Often we’re overburdened with stuff! the kind bought on sale and never worn, unuseable stuff given by well-meaning but clueless lovers and friends, stuff that’s too expensive to throw away and too inconvenient to use, stuff that reveals good intentions (raw foods cookbook, vegetable juicer, cashmere sweaters when you live in Florida!).
The hard part isn’t acquiring things… the hard part is clearing up unnecessary clutter. And here come the holidays with more onslaught of stuff – unwanted gifts, wrapping paper, packaging, all that needs to be bought and then thrown away. So, what can you do?
First, take a weekend to clear up your unused, unwanted stuff and give it to a charity. That way, people with small budgets can give something nice for someone on their list, and you can take a deduction on your taxes. And with the clarity that comes with an uncluttered space you’ll enjoy the holidays a bit more and be ruthless with what you allow back in your home.
Instead of buying presents for your friends, throw a lunch in their honor. What they really want is to spend time with you talking and laughing anyhow, so this is a fantastic way to make that happen. Do it on a leisurley Saturday afternoon at your house. Make finger sandwiches, fresh fruit salad, cookies and serve wine spritzers to save on cost if that’s an issue. You can even make it a gift wrapping party so everyone feels like they are getting part of their holiday tasks done.
Create an experience
Instead of a yoga DVD and an environmentally destructive PVC sticky mat, give your favorite Yogini a month of classes. Or buy that special person in your life a ski or golf lessons, a series of dancing lessons, a cooking course at a culinary school. There are many ways to give someone something they’ll truly remember you for. And you’ll get bonus points for knowing who they truly are!
For the parent of young kids, the person with an overwhelming job, there can be no better gift than a day at a spa, or even an hour. Give a gift certificate for a massage and that bone weary friend will remember you with aching fondness.
It may not feel intimate or personal, but it does save wasted time, shipping and packing materials. It even saves on smog that’s not spewed into the air while returning and exchanging merchandise. And be honest, do you really know what clothes or books your cousin loves?
Activists, environmentalists or charitable friends may appreciate being given a donation in their name. You can Google organizations looking for organizations that allow people to give rabbits, or chickens, or trees to poverty striken farmers around the world. Some sites come with an animal husbandry course and requires the recipient to give some of the first offspring from their gift to a similar family in their village. And that family agrees to do the same… It’s one way to make a small gift that can make a big, sustainable impact on an entire community. In that respect, it sure beats some jangling earrings that will never be worn.
If you love to make things, and your friends love getting them, then go to town! Make your own handcrafted candles, soaps or lotions. Bake holiday treats that will be savored and fondly remembered. Sew or knit something warm and soft for friend’s babies… use your talents to make something unforgettable and absolutely unique.
There are so many ways to deepen our enjoyment of the holidays and to reduce the unnecessary waste and stress that can accompany it. Give of yourself and make this holiday your best yet!
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