5 Simple Steps to Feel-Good Gift Giving
Posted on December 12 2017
Christmas can be stressful.
As if the hustle and bustle of the season wasn't already enough, there is still the question of “ what should I get for ----------?” We have children that want every Elsa doll there ever was (and chocolate, Lego, dress up clothes, and the list goes on), nieces and nephews with very specific interests to cater to, parents who don't really “need” anything, and grandparents that do not want you to spend too much of your hard earned cash, but would appreciate something meaningful.
These specific needs and wants cannot necessarily be satisfied with the kind of one-stop shopping we prefer. The question of what to get our loved ones becomes even more significant when additional considerations of consumerism, ethics, and sustainability come into play. Where do we find gifts that make us feel good about giving? Gifts that align with our values and support the sustainability of our planet? This can be a very difficult task - a task that requires a lot of time and energy; time and energy that we do not always have to give.
This being the case, I have put together a list of “5 simple steps to feel-good giving” to help make Christmas more meaningful and less stressful.
- Shop Small, Shop Local
There is something very special about supporting the small shops in our own communities and the real people that are behind them. I love to see the creativity and diversity blossoming within our own downtown core. Our own local small shops have introduced the community to talented local makers that otherwise wouldn’t have had a voice. I am able to find quality, one of a kind products; many of which are made in Canada. Some of my favorite gift shops in Abbotsford are Spruce Collective, The Market at Spruce Collective, and Montrose and George. These shops are so beautifully curated and have a range of products that can appeal to any budget. In addition to shops, markets are a great way to meet lots of local makers and finding many unique products. What I love about markets is meeting the individuals behind the products and learning the story behind their passion. Some of my favorite markets are Purely Local, Shop Sweet, Fall for Local and Loving Local.
- Shop Vintage, Shop Used
Shopping used just makes sense if we truly want to make less of a dent in world’s resources as well as our own wallets. There is also a very special uniqueness to vintage items; many of which carry with them the nostalgia of another time. This season alone I have found a vintage doll house (which I am making over for my girls this Christmas) a set of nutcrackers, a crocheted Christmas tree star from the 60’s, a brand new wool coat, and a vintage plaid children’s Christmas skirt. I personally love thrift store shopping (my own personal treasure hunt!), but if you don’t, try Craigslist or an antique store. One of my favorite antique stores is Village Antiques Mall in Fort Langley.
- Shop Ethically
Recently, I have been putting more thought into where my clothes come from and who they are made by. Having your own children's clothing line can make you rethink how you buy in all areas of your life! For instance, where does that Elsa Barbie from aisle 12 come from? I often feel pressured to buy items that I would not otherwise get. Our little people are being marketed to at a very young age and therefore seem to want and expect more stuff.
How do we avoid this? First, we can try to buy less so that they do not have the same expectation of getting. Second, we can educate them on where things come from. Third, we can teach them about buying with intention (saving up for something, collecting specific toys) and enjoying what they already have. There are also some amazing shops that specifically make toys that are chemical free and ethically made. Some of these include:
Bannor Toys – Wooden Toys
Cuddle and Kind - Hand Crocheted Dolls
Trae Designs – Wooden Toys
Justly Market - One stop shop for ethical products
- Make It!
Instead of consuming, create!
Is there any better way of truly putting your heart into a gift? Making presents is a special way of both saving the planet and learning a new skill. This may take more time, but it is definitely more rewarding. I mentioned before that I had found a vintage doll house for my girls. I am currently making it over (painting it pink, making some mini throw cushions, bunting flags, and furniture) which is time consuming, but so fun! Friends of ours did a handmade Christmas with their family one year, and it really inspired me! Each gift was handmade by the gifter with the recipient in mind. There were wallets, toques, pieces of art, and mittens given. Everyone in the family had a chance to create something meaningful. They found materials that were not being used and turned them into items of value.
Looking for some inspiration? Look to Pinterest for some very unique handmade gift ideas at multiple skill levels.
Here are some of my top holiday DIY gift ideas:
- Less is More
If they don’t need it, don’t buy it. The whole less is more thing really does apply to children’s toys. Have you ever noticed that when you organize the toy room and put away half of the play options, they play better? Children can become over-stimulated by too many toy options. Fewer toys can make for more concentrated play. I always seem to do a clean out before Christmas so I can take stock of what they have and what they “need”. When family members ask what they would like for Christmas I can be more directed in my answers.
Another way we avoid collecting too many toys is by requesting meaningful activities instead of more "stuff". These activities include trips to the Zoo, Science World, the Aquarium, or perhaps going to a ballet show together. Meaningful experiences with loved ones can be far more valuable than things.
Another area of excess in my opinion is stockings. Have you ever received a stocking full of knick-knacks that you just end up throwing away? To me there is no sense in buying garbage. I would rather receive one small useful item than 20 useless gifts. When buying my own family's stockings I concentrate on needed items only; socks, underwear and one treat. Luckily my children are oddly excited by socks!
I hope that you find these ideas inspiring!
May we be a blessing to others this Christmas and give gifts that lift the spirits of our friends and family.
Peace & Love,