Conscious Gift-giving

Gift-giving has been so hijacked by consumer culture that “those times of the year” are synonymous with stressful shopping, expense, clutter, and unjustifiable waste of single-use wrapping, not to mention the heavy cost to the planet of producing pointless stuff just for those occasions. We need to take back the tradition of gift-giving, and gift more consciously, without footprint.

Next time you need a gift for someone, why not give them:

Something they need.

Surprises are nice, but overrated, and actually self-centered. Surprises are for the giver’s enjoyment, more than the receiver’s: you’re making the gift about you, and potentially burdening them with an item they don’t want (and obviously can’t dispose of, being a gift). When someone really needs to buy something, the most thoughtful gift is to get it for them, especially if their budget is tight.

Something that will be enjoyed yet leave no traces.

  • A massage or other pampering treatment. It’s a real treat that never gets old, and most people will not book one for themselves outside medical reasons.
  • A lesson or workshop in something they’re interested in. Wherever you live, there is likely to be some sort of taster or short class on something: cooking, ceramics, dance, jewellery making, beekeeping, horticulture… You never know what comes out of it!
  • A tasting session for something they fancy. Wine, chocolate, cheese, beer… Here again there can be a wide range of options, including unusual ones.
  • Edible gifts. Preferably made by yourself (you can do it!) or some food artisan who’ll have made it with love. We’ll add a few simple recipes for edible gifts in the future, but in the meanwhile, have a search on Pinterest, it’ll keep you busy for days.
  • An experience. This can be all sorts of unusual things, depending on what’s happening where you are, but you can also create the experience yourself. One example : For a dog lover who can’t have one – borrow a dog for a day, or sign them up to Borrow my Doggy!
  • Donate in their name to a cause they care deeply about.
  • Plant a tree or sponsor an endangered animal on their behalf.

Something you made.

  • You don’t have to be a maker to create something for someone. You just need to know the person well and think of what would be special for them. Here’s an idea that takes no manual skills: On 52 pieces of paper, write down 52 moments you remember with that person (funny, moving, awkward…), fold them and place them in a pretty jar. They’ll have a memory a week to savor for a whole year.
  • If you do want to craft something yourself, there are tons of tutorials out there and you are sure to find one that suits you. Again, Pinterest will drown you in ideas.

Something handmade by an independent creator.

There is a special quality to a handmade object, that makes it worth keeping and passing on. This is because artists and makers are fueled by the love of their craft, regardless of financial returns (which are usually disproportionately small), and this love shines through the work. When you buy from such creators, you do much more than support the one person: you help make sure that the art of awakening the light hidden in matter is not completely drowned by the flood of soulless mass production. Visit your local creator markets, especially around the holidays, or shop from respected handmade marketplaces online:

Your time.

Your undivided attention can be a very special gift, particularly for older loved ones who tend to face more loneliness. How about a “voucher” (handmade, of course) for “A day spent with you for you, redeemable anytime with a week’s notice”. Tweak as needed, but you get the idea.

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