A Less Material Gift Guide

Sunday, December 9, 2018

We're smack dab in the thick of gift giving time once again. It's a fantastic time of year for many reasons, but sometimes you might just feel like giving but without all the stuff. Maybe you're short on money this year, maybe you're actively trying to be a bit more minimal, or maybe you just can't be bothered to fight your way through stores or try to be around for all those package deliveries. Whatever the reason, I thought I'd put together a bit of a gift guide with less of focus on material goods. There's still a few physical things in here, but I hope they're a little more purposeful or thoughtful while bringing delight.

1. A personal advent calendar 

Instead of advent calendars that center around small gifts or candies, this year I'm making a personal advent calendar for John. I wrote down 25 things I love about him, rolled them all up and taped them with Christmas themed washi tape I had leftover from past bullet journal spreads and tied them all up into a string I can hang on the mantle. Each day he'll get something hopefully makes him feel loved, appreciated and special even though he's not getting something physical.

2. Charity donations

So it's not actually something that goes directly the the recipient, but it's definitely something that could make them happy as long as you do a little research on what causes are close to their heart. For instance, if someone was donating something in my name, I would be very happy if money went toward anything that helps prevent climate change in any way. If I was giving to my parents, I'd give money to a local music group like the Nebraska Jazz Orchestra, a group my dad has played in since it's inception. For my cat loving sister, I'd give to the local no-kill cat shelter. If you're not sure what causes your recipient is passionate about, try asking them where they've volunteer if they had all the time in the world!

3. Schedule a fun day trip together

If you can't give a lot in terms of money, try giving your time instead. A lot of times I just wish I could spend more fun afternoons with my family and friends, but it's sometimes hard to come up with a plan the day of. I would love is someone planned out a day with things like an easy hike or bike ride in a park with a picnic, a museum visit followed by some local window shopping, or a day trip to a nearby town because it would me that not only would I get to spend time with them, but I also wouldn't have the added pressure of doing the planning myself.

4. Lighten their load and do their dirty work for them

Another way to give your time, and probably my favorite gift I could receive in this list, is volunteering to do someone else's dirty work. What have they been putting off for a long time, or what do they absolutely hate doing but have to do anyway? I hate folding laundry. If John promised to fold my laundry for a full month I might cry with happiness. Maybe it's something like doing someone's grocery shopping for them when they're busy, meal prepping for them for a week or two, helping them deep clean their closets/garage/bedroom/etc, or doing all the emotional groundwork on project like learning about what size of bathroom exhaust fan you need to buy (not that I've been needing to do that for a few years now or anything...). Anything that takes a little stress out of someone's day to day life is perfect!

5. If all else fails, keep it simple

Sometimes you still just want to give somebody something material. Go for it! My only advice? Make sure you're giving in a conscious way. I once heard a little saying to help focus gift giving that I still think is a great idea to this day -- buy something they want, something they need, something they'll wear and something they'll read. Obviously you don't need to get someone a gift in every one of those categories, but it's a nice place to start brainstorming from. Just try to stick to things that the recipient truly wants and doesn't already have something similar to so you can be sure it doesn't go to waste. And finally, if you're really stumped, I love the idea of gifting a plant!

Hopefully this little list has given you some ideas for the holidays this year. Happy gift giving!

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