I just finished my Christmas shopping and I feel good but… should I? This is not a place for lectures because this is not a place for negativity, so we won’t go there. After all there are plenty of blogs out there who do a fabulous job of explaining just why the consumer culture we live in is bad – you all know this already. The question is, what can we do about it? There’s nothing wrong with buying gifts, I bought quite a few awesome things for friends & family this year, but here are a few alternate gift ideas that can be mixed in with the mainstream as you celebrate your holiday of choice:
- Find a gift on etsy.com. True, it’s still a purchased gift but instead of mass produced you’re getting a one-of-a-kind handmade gift. Plus, you’re supporting a crafter’s business!
- Make presents yourself; learn to knit, sew, bake, make a mix CD, scrapbook, write a poem, paint a picture, make a collage… there’s plenty you can do yourself that will probably touch the recipient more than something that took you ten minutes, and twenty bucks to buy.
- Give the environment a holiday gift as well; consider wrapping your gifts in fabrics or other reusable alternatives to wrapping paper. (Old calendars, newspapers, and re-used wrapping paper are examples of some fairly traditional environment-savers.)
- Give your time. Help someone clean their house, take someone you love to a play, treat your parents to lunch… sometimes the best Christmas gifts are inside of you instead of a box.
- Stop and donate to those Salvation Army Santas (or charity of your choice) – remember when you were a kid and dad or mom gave you money to throw in Santa’s bucket, how exciting was that?
- Give to people you don’t know. Soup kitchens, clothing drives, animal shelters… there are so many places that need helping hands, and not just during the holidays. Take this opportunity to start a lasting relationship with a charity that’s close to your heart. (I’m hopefully going to start training for a YWCA offshoot soon – I will practice what I preach.)
- Give a stranger a smile; you never know what might brighten their day.
- Make your cards, and make them more than just a holiday hello. I like to take the time to write a personal note in my handmade Christmas cards. This year I went with a penguin theme and spent a festive afternoon cutting origami-paper penguins and gluing them to cardstock in happy holiday poses (Pictures on their way) and then I spent another day inscribing each one with a heartfelt note to the recipient that went beyind a simple “Happy Holidays”
- Take in the true message of the holiday season; give fully of yourself to everyone you encounter, for December and beyond.
This is by no means a comprehensive list; its just a few, simple, ideas off the top of my head. Why not add your own ideas in the comments?