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November 26, 2010 / Wendy Joan

Holiday Gift Ideas

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good deal. And, once in a while, an insanely inexpensively purchased television might really change the recipient’s life for the better.

But I’m not sure people queuing up outside Walmart in the wee hours of the morning have the same intentions.

My nearly year-long adventure in Buddhist meditation has got me a’thinking about gift giving this Black Friday. For the past few years, I’ve been making my own holiday cards and gifts for close friends and family. But this year, I want to do even better. I want to be generous and conscious at the same time.

Words of Wisdom

You’ll remember I was really inspired by minimalist blogs earlier this fall. Here are some really great words on mindful spending from Barrie Davenport, a guest blogger on Zen Habits:

When you think about your things or want to purchase something new, consider these parameters:

  • It brings beauty into your life and stirs your soul.
  • It supports a passion or hobby.
  • It helps bring family and friends together in a creative, meaningful way.
  • It educates and enlightens.
  • It makes life profoundly simpler so that you can pursue more meaningful things.
  • It helps someone who is sick or incapacitated.
  • It is useful and necessary for day-to-day life.
  • It’s part of a meaningful tradition or a reminder of a special event.

You will know you are buying mindlessly if you:

  • Buy on a whim.
  • Buy to impress others.
  • Buy because you feel you deserve it.
  • Buy when you can’t afford it.
  • Buy just to update something that still works or looks fine.
  • Buy because someone else has it and you want it too.
  • Buy because the advertisement seduced you.
  • Buy because you are bored.
  • It’s purchased because buying soothes you.

My Top Gift Ideas

1. Give active gifts. Create memories.

Your gift should keep on giving beyond XXX (insert holiday) day. Take stock in what makes your friends and family happy. Maybe it’s a movie and multiple bags of popcorn on a weekday afternoon. Or a Sunday of yoga class followed by tea and good conversation. Think a little harder and give something you know will be a hit. Join the recipient in the activity if appropriate.

2. Support local artisans and small businesses.

No matter the size or cost, artists and local businesses will appreciate each and every gift purchased. YOU can actively contribute to making their holidays brighter and pockets fuller. Take a stroll down Main Street before hitting the department stores. Sites like Etsy are great resources for beautiful handmade gifts and vintage items.

3. Donations. Or do good deeds.

Know someone who has it all? Make a donation to their favorite charity or a cause they’re passionate about.

Or maybe your gift recipient can benefit from something you are really fantastic at. Teach them to sew a pair of throw pillows. Or give them step by step cooking instructions and then indulge in a great home cooked meal. Provide the necessary materials and ingredients and set a date sooner rather than later.

For more advice, check out “Miss Minimalist’s Gift Avoidance Guide.”



Leave a Comment
  1. Heidi / Dec 31 2010 6:36 pm

    I’m an Etsy addict! If you get married, you’ll grow to appreciate Etsy even more. (Hello bridesmaid gifts!) For Christmas this year, two of my close girlfriends received dog ID tags courtesy of an Etsy vendor. They’re engraved, inexpensive and perfect for dog-lovers.

  2. Wendy Joan / Jan 2 2011 10:32 am

    I’m hoping to wed one day, if only for the free shit.
    The tags sound so sweet! I am in awe of silversmiths. Coolest way to craft ever.

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