A New Year of Gift Giving

Avoiding the Post-Holiday Blues
Resolving to give more mindfully in 2019

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For many of us, gift giving is the biggest stress of the holiday season - from finding time to shop, to selecting the right gift, to getting the best price. We struggle emotionally knowing gifts often hold symbolic meaning for the recipient; yet, not having other ideas, we go to our default mode of shopping big box retailers for the "latest and greatest." We do this despite the fact that these products tend to become outdated or lose their appeal within days. 

Are you feeling the post-holiday blues? If you’re feeling somewhat depleted, it’s possible you’ve spent too much time and energy on mindless gift giving.

As we look ahead to the new year and make new, conscious choices, try your hand at mindful gift-giving: it can ease your stress, bring you greater joy, often costs less, and allows you to honor friends and family with gifts that are thoughtful and personal. It's a way to say, "I thought of you" rather than "I shopped for you." Here's how it works:

  1. As an event approaches, sit with a pad and paper (put the devices away) and make a list of the people you're giving to this year. Leave space between each name for notes.

  2. Jot down what you know about the person: their likes, their hobbies, their hopes, dreams and passions. What are their pet peeves? How do they spend their time at work, at play? Do they volunteer; what causes are important to them? Do they have an unmet need that you've observed? 

  3. Let your mind wander for a bit, exploring ideas related to what you know about the person. Imagine gifts that help solve a problem, support a hobby, enhance a sense of community. For those that require a purchase, set a price range within your means. You don't have to buy gifts to fulfill big dreams, but it's likely you can find or make something that holds meaning for the recipient. 

Before you participate in the Big Box Rush again, consider some of these ways for meaningful gift-giving: 

The Gift of Presence. Do you know an overworked single parent? Make your gift a double: a gift card to a spa or salon while you watch the kids. A lonely friend or neighbor? Make up a gift certificate for time together, your treat: lunch, movie, theater, museum (you get the idea).

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The Gift of Service, Skill, or Talent. Maybe someone needs help around their house. Or your unique skills. If you sew, make a gift card offering to sew for someone. If you draw, paint, take pictures, or are an excellent cook put these talents to use in the form of a gift or offer to teach them your skill. Another idea: a coupon book for services, such as rides, lawn maintenance, housekeeping, pet watching, that can be used throughout the year.

The Gift of Memories. Write a note, a poem, or create a collage of photos and captions of experiences you've shared with someone. A memento of times together is a wonderful way to give a gift that lasts forever.

The Gift of Igniting Passions. If you know someone who talks about wanting to learn to paint, buy them a series of classes. Or a how-to book and some supplies. On the other end of the spectrum, if your mother-in-law hates grocery shopping, buy her a month of meal delivery service.

If the thought of giving time overwhelms you, keep in mind that your energy reservoir will not be depleted from mindless gift giving. Also, a little bit goes a long way. You may even find that giving manageable doses of meaningful time energizes you and enriches your life.

Consider a new year of giving with mindfulness and creative thought. It can add joy and meaning to the process of gift giving during the holiday season or anytime of the year.