Meaningful Gifts That Sustain Us
No matter what winter holiday you celebrate, chances are that gift-giving is a part of your traditions. Gift-giving has changed a great deal over the generations, though. In the past, before fast fashion, malls, and online shopping altered the face of consumerism, holiday gift-giving was smaller, more thoughtful, and more intentional.
However, today’s holidays see bustles of shoppers, people overspending and running up credit, and those who feel they have to give gifts to everyone they’ll come across simply because someone is going to give to them.
This all causes a cycle that turns gift-giving into another holiday have-to rather than a treasured tradition that comes from the heart. This year, try to make your gift-giving intentional in a few ways.
Choosing Meaningful, Sustainable Gifts
The word “normalize” is common in pop culture right now. We can normalize going back to giving gifts the way it was done in the past to bring more meaning to our holiday gifting.
Together, let’s “normalize”:
- Secondhand gifts
- Handmade gifts
- Consumable gifts
- Experience gifts
- Small-business gifts
These types of gifts often take more thought and planning, but they truly do mean so much more because of the effort put into them. There’s nothing wrong with clicking “add to cart” on Amazon, but gifting your loved ones with presents from the following categories brings a special touch that we could all do with more of during this time of year.
American culture brings an abundance of “stuff.” The more things you have—and the newer and fancier those things are—the better off people see you (or, the better off you think people see you). Secondhand gifting, though, is a perfect way to eliminate that excess from both our homes and our world, helping to sustain the planet, our wallets, and our relationships.
When we give something to someone that we have previously loved, we’re giving someone a story. There is a beautiful energy that comes with something you’ve already used when you give it with intention. Try writing down why you loved something and the memories you have with it as well as why you chose it for the receiver. Whether your previously loved gift is a game, a book, ceramic cookware, or a warm hat and scarf, gifting it again brings new life to the item.
Things just aren’t made today the way they were used to. It’s so easy for our culture to buy inexpensive, made-in-another-country, products that we don’t even give buying, gifting, and tossing after the first couple of uses a second thought.
Handmade gifts, on the other hand, speak to the time and attention that someone dedicated to creating them. Have you ever had the joy of opening up a crocheted blanket, a hand-painted sign, or a piece of one-of-a-kind jewelry and knowing that the person made it specifically with you in mind? There’s nothing that makes someone feel more special.
The truth is that there are very few people who need more “things” in their homes. Consumable gifts are a perfect way to show someone you put thought and intention into their present while recognizing that we don’t want to clutter each other’s lives with things that aren’t important or necessary.
Consumable gifts are even better when they’re also handmade! Try your hand at making a delicious holiday treat this year, such as chocolate-covered fruit, spiced apple cider, or a traditional baked good. For kids, you could put together an art project complete with all the supplies they need. Whatever it is, consumable gifts will be remembered long after they’re gone.
People tend to stray away from experience gifts because they can be expensive, but these are perfect for gifting to an entire family or as a year-long gift from grandparents. Our society needs more of getting out into the world and doing things “in real life” as opposed to sitting in front of our screens and ignoring those around us.
Experience gifts create memories that will last for years; they might even spark a new hobby in the receiver! If you feel that you want to have something for a person to open in addition to a piece of paper or card detailing the experience, you could add in something small that they could use during the experience, such as a pair of mittens for ice-skating lessons or a picture book about horses to go with a trail ride that you’re giving your grandchildren.
Again, there’s nothing wrong with getting something that you need quickly and easily from an online or big-box store. But the more that we patronize and support small businesses, the more they thrive, which brings economic and communal prosperity to each of our communities.
Small business gifts show that you took the time and effort to go out of your way to look for that perfect gift from the perfect place. They also show that you value the hard work and ethics required to maintain a small business in today’s economy. Supporting small businesses also helps reduce the carbon footprint on our earth and helps create jobs. Plus, we all love the feeling of attention and service we get when we shop small.
Wrapping It Up
Normalizing these meaningful, sustainable ways to give gifts brings so much joy and beauty to the holiday season. You don’t have to spend every spare moment out shopping for the special people on your list, though! Join Stoney Creek Farm for the Holiday Craft & Food Fair at the Farm on Sunday, December 4th from 2:00 pm until 5:00 pm.
This community-inspired event is free, featuring local artisans and homesteaders with handmade baked goods and wares as well as demonstrations where you can even make your own gifts! You’re sure to find some unique treasures and make a holiday memory in the process.
Remember, gift-giving doesn’t have to be about “more, bigger, better.” Sometimes, simple yet meaningful gifts are the ones that mean the most and sustain the spirit, as well as the earth.