Over the past few weeks I’ve been writing about conscious gift giving. Not only can we reduce how much goes into landfills, we can also do better than providing our loved ones with more stuff – even if they like having lots of stuff. If we have their highest good in mind, what might we offer them instead of shiny things?
Several studies have shown that experiences make us happier than material goods do 1 2, So consider giving experiences this holiday season. Since Briana and I are spa-owners, it’s always the first present we consider. A foot bath, massage, facial, or acupuncture treatment will not only be memorable, enjoyable, and relaxing, but also we know we’re giving health which is always a win/win gift. It may even inspire the recipient to continue taking better care of themselves.
Here are some more ideas for “experience-gifts”: a membership to a museum, zoo, athletic club, or community center; classes in music, dance, pilates, cooking, yoga, ceramics, painting, writing, singing, woodworking, glass blowing, tai chi, flying an airplane, meditation, surfing, herbal medicine, bee keeping, or crafting; airfare, lodging, or food; or an adventure such as ziplining, skydiving, scuba diving, river rafting, rock climbing, or cave exploring.
Similarly, you can give a gift of service. Make someone a gift certificate that entitles them to: house cleaning, garage organization, painting a room, doing their laundry, car washing, dog walking, cooking dinner, watching their kids, lawn mowing, snow shoveling, or helping them with some other challenging project you know they’ve been meaning to take care of. While you might not be able (or willing) to spend a hundred bucks or more on a present, you might easily be able to offer services that would cost that much. It’s a generous gift, greatly appreciated, easy on the environment, and strengthens community.
Last year we made “care packages” for homeless people. Into large ziplock bags we packed all sorts of useful basics like a toothbrush, toothpaste, tissues, comb, soap, snacks, hand sanitizer, and socks. While it’s wonderful to be able to give some cash to someone who’s out on the street, they may not easily be able to procure all these goods. So it’s really gratifying to be able to share one of these packages and see the look in the recipient’s eyes as they discover everything that’s inside. If you don’t have time to make care packages, you may be able to purchase meal vouchers or haircut vouchers and help a struggling person regain their dignity.
Finally, this holiday season and always, I encourage you to give what you wish to receive. This is both an internal and external practice. If you wish to receive support and approval, give support and approval to others. If you wish to experience more peace and joy, intend and inspire others to experience more peace and joy. If you wish to receive abundance, see the world as place of abundance. Wish abundance upon others. Spend your money without guilt or resentment (which isn’t to say you should spend without any regard for how much you have), intending that you’re keeping the wealth flowing and making space for even more to take its place.
May you always remain conscious of your inner light,