Updated: Dec 8, 2020
As Christmas draws near, gift shopping can be really stressful as it becomes more like a retail festival rather than a celebration. For many, shopping is fun and the buzz of excitement of decorating and gifts is all part of it.
I felt to write this blog as many are in different positions this year, ( I know I am!).
After a year mainly off the hustle and bustle of work, I have had time to think about what are 'essential' and matters in my life. I've found that clutter & more 'stuff' isnt that that rewarding once the wrapper has been opened. It's too easy to get sucked into spending unnecessary money on getting gifts for the sake of 'a gift' or thinking we have to buy a certain brand or gift.
For me it started last year, I had foraged lots of goodies and made berry brandies and found Christmas was a good time to share my goodies! I had a friend who was fantastic at massage so drew a 'massage voucher' for another friend as a gift ( my thought in this was it was an experience gift and I was also supporting my friends side gig. Due to Covid it's been a bit tricky to materialize but none the less I felt pretty smug at the time with the idea!)
Overspending can also be a burden at this time of year so gifting is a great way to making your gift count and be more meaningful. We've all see the faces light up when gifts are given. Useful gifts can be highly rewarding for both giver and receiver.
So, ok own up, who has cupboards filled with unwanted gifts that came with a bunch of goodwill and good intention but the gift did not quite fit? I have my hands raised on this one. It's a pretty lousy feeling when gifts are not appreciated or not quite right. So here are a list of ways to do gifting differently. Different and powerful, so a gift can change someone's life rather than an exercise that gets us broke, hurts the planet and collects dust.
This topic is a huge one, but I'll throw a few out here, one can bake cookies, sweets, fudge truffles and brownies. Anything edible is a great way of gifting as it get's consumed!
Other foods include home made chutneys, sauces, flavored oils and salts, cookie and hot chocolate mixes, Christmas cakes, mince pies & puddings anything that can be wrapped or keep a while before being consumed is a good one! Traditional family handed down recipes can have it's time of glory! Go wild!
Another plus in this, is it can be minimal packaging too. As packaging can be baking paper, fabric, up cycled jam jars & food tins make it fun!
We have for the second year running been recycling brown paper that comes as packaging with deliveries. My kid and I get the crayons out and have a good draw of all the things the recipient likes and make a personal wrapping paper. ( kills a bit of arts and craft time too!)
Are you artistic? what about painting a picture or engaging in some crafty activities?
I've knitted scarves, I've made embroidering paintings ( although long time ago!)
How about writing? What about composing a story book of funny stories or poems or something with a title like '20 funny facts you didn't know about me?' , its a funny gesture, you get the gist, it depends who you're gifting to. It's a season of good cheer after all!
Depending on how close your are to the giftee, how about a gratitude list of all the things you are grateful for in this person and frame it in a pretty frame?
If you are handy with wood what about making a personalized cheese board? Or a garden planter filled with little pot plants? Plants are great as they have a lightly longer life span.
3) Appreciate - token gifts
Sometimes it's worth thinking why do we gift in a certain way?
Is it cultural? Do we give a gift because we were always given expensive gifts? Do we feel the pressure? Sometimes to give a 'token' gift can can have a powerful effect, for instance instead of giving a big bunch of flowers what about a posy with a quarter of the price tag? I recently received the most beautiful little posy herb flowers in the post. It was from a company called Flowerbe, flowerbe.co.uk . It was a token gift, a thinking of you and get well soon in one & the impact was huge! A surprise gift, it was beautifully packaged, had a hand written note and stunning herbed posy of flowers, ready to be put in a vase. Viola. easy. And not expensive. Maybe an exquisite box of mini chocolates rather than a big box where logistic companies are needed to deliver them? One of my favorite's are Ilze's chocolates ilzeschocolatmob.com I was firstly given a little box of hand crafted chocolates and I have been giving them as gifts ever since! I love supporting independents', as every sale is a way of supporting a livelihood. A token gift is a quality gift rather than a quantity one and can still deliver on the wow factor!
4) Gifting feasts
How would you feel if someone said, look I know it's been a strange year, I've got you a feast to have with your family. Wouldn't that be amazing? Gifting consumables is a super way to gift for foodies, there is so much out there! So many cuisines, different budgets and most include delivery. I came from the hospitality industry and it's been hit hard this year, one of my ex colleagues started a catering company delivering fabulous cooked meals, working through various lockdowns and employing ex hospitality staff, Michelin trained Chef owner Stephen created bespoke Christmas dinners using local ingredients that take under an hour to prepare and the box itself can fit in the fridge for the big day. Check out fuss free Christmas dinners at Stovesdining.co.uk.
Do you have a favorite restaurant? Check if they are doing meals delivered, lots of businesses have changed their way of trading so why not support them as a business so that you can enjoy those places again, once this horrible virus goes away?
Maybe the present you wanted to buy would meet a need, is there a course that your recipient could benefit from? what about some recreational classes? what about a term of swimming lessons? or wine tasting or cooking with fire? For kids there are so many ways to do classes maybe it's music or coding or even drama classes. These classes are all livelihoods that we're supporting.
I always think of gyms when I think of memberships, but there's a lot of other ones out there now from coffee memberships to growing your own microgreens to magazine, ready to cook meal boxes!
So be creative, there are plenty of zoos, gardens, heritage and cultural places that have been hit this year by Covid so support would be so welcome. At this time of writing we're in lockdown ( nearly out!) and the hospitality sector has had a major hit all year so why not check This year am feeling that the support local thing will mean so much more, to so many people.
Charities are another sector that that has been hit massively and being a part eco blog, sadly, there have been a lot of 'green' efforts & initiatives' that have been put on hold this year just to get us through this pandemic. I think of extra PPE required, which always makes me think of our oceans. More waste and plastic and I think of the animals, sadly they do not know it's a pandemic, just that pollution is on the up. So looking at ways at how to support 'green' or earth friendly charities is a great way of doing both loving the world bit and gifts. Gifting is about the sharing from the heart and my heart will beat differently about some things to yours so show some charities' some love!
8) Experiences- vouchers
A lot of businesses have had to look at ways of revenue this year, what about buying an experience that can be taken at a later date? From wine tasting to chocolate workshops and floristry, the list is endless on what one can get vouchers for! Similar to memberships, It gives a time to do something different, so as they say a change is as good as a holiday!
9) Pay for a need
This one is a bit tricky as it depends how close you are to the recipient. It's not every one's taste but to pay for a weeks groceries or to buy a feast for Christmas dinner for a family could be the same as treating someone to dinner.
Has your friend's just started up in business, what about a coaching session or membership as a gift? Has your family member worked way too much this year and has been in a year full of stress? What about a spa voucher? Has pennies been tight this year for another friend and excess spends are restricted? What about a case of wine sent as a treat? How about an outing fee for a family day out? Many have not been able to go on holiday, what about a contribution to a break away? Time gifts can be precious too, supposing a parent couple just need some time out for a dinner after becoming new parents? What about offering a session of babysitting or two? Little acts of kindness can go a long way and can be a way of gifting!
Lastly, this is a personal favorite, I'm a big reader so am always up for buying new books!
Books can cover all ages, topics, sizes and genres. I love this way for gifting as once used, they can be given to charities, surgeries or even sold on. I would love to devise a book fund in our house where we replenish our books with new ones by selling off the old.
I remember doing this for my kid's books and encouraged her to do the same for pocket money. I've found it is also a good way of teaching kids the connecting with how money works! Otherwise we simply do not have the space to hold the toys and the zillions of things that kids think they need!
Whatever you decide, keep it stress free, we all have to be super vigilant with our health & mental wellness this year, lets make 2020 count and gift wisely in ways that folks would best appreciate it. It's a win - win way of making sure memories are made. Good ones - after a long, drawn out 2020!