Something different this year
Lately I’ve seen plenty of ‘gift-giving guides’ floating around the internet, featuring ideas of what to buy for that person who loves to travel. Tis the season and all, right? Instead, how about a guide for the frugal traveller, or soon to be traveller, to combat the pressures of the holiday and still leaving you feeling the spirit of Christmas. The best gifts to give for Christmas aren’t always things that you have to buy at the store. This holiday season, my giving style a wee bit different, something a little less materialistic and commercial. Sure, I’ve got a few things in mind that I’ll pick up for my parents and sister, but I may have followed a few of these at the same time.
The Best Gifts to Give at Christmas
- A smile. Doesn’t sound like much, but how often have you caught a smile from a stranger, and just for a second stopped and felt that little bit of peace and inner calm. Imagine if that happened a little more instead of a little less. Smiles are contagious. The more you smile, the more others around you will smile too. Maybe not everyone, and maybe not all the time. But remind yourself to smile and you might feel a bit better too.
- A compliment. Don’t feel you have to make something up just for the sake of delivering this one, but the next time you think something nice, say it out loud. A positive thought shared can only multiply positivity. Just say it casually and honestly. And if someone gives you a compliment, just say thanks – don’t discount the fact that you deserve it! On the same note, if you don’t have anything nice to say, try biting your tongue. If you wouldn’t feel fabulous if someone told you, really think about the way you’re going to say it.
- A voucher for a favour. As a kid, this was my go-to gift for my parents! “This voucher is good for one load of dishes washed” or “One night of free babysitting on me”. You can tailor this to suit the needs of any loved one – and you’ll know them best, so you can make it as meaningful or comical as you want. The personal touch of putting some thought into a gift is always appreciated more than the monetary value.
- A handmade gift. Unleash your inner craft-ninja! Okay, I’m probably one of the least art-talented people you’ll meet (there’s a reason I don’t share the examples I used to create with my kids in the classroom, which used to be mistaken for their work…), but I can print off a few photos and arrange them in a frame, to make a thoughtful gift for a friend. Again, it’s the thought that counts, right?
- An experience. If you do have a bit of money to put towards a gift, why not buy a voucher for something for people to DO, rather than to HAVE? Instead of adding to the copious amounts of stuff that people already have accumulated in their homes, buy a voucher for their favourite restaurant or better yet, one that they’ve been meaning to go try out but haven’t got there yet. A night off from cooking and dishes, and they’ll make memories that they’ll have for a lot longer than this this seasons trendy gadget or piece of clothing, sounds like a win-win situation to me.
- Your time. If you’ve got some spare time, offer it to someone else who you may think could use a hand. It could be a friend or family member, or an organisation that always needs more volunteers.
Thom and I have been busting our butts working since we got back to Nova Scotia, first picking apples together in the Annapolis Valley, and now Thom is out lobster fishing and I went back to bartending Christmas parties to save for our upcoming adventure beginning just 4 days after Christmas! Since I’m not working 16+ hour days like Thom, I’m in a position where I’m more time-rich than I am money rich. After finding out that the local school board doesn’t allow teachers to volunteer in schools, I focused my efforts on finding somewhere within the community that might need someone like me around. After few emails, I began volunteering at the women’s shelter in town a week later. I sorted the donations into gift bags, labeling each present with the receiver it was best suited for. A few hours of my time contributed to making Christmas something special for women and children I have not and will not meet.
- Things you don’t need, to people who do. Pick one room, and go through it, eliminating all the things that you no longer need, want or use frequently. Think about who might want it; is it worth the effort of trying to sell it? Have you not touched it in so long that you wouldn’t miss it if it were gone? If that were the case, now would be the perfect time to donate it to an Op-shop or thrift shop. At my house, we donated all the tattered blankets that we no longer used to the SPCA, along with any unused leashes and collars from the dogs. Any blankets that were still in good shape but just unused were donated to the women’s shelter, along with books and toys that we hadn’t used in YEARS. 2 boxes of clothes went to the Salvation Army from Dad’s closet. Hopefully the stuff that has been sitting around, unused and forgotten about, will be repurposed and make a difference to someone else.
This year, let’s just take a moment out of all the hustle and bustle at the mall, racing around grocery stores and generally stressing about the fact that it’s a week and a half until Christmas, to stop and think what this time of year is really about. Somehow amongst the advertising and hype, it’s become about buying presents and spending money on people to show your love, but you can get away from that, if you want to. Thom and I no longer buy each other presents, and we haven’t since our first Christmas together. You know, that time when he went out just days before Christmas and bought himself the mortar and pestle set that I’d ordered him online ages before! Since then, we now take the money that would be put towards buying ‘stuff’ and put it towards travel and experiences together. We’ve been to Rarotonga, Thailand and now across Canada – soon to be twice, plus Hawaii and Fiji. I’m not saying that this will work for everyone, but it works for us.
So, relax, have a cup of tea, spend some quality time with someone you might not normally and feel good this holiday season.
Best wishes to you and yours wherever you may <3