerary out of it. A more expensive version of this would be putting together a trip, but for those of us on a budget/if it’s not your significant other or close friend, splurging on a whole trip might be a little much in the time and finances departments.
4. HANDMADE: When in doubt, paint it out! Whenever I’m asked what I want for a birthday or special occasion, I always say make me something. Now, this is 99% never followed, but at least I tried. My boyfriend and sister are really the only artsy people I know, so I’ve been lucky enough to acquire some super personalized gifts throughout the years that were made with me in mind. If you’re not super crafty, there’s Pinterest and Google for all kinds of crafts. There are also blogs galore with so many creative things that are pretty straight-forward and kind of hard to screw up. An example of this I did a few years back was taking a deck of cards and decorating them with reasons why I loved my boyfriend for one of our anniversaries. He told me the other day that he still flips through them when he’s having a rough day and it’s an instant boost of cheer.
5. TIME: Ok, so we’ve exhausted the list of stuff…and to me, this is one of the best, least expensive options when it comes to gifts. We all live in an age where digital devices are ever-glued to our eyes/ears/hands, and no one ever seems to be that present. I’ve done time gifts a few times, sometimes pairing them with a coffee or lunch, or even just a walk to a beach or serene place, and the recipient of the gift has always, always loved it. You can write your intentions in a card to make it more “gift-like,” but I think it’s so important to take a step back from the “stuff” of the holidays and really zero-in on why it’s such a valuable opportunity to hang out with those grandparents who won’t be around forever (really, everyone is susceptible to mortality, so this is a non-grandparent exclusive gift option). This is also an awesome gift to give someone you don’t really spend a lot of one-on-one time with. I know for me, my parents are constantly running around in their own lives, so I usually have to pencil in doing errands with them, or something of the like just to be with them.
*6. VOLUNTEER: This is a bonus one that I wasn’t really sure where to put, but if you don’t want to give something per se and would rather give back, I think it’s really fun to do a beach cleanup, charity walk, food bank visit, etc. with friends and family. It’s so rewarding to actually put your two hands to work and help others who aren’t as fortunate and maybe just need a helping hand, especially around the holidays. From soup kitchens and singing carols at hospitals, to offering to help an elderly neighbor out with driving or grocery shopping, there are a ton of options for giving back both locally in one’s community and around the world. You can always donate money (and that’s great if that’s your thing), but sometimes it’s also nice to get in the same space as the people you’re helping and really give back. One of my favorite ones is putting flags on veteran memorials for big holidays like Memorial Day and Christmas…kind of a nice way to say thank you for your service, your impact still carries on today.
So that’s my list of five plus ways to combat holiday gift struggles. Whether you celebrate with a menorah, a christmas tree, or something totally different or not at all (but still give and receive gifts around this time of year), I hope you find this list helpful. I’ve got makeup and book reviews in the pipes, so look out for those in the coming weeks.
Even if you don’t celebrate with gifts for the holidays but want ideas for other gift-giving occasions, this could totally be a useful quick set of options to peruse.
So back to cleaning what seems to be a never-disappearing pile of laundry on all flat surfaces of my room.
Spoonie Adventures in Books, Beauty, & Bullshit
I'm a twenty-something year old recent law and business school grad living with a chronic health condition. Follow along on my shenanigans.