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Gift Giving Outside of the Box

Well, friends. It’s that time of year again. And while we’re all for twinkling lights, hot beverages, and gathering with loved ones - the holiday season can be tough for those of us looking to live more low-waste.

I think it’s safe to say that most of us grew up with the notion that this season was made most meaningful by giving people stuff - and lots of it. The more you got, the “better” you were - or at least that was the message I took away.

As I’ve grown older and, even more so, as I’ve become aware of the issues around this stuff - how it’s made, where it goes when we’re done with it, etc - it’s importance and my desire for it has lessened. I’m at an age where I don’t want any more stuff. If I do, I really want to get it for myself because I’m admittedly very particular about what I like and don’t like.

Not to mention, gifting can get expensive. And at a time when most of us are tightening our budgets, this season can lead lots of folks into debt because of the pressure they feel to participate in this season as it was told to us it should be.

So, how do we move forward in a way that’s more mindful, less environmentally harmful and still filled with lots and lots of love and joy?

Here are some thoughts to mull over:

Ask More Questions

This is a pretty good motto to follow any time of year but we find it particularly useful when it comes to gift giving. Forget mind-reading - try just asking the folks in your life what they actually want. And let’s be vocal to others about what it is we really want! So that we don’t get that knee-jerk reaction of “Oh, nothing. You don’t have to get me anything!” let’s try framing the question this way, “Hey friend. This time of year when we’re all thinking about what to get each other, what’s on your wishlist that is outside of the status quo? I’m working towards a lower-waste holiday season and I would love to get you something that you truly need. What do you really want, but think no one will gift you?” I think this is a good starting point.

Think Outside the Box

Gifts don’t have to come in packages. The gift of time, the gift of an experience - these things can be so much more memorable than stuff. 

I love going to do things with loved ones. Is there an experience someone you know has been wanting? A workshop they’ve wanted to go to? A restaurant they’ve wanted to try? A craft they’re too intimidated to start up? Get a gift card, find the supplies, make a date of it and go do that thing. Or, ask how you can help free up some time for them so they can go and enjoy that experience. 

Get Crafty, Save Money

Making small meaningful gifts can be rewarding in multiple ways! It gives the maker an opportunity to get creative - I love to make this a family activity. It can save you heaps of money while still being incredibly thoughtful and it can take you less than several hours to do!

Here are just a few homemade things you can make that take very little time, skill or money:

  • Homemade beeswax candles 
  • Simmer pot sachets 
  • Lotion bars
  • Salt dough ornaments 
  • Trail mix in mason jars 
  • Homemade treats like cookies, brownies, caramel, etc.


Re-gifting is the New Gifting

Now could be a perfect time to pre-Spring clean. Have a look around your space and maybe you’ll find something that is perfect for someone you know. Maybe something your friend comments on everytime they come over - if you feel OK passing it on, now could be a perfect time to!

Additionally, go to any thrift store this time of year and they’re chock full of holiday stuff! You’ll likely find something there - even if it’s just materials for a DIY project.

If You Shop, Shop Small

Most of us know by now that this time of year can be critical for smaller businesses. Additionally, shopping small is an investment in your community - an investment in what it will look like next year, and the year after, and so on…

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, when you spend $100 at a small business, $48 stays in the community. Spend the same $100 at a big-box store or national retailer and only $14 stays. Why? Because local businesses rely on other local businesses.

Regardless of how you choose to approach this season, my wish for you is that you’re able to get absolute clarity about what’s important to you and yours. May you move through the rest of this season with that top of mind.

And if you’re going any of the routes mentioned above, we’d love to hear from you! What are you making? How are you thinking outside of the box this season? What are your favorite small businesses to support? 

Ask For What You Need

If you’re like me, you’re in a season of your life where the thought of receiving any more stuff is daunting. And yet, a lot of us have loved ones whose love language is gift-giving and this can make it hard for them to understand that when it comes to gifting to us, that more stuff is just not what we’re wanting. It’s worth a meaningful conversation with folks to let them know this. And perhaps, it’ll get them thinking about what they really want, and need, moving forward.

As always, we love and appreciate you. Thank you for being here. 

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