Contemplation: The Giving Season

Now that Halloween's over, the countdown to Christmas is on for a lot of us. Something to consider at this time of year is our tradition of gift-giving. What can we do to keep Christmas festive yet not fall prey to mindless consumerism? Even if you don't celebrate Christmas, these ideas hold true for any occasion that "requires" a gift.

Give memories:

Rather than spend a fortune on giving your family and friends things they don't really need or want (and that are made out of the dwindling resources of our poor planet), how about giving experiences instead?

You could buy them a dinner out, concert tickets, a membership to a local museum they love, a gift certificate for a massage or any other number of lovely experiences they'll enjoy far more than another scarf/necklace/jumper.

Give Time:

This Christmas, perhaps give the gift of time? Offer to babysit your adorable niece because, sure, she's cute but she's also exhausting. You could help someone move, offer to shovel the driveway, teach someone a skill you already have - something that gives the recipient more of that precious commodity of time.

Give secondhand:

You can call it vintage if it makes it sound better. Rather than buying something new, shop around for pre-loved items or repurpose something you already own. Get creative - perhaps your daughter would love a dressing up box full of your costumes fashioned from your old party dresses?

Give handmade:

This one's risky... only make someone a gift if you are good at making things. Nobody wants a necklace you made out of macaroni unless you're three and even then they're not that impressed. However, here's a site with 100 ideas for handmade gifts ranging from the "How the hell did they make that?!" to the, "Oh, yeah, even I could do that!"

Give Ethically:

If you don't have the time or the inclination for any of the above, make sure you're shopping ethically. Know where and how the items you're buying are made. Buy something that's going to help the recipient do good by the planet - a beautiful reusable coffee cup, for example? Above all, support small shops rather than large corporations and support businesses that give back to the communities they're in. The way you spend your money shapes the future of our planet.

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