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Mindful Ideas for Christmas Gifts

Let's not indugle in consumerism delights this year

Don’t we all just love the Christmas season? Pretty lights everywhere, the smell of gingerbread cookies, the warming sip of hot wine in good company? The endless queues in the stores, the tense shoppers that seem to render the “kind” in humankind useless, and the question that leads to all of this: “What gifts should I buy?”.

As lovely and as special as Christmas is, it is also the most expensive holiday of the year. A research posted in 2018 showed that Americans on average spent 2,372,227 USD per minute shopping in December, while the closest nation to Bulgaria in the same list – Romanians, spent 46,676USD. Another survey predicts that Bulgarians will buy gifts for around 350lv this year, per person. The numbers are impressive, but this article is not about the money. Money is always circulating the system in one way or another. This article is about what we choose to spend our money on.

It is inevitable. All of us will have to buy a gift, or many, for someone. However, your decision on what to spend money can either make you a participant in blind consumerism, or a supporter of a local artist or a small business. You can buy something unnecessary, wrap it in beautiful paper and destine it to be put in a corner, unused, or you can gift something sustainable and practical that will serve its owner for years to come. The decision is in your hands and here are my suggestions to help you choose:

Support small businesses or local artists

In the last few years, quite some people that I know started their businesses. Some of them offer products, some – services, and some of them are artists that make music or some sort of art. Following their journey taught me one thing – if you want to support such a person paying for their product or service helps more than sharing their online posts (which is also good, by the way). With Christmas coming around the corner, I invite you to look in your extended circle, local community or on the Internet and if possible, to shop from such companies. In addition to knowing where your money goes, chances are you will also get a more crafty and quality product. Depending on what you are buying, you could also get the item personalized, which is a welcomed feature for a gift.

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Buy sustainable items

I was recently talking to a colleague of mine who had to buy a gift for her friend’s daughter. She shared how blown away she was by the number of toys there were in the store. The child inside of her was extremely excited, while the adult – totally overwhelmed. She said that after 15min in the store it hit her that she was staring at a mountain of plastic. Long story short, she found a local company that makes eco-friendly wooden toys and bought the gift from there. She ended up with a smaller, but much more sustainable and healthier gift. 

When it comes to adults, there is a rich variety of eco-friendly/sustainable gift options. From reusable items, such as metal straws or cute tote bags, to cosmetics, such as solid shampoos or all-natural make-up, to sustainably produced clothes and accessories. 

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Help support good causes

Another way to spend your money and make a good impact is to buy from socially- or environmentally responsible companies. Look for a business that supports a cause that you, or the person you buy for, believe in. Is it preserving nature, or educating kids, or helping entrepreneurs in difficult conditions? Take your pick and include a note in your Christmas card. Let the receiver know their new item not only makes them happy but also positively contributes to society. 

 

WoodWe is a Lithuanian company that produces real wood skin cases for Apple products. They are passionate about preserving nature and plant one tree for each purchase.

 

Do it yourself (DIY)

My sister asked me the other day if I had ideas about what she could give as presents to all of her colleagues at work. She wanted something practical and affordable, yet carrying the Christmas spirit. We ended up with the idea of gift bags with little sweet and savory treats that everyone can enjoy at any time. 

Ideas such as this one – packing dried fruits and nuts, jams or wine, can be great for colleagues or extended family. If you enjoy cooking, you can make something yourself. Nothing says “Christmas” more than a yummy batch of homemade cookies! Other things you can make with basic art supplies and a pinch of imagination (or Google) are Christmas cards, bookmarks, and photo frames. Your gift will have a personal touch and will save the planet some plastic packaging or presents that won’t be used. You might even save some money! I call this a win-win.

 

Gift an experience instead of an item

If you are not sure what to buy, consider getting a ticket or a gift card for an experience rather than an item. Tickets to a theatre play, exhibition or a concert guarantee a different experience for the receiver and support for the performers. For the adventurous ones, gift cards for something active like an escape room, paintball or karting would make excellent gifts. An hour of pottery making, glass painting or a guitar lesson might be great ideas for those who always look for something new to learn. The best gift card, though, is the one for your time. Make a few paper coupons offering to help with whatever you can. Some examples are babysitting, cooking, fixing things around the house, or just providing your undivided attention in times of need. There is a reason why it is said that time is the most precious gift.

 

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