4 Ways to Give Gifts Intentionally This Year

If you step back and observe how we do Christmas gift giving, you might find yourself perplexed. 

Christmas is not what it was many decades ago. Somehow we went from a time when our grandparents were happy to get an orange for Christmas, to a reality in which it is expected that kids would be entitled enough to make Christmas lists. 

About 180 years ago the introduction of Santa Clause initiated the commercialization trend we live in. We tell our kids that an old man with special gifts for them in the back of his vehicle is spying on them. America has adopted a creepy elf doll for the purpose of making our kids behave. We now spend 12.7 billion dollars annually on wrapping paper, just so junior can tear it to shreds and throw it away. Each year we chop down 30 million trees to bring indoors and decorate. Black Friday is almost a bigger holiday than Thanksgiving.

I realize I'm being a bit negativeI don't actually think its all bad. I won't argue against Christmas cookies, Christmas lights, or Christmas music. I enjoy Christmas dinner, Christmas parties, and Christmas trees. 

But our gift giving in particular has become a spectacle. We now spend copious amounts of money trying to keep up with the latest fads and make sure the Jones's know they aren't pulling away anytime soon. Television commercials make it seem normal to buy your spouse a car or a diamond, and that if you don't get your kids the latest gadget or gizmo, you are depriving them of a magical Christmas.

I'm not necessarily advocating for eliminating Santa, or de-commercializing the holiday season (that ship has probably sailed). I'm just wondering what it could look like to be more intentional. Specifically more intentional with the way we do holiday giving. 

Here are 4 suggestions for how you could approach this year's Christmas gift giving more intentionally:

1. Give An Experience. 

You know that plastic toy you gave your kids last year? The one that broke the day after Christmas and got thrown in a corner and is still sitting there? Let's not repeat that. What if, instead of cheap junk, you gave memories? Consider a day at an indoor water park. Or family ice-skating. For your friends you might gift them a certificate for a winery tour, or concert tickets, or an AirBnB gift card. What will they remember 5 years from now and appreciate?

2. Give Quality.

What if you could give something that would last for decades? Something they could be proud of? Even though planned obsolescence has taken over, you can still find high quality items. Will they cost more? Initially, yes. But over the long term, no. While very high quality pair of leather slippers or a wool shirt might initially set you back 2-3x what a cheaper version would, it will last 10x as long. 

3. Give Words.

Have you realized that everyone else is just as insecure and lonely as you? We need each others words of kindness. What if you took a significant amount of time and hand-wrote a letter? Not the kind that updates them on the stuff you've been up to lately, or one where you tell them random stuff about family or friends. No- Remind your recipient of experiences you have had with them, ways in which they have impacted you, components of their character that you admire, and hopes you have for goodness in their future. In short- send them a blessing. Bonus points if you hand write it (legibly) and put it on nice paper.

4. Give To A Cause.

What does your friend or family member really care about? Maybe they want to see orphans find loving homes. Maybe he cares deeply about the microplastic pollution problem. Maybe she wants to see the end of commercial sexual exploitation. Think about what is near and dear to their heart and give a gift on their behalf to an organization that works on those causes. 

Hopefully that gets the wheels spinning for you on ways that you can be different and infuse some intentionality into the chaos of gift giving this year. 

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Cody Buriff, Director of Resource Initiatives