Mindful Gift Giving

Mindful Gift Giving

Photo by Nuttakit from FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Give big this year. By big, I don’t mean you need to spend a lot of money at the mall, or gather multiple gifts for everyone on your list.  I mean that you can enhance your gift giving tradition by enlarging your view of the gift—by choosing something that nurtures your loved ones and our global community at the same time.

A mindful gift is thoughtful, loving and kind.

Pause to consider the values, activities and needs of each person on your list. Now consider them in the context of our world. What can you give that will lift the spirit of your recipient and have a positive effect on everyone else too? Choose a sustainable gift that will continue to offer peace and happiness.

We can start a positive ripple effect by choosing to give and receive mindfully. Mindful giving doesn’t take any more time than the usual consumer frenzy around the holidays—and you may find that it gives you (and your gifts’ recipients) greater satisfaction. It may even save you money, too!

As you sit down to create your gift list, take a few moments to breathe in and out to get centered.  

Breathing in, I wish to give my loved ones and friends meaningful gifts that they will savor and are good for their well being.

Breathing out, I send my appreciation and blessings to them along with the gift.
List all the family members and friends that you would like to give.  For each one, reflect on an item that that she or he will truly appreciate, that will bring them a smile. Then reflect on the nature of that gift and how it affects our world. Will the money you spend go to a local business that supports your community, or to a business that gives nothing back? Is the gift timeless, or will it be something that goes out of fashion, likely to be discarded and wind up in a landfill? Do you need to give a newly made “thing” at all? Or could you “regift” something, buy something second-hand, or give a time or experience gift, so that you use fewer resources and create less waste?  

If you are at the store with your list, take a moment to breathe in and out to remind yourself that you are trying to buy something specific for the person(s) on the list.  You may find that pausing this way helps you minimize unintended impulsive buying.

Here are some mindful shopping ideas:

1. Donate to a cause on behalf of your loved one. Choosing a cause important to your friend or family member is a personal gift that will benefit many lives for years to come. Ideas:
• Donate to education local to your recipient
• Donate to a shelter local to your recipient
• Donate to an animal shelter local to your recipient

2. Send the gift of fresh produce straight to your loved one’s door. Go to the Local Harvest website, type in the city and state of your recipient plus the foods you would like to gift, and you will find listings of local farmers that deliver. Easy and delicious!

3. Experiential gifts are uniquely touching as they can be thoughtful, communal and maybe even introduce a new healthy habit. Ideas:
• Yoga workshop
• Climbing lessons
• Jewelry making
• Chocolate making
• Cooking class
• Massage
• Dance lessons
• Cook a dinner
• Play or concert tickets

4. Send a Zen e-card and brighten a friend’s day. You can find beautiful ecards at Daily Zen.

5. Want to take a more hands-on approach this year? Beautiful, unique crafts are outlined with clear directions on the Michele Made Me Blog. Learn to make buttons, ornaments, vanilla extract, pencil cases.

6. Share your mindfulness practice with a Thich Nhat Hanh book or a Now Watch.

7. Support local artists. Visit your local craft fair and artwalk or gift hand crafted, even specially made-for-you apparel, accessories and pieces directly from artists on etsy.com. Each artisan sets up their virtual storefront on Etsy. You can support the creators directly, get great deals and one of a kind gifts.

8. Have a material product in mind like a bag, wallet, clothing or jewelry?
•  Ebay has a site dedicated to socially responsible gifts. You can shop by product category or by cause, (people positive, eco positive, animal friendly, and so on).
Amnesty International’s website features books, jewelry, clothing and candles.
Be Sweet is a website that features stylish gifts that are socially and environmentally friendly. Great for winter knits!

Happy Holidays!