Happy Monday friends! Did y'all have a good weekend? Ours started off on a fun note with a night of ugly sweaters, frosé and good friends, but then became a bit of a doozy, capped off with the gem that is losing hot water and heat....when it's like 20 degrees outside. Let's just say, we've seen brighter, and definitely warmer, days...
On a completely different note, let's talk gifts. As I'm sure you've noticed, there's been a notable absence of gift guides on the site this year. Believe me when I say, I had tons of them planned and I even gathered items for all of them. But my heart just wasn't in it, and as much as I tried to press publish on the posts, I just couldn't go through with it. Call me the grinch, say I'm lacking holiday spirit, whatever you want, but I promise I have good reasons.
For starters, this year, more than years past, it seemed like there was a lot of "noise". Maybe it was all the election nonsense. Maybe it's because the world seems to have gone crazy. Maybe it's because everyone has to have an opinion on everything. Maybe it was because I felt like this whole year has been a jumbled mess of me trying to play catch up. Maybe it's because the holiday season has flown by and I've barely had a chance to even look at my tree. Maybe it was just because I was out in the wilderness, with hardly another person around and no cell signal in sight in Banff and Jasper. Either way, when we returned from Alberta, my tolerance level for "noise" seemed to have dropped considerably. So, the "noise" of "This is the BEST gift out there!", "You have to buy this and this and this...", "The must-have gift of the season", gifts, gift ideas, gift guides, "The gift everyone will love", so many sales, "All these gifts are on sale", was just something I didn't want to contribute to. Honestly, it felt entirely overwhelming and not helpful at all.
In my own life, this year, I've done a lot of cleaning out and working hard to only keep things with meaning or purpose on hand. So buying "stuff" seems counterproductive. And is it just me or have people become more and more difficult to shop for? Everyone already has everything or wants nothing. So what does that equate into? Giving your sister the same hat as last year, giving your brother more socks, giving your dad the same sweater as every other year....ohhhhhh, how exciting! Not...
Last but not least, I've had a really hard time wrapping (pun not intended) my head around gifts when it seems like the world around us is struggling more than ever before. Gifting something like a tech gadget or the latest movie seems so silly and trivial when you see people on the street who have no heat or hot water or food, or when others are literally losing their lives for no reason (i.e. Aleppo).
I know this seems like a more personal post or a rant, but it's stuff that has been bothering me all month so I knew I just needed to get it out there. I also know I still have people to get gifts for, no matter how I feel about things. Hence, why I'm still doing a gift guide, this gift guide, but why it's not your normal gift guide. Gifts that mean more is just that. Gifts that aren't just noise or clutter or junk. They also happen to work well as last-minute gift ideas, just sayin'.... So, whether you can relate to me on my whole rant up above, or you're just looking for unique/last-minute gift ideas, hopefully there's a takeaway for everyone from today's post.
Gifts That Mean More
Donate to a Cause or Charity || Pick one of their favorites (if you know it), or something general that everyone has compassion for, like animals, the homeless, children, a woman's shelter, veterans, or, currently, relief efforts in Aleppo.
Take Care of Something Simple || My sister and I used to love to give "coupons" for things as gifts. We may be all grown up now, but "coupons" never get old. Give "coupons" for doing things like mowing grass, shoveling a drive away/sidewalk or grocery shopping (great for grandparents), or babysitting (great for parents, especially new ones), or cooking dinner (great for anyone), or really any other task that may seem mundane or boring or insignificant but is really, truly a big help.
Make a Date || We're all so busy these days that sometimes we forget to stop and do the simple things in life, like just hang out with loved ones. So, offer specific times when you'll make a date of playing games or building puzzles, watching movies or working on a favorite hobby together (Another great one for the grandparents!).
Treat Yo Friends || A massage, a facial, a good hair cut...we all get so wrapped up in our lives that sometimes we forget to stop and take care of ourselves, so it's nice when someone else reminds us to.
Notes from Home || Whether you know someone who is deployed, lives abroad or simply can't get home for the holidays, they'll appreciate a "notes from home" box, guaranteed. Include some of their favorite things from home that they maybe can't get where they're currently located (think local candy, locally roasted coffee, baked goods from the spot down the street, etc), add things like these candles or t-shirts for a fun touch, and top it all off with handwritten notes you've gathered from all of their loved ones (friends and/or family).
Star Bright || Have a star named after someone. This is one of my absolute favorite things (although, weirdly enough, no one has ever bought me a star *hint, hint*). Whether it's someone who is really into nature/the outdoors, someone who has everything or someone who doesn't want anything, this is a really special gift that truly keeps on giving...forever really.
Create a Monthly Book Club || Buy someone a few books and then commit to monthly "meetings" to discuss the books (even if it's just over the phone or Skype). It's a gift that ensures you'll be spending time and connecting with a loved one long after the holidays are over.
Picture This || A mug, a calendar, heck, maybe even a blanket. Parents and grandparents love mementos with your face on it. (This is a good place to look for personalized gifts, FYI.)
Gifts that Give Back || This one takes a little cooperation and agreement from the gifter and the giftee, but, if all parties agree, it can truly be one of the best gifts to give. Essentially, instead of buying someone a gift, take their allotted gift money and use it to buy things like socks, hats, blankets, sweatshirts, granola bars, hand warmers and gift cards for places like a Wendy's or Starbucks. Then, put together bags and head out as a family, as a couple, as friends, and gift the bags to those in need.
Do you guys have any non-traditional gifts that you like to give?