New Ways of Giving

With Black Friday coming up, that's the biggest shopping day of the year, some people have been asking me to give them a clutter buster's perspective on some suggestions for Christmas gift giving. They are looking for alternatives to giving things.

We get so used to giving gifts on the holidays that the giving can lose its specialness. It can sometimes feel more of an obligation. This creates stress around the event. And then there's the thought, "What if they don't like the present?" A lot of my clients have presents in their homes that they have received but don't like. They feel obligated to keep the gifts. They worry that the person who gave it to them will get upset if they let it go. It can also be a problem if you don't give something because it can hurt someone's feelings.

But this Christmas can be different. You can give those who are close to you a gift that actually touches them and you both. Rather than give a thing, you can give an experience that you can have together. It's the moments of closeness that we most often remember and cherish.

Here are some ideas:

1. Cook a meal for your loved one. You provide the food and do all the cooking. You can cook something they love, ask them what they'd like, or make them something new that you feel they'll enjoy. Cooking for someone makes them feel special. People love to feel they matter. Make sure to do the clean up and dishes afterwards. You want them to relax and enjoy the experience. Because it comes from the heart, you'll love it too.

2. Take a loved one on a nature trip. Research your city's parks online. Maybe find one you've never been on yourself. Pick them up and drive them to the park. Take a couple of hours to leisurely walk around. People are nurtured by beauty and open spaces. You'll feel more connected without the distractions of the world.

3. Give a gift of a massage. People love to be pampered. You can either find a nice spa and give them a gift certificate. Or if they are your partner, you can give them the massage yourself. It makes a difference when people receive a present that comes as a positive action from you. You give a part of yourself. It really makes a difference for the receiver.

4. If you have a family, you can give the gift of a special time with just you and your child. You can bake cookies together with them. Kids like to be involved with making things. You can write a song together and perform it for the family. Sometimes taking something that you might be doing anyway, and making it a special event, makes the event special. Again, the person likes that you took the time with them.

5. You can give your expertise and time to someone. If you are tech smart, you can teach a relative how to do something on the computer that they want to know. If you are good at art, you can teach someone how to create a piece of art. Whatever you're good at, you can teach someone who doesn't have those skills. Again, people appreciate your time and attention.

6. You can take someone to a concert or a restaurant. You can take them to a dance lesson. Activities where you interact are very satisfying. Connection is one of our greatest needs. It's the direct way to reaching someone's heart.

7. You can also think about things that the special people in your life have always wanted to do, but haven't yet. It could be a trip to Tahiti. It can also be something local. The fact that you thought of it, and took your time to take them on this adventure matters. It touches them.

8. You can tell your friends that you're giving to a charity in their names, and then ask them which one they'd like you to make a donation to. You can pick a charity too and tell the same thing to your friends.

Let your imagination go with this one. It allows you to be creative. Plus it brings in a new energy to a traditional event. It's a way to give and make a difference in someone's life. Think about picking something that makes you feel good to give.

Feel free to add giving ideas of your own to this blog. We all benefit from your ideas.