Thanksgiving is over, our bellies are stuffed, and now is the time most of us start thinking of the “all of sudden it’s here” holiday season. This time of year always comes with a lot of stress, and most of that stress comes down to gift giving. Consuming us with things to worry about like, who do I need to get something for? What will I get for them? Will I be able to afford all the gifts I need to get? Will they like it? Is it enough? I don’t think this is how it needs to be. We should get joy out of gift giving. It’s something to be excited about not something we have to do, or something that causes so much stress and anxiety.  

I hate being bombarded with all the buy buy buy of the season. Retailers everywhere trying to convince you they have the perfect fool proof gifts for everyone on your list, and a sale to go along with it. The shear amount of things bought and waste created I have a lot of trouble with. Being a small business that makes money when people buy things from me, I have a lot of inner conflict this time of year. Obviously I would like you to purchase my items, since that is where my income comes from, but I don’t like pushing you to purchase anything. I would like every purchase to be thought out and carefully decided. To be done only if you feel absolutely comfortable about it. 

Gifting should be a feel good activity, and I have a few simple guidelines I use for enjoyable gifting. First and most importantly, avoid buying for buying sake. Don’t gift based on a thought of “I should spend x amount of money, what can I find that matches that requirement” or “I need to get at least this many items”. This results in you probably spending more than you really wanted to and gifting things someone doesn’t actually want or need. This also tends to create more waste. A higher price tag and more items do not equal better. Think about quality over quantity, and meaning over price tag. Gift from the heart not from the wallet. Take into consideration who you are gifting for and really think about who they are and what they like. A single small thoughtful gift will be appreciated so much more than a “need to” gift or a “pile of filling up that space under the tree” gifts. It feels good to be thought of, and letting someone know you paid attention when they said they loved dark chocolate covered pretzels, will make them feel so much better than a pair of mittens that happen to be in style this season. Think of what someone would get a kick out of, or have fun with, what they might really appreciate. Have a reason for why that gift, not just because. My go to gifts fall into a only a few simple categories useful/practical, handmade/homemade, fun/experience, and food/drink. 

I love a good practical gift. Something seemingly mundane you can use day to day. Things like home linens, kitchen things, tools, appliances, socks etc. These sorts of gifts may not be the most fun to give, but they are always appreciated. Maybe you’ve found the perfect potato peeler and your brother loves to cook. You know someone who makes the coziest mugs to hold, and you’ve got a friend who loves hot drinks. Or you discovered the softest pillowcase on the planet and someone on your list loves naps. Throughout the year when these things are used, they’ll be used with the thought of you. To have a home filled with items that remind you of all the folks who care about and appreciate you, is a lovely full feeling.  

Next up is my favorite category handmade/homemade. I love making things for those I love. This category could really be anything. Handmade candles, custom made calendars, anything hand knit/crocheted/sewn, plants from your extensive cuttings collection, a flower arrangement or wreath, saved seeds from a special flower you grew, the recipe for and a batch of your perfected and favorite cookies, homemade soap/bath items, handmade pottery, a painting/drawing, you name it, this list could go on forever. Now you may be thinking I don’t have a single crafty bone in body, but that doesn’t mean you can’t give handmade. There are so many folks out there pouring their hearts into the things they make by hand. You simply need to find a small local retailer or craft market near you and you’ll discover so many incredible things made by passionate people in your community. Whether handmade by you or carefully picked out by you but handmade by someone else, these gifts still hold the same oomph. When someone takes the time to make something by hand it carries a special weight and feeling with it.  

Fun/experience is a gift that is about time spent and memories made rather than things. It can be as simple as a hike through the woods, or a day to spend staying home watching movies. Or it can be the plan for a road trip you’ve been wanting to take forever, or a special dinner out at a favorite restaurant. Find a something to do and a someone to do it with, and gift the plan to do it. The gift of time in this age of rushing around and staring at phones can be extremely needed and greatly appreciated.   

The food/drink category can but doesn’t have to overlap with the homemade category. I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t be happy with a box of something special to delight their taste buds. You could’ve discovered this little pastry shop near you that has THE best chocolates, or you found a small brewery that has some of the tastiest beer you’ve tried in a while. Sharing these favorites of yours with those around will always be a good idea. This category helps greatly in the I’m not so sure section of gifting. A box of cookies, candies, or booze (for those of drinking age), is a great go to for those that you’re just not to sure what they’d like, or the person who seems to have everything. 

Pretty much everything I gift falls into at least one of these categories. Sometimes they fall into multiple (like homemade cookies along with the recipe) which can be an extra fun bonus. I love gifting and look forward to it. It’s something that should be fun, you should want to do and be excited to give something, not stressed about it. Giving should make both the giver and the gifted feel good. It’s about showing the people in your life that you are thinking of them and appreciate them. Remember to take a little time this year and think about what you want to give and why you’re giving it. A little thought goes a long way. Keep it simple and don’t worry if it’s enough. You’re token that simply says I was thinking of you and thank you for being here is enough.