As a nation, we seem to have taken an ugly turn when it comes to our relationship with giving gifts this time of year. What once was a season of sharing love, cookies and carols has morphed into one where the gifts take precedence and the search for said gifts leaves people disgruntled, pushy and down right rude. The holidays certainly aren't what they used to be, but the shift to simpler times isn't completely forgotten. With the resurgence of local businesses and #GivingTuesday, there are more ways to get back into the actual spirit of this gift-giving season. And in this list you will find five ways to flip the script on how to give so that perhaps instead of worrying about what to give we can take a breath and actually enjoy this time of year.
1. Shop local.
There is a big difference in purchasing gifts from a corporate store where the sales people barely know the products they are selling and buying gifts from someone who made them by hand with their love and passion. Connecting with the people you purchase from changes the game. It builds a relationship with another person and just feels good.
2. Only give the gifts you want to give.
There seems to be so much pressure around giving gifts -- what it means when you do and even more what it means when you don't. Consider this for a moment: Why are you giving the gifts you are giving? Is it because you care? It is because you know the person will love it? Does it fill you with joy to give these gifts? If the answer is no then you are wasting your time. If you are giving out of obligation you may be infusing stress or even resentment into the exchange. The reason needs to be pure. It needs to make you as happy as the other person. This is the real gift.
Be mindful of the kids.
When I was 17, I dressed up as a very skinny Santa Claus and helped deliver gifts that our school collected so children could have presents for Christmas. It's sad when children don't have presents for the holidays, but it's way more sad when they don't have food or proper education. Somewhere along the way we subscribed to the notion that children need to have dozens of presents to open on Christmas morning. This becomes a huge point of stress as parents often max out their credit cards and work double time to buy a bunch of stuff their kids may not even play with. And when parents are stressed, children feel the effects. While I'm not saying to forgo all presents I am saying that there are other ways to engage children on the holidays. Sometimes a child just wants to spend time with their family and do something fun. And in reference to the children that are greedily counting their presents and complaining about not getting more, then we must realize that this is a learned behavior.
4. Don't let money get you down.
One of the biggest stressors of the holiday season is money or more specifically, not having enough to purchase the presents we think we should. In the U.S. we live in a country that is obsessed with stuff -- both giving and receiving it. While there is nothing wrong with having nice things, there comes a point when the getting of these things can turn people into big angry balls of stress. If you don't have a lot of money this holiday season know that there is more than one way to approach the holidays and buying gifts is just one. One year I wrote personal poems that brought my loved ones to tears. Another year I created mix CDs (okay this was a while back) with songs that reminded me of that person. Get crafty. It means so much more.
5. Give experiences.
When my partner and I first started dating 4.5 years ago, instead of buying things we took each other on a little day trip. We experienced something together and had a whole lot of fun in the process. When you give an experience this gives you the chance to connect with the person you have chosen to gift. This is something we so desperately need more of in this world -- connection. So anything that fosters this connection between you and another is a beautiful way to give.
Meditation is a great way to keep you connected this time of year. Check out these FREE guided meditations to help you thrive during the holidays. Consider it my gift to you. Get them by clicking here.