As Thanksgiving passes here in the United States we quickly transition into the season of gift buying and giving. I was amazed how many people this year expressed they love Thanksgiving as it is a “pressure” free holiday, filled with gratitude and spending time with family versus the upcoming expectations that come from holidays that require gift giving. While many have reflected on the paradox of holidays such as Christmas, a spiritual day that becomes wrapped up in feelings of anxiety and stress, we have yet to create a solution that makes these days more about their purpose versus the pressures of our society. We contemplate how to make sure we get the “perfect” gift for someone, filled with fear of judgment if we get it wrong when in fact they are probably having the same fears and thoughts. We lose the feeling of joy that comes from giving a gift, we spend more than we can afford and we lose sight of taking care of ourselves as the holiday comes closer.
The solution is fairly simple and can be described in two little words, give love. While this idea of giving love can manifest itself as a simple and thoughtful gift, spending time with each other or ensuring you demonstrate how much appreciation you have for another, if the intent is purely to give love then the fear of judgment can melt away. Those in our lives who are as grateful for us as we are for them will appreciate any genuine attempt to give love over a “perfect” gift. Trusting that our intent can be seen and felt, we can release the stress and enjoy the bliss that comes from expressing what we feel in our hearts.
As you determine what you will give to others this year instead of asking questions such as “What do they want?” or “How much will they spend on me?” or “How do I match what I got them last year?”, etc. simply ask yourself one question, “How do I show them how much I love and appreciate them?”. Take note of anything that comes up, not judging it based on its material worth or how different it is from what you usually do. As you do this, the gratitude and love you have for others will easily rise up and guide you towards new and creative ideas. This simple shift in perspective will allow the experience to be much more enjoyable and fulfilling for you, as well as those you are giving to.
If you feel this will be an incredible shift for you and those around you, here are ways you can make it a little easier:
- Start the trend – Tell your friends and family that you would prefer them to not buy you gifts or to give money to your favorite charity instead of buying you something. This will help in releasing any of the pressure of what they will give you and leave you free to be as simple or extravagant as you want. They may still chose to give but this will release expectations.
- Set a limit – Setting a dollar limit with those closest to you can be an easy way to eliminate the stress. The lower you go it becomes a fun game in how to be creative with little money. For years my husband and I have set a limit of $20 or $25 and simply require that we get creative and make it meaningful. It is my favorite gift to buy/make every year. I also know families where everyone, including the children, only make gifts for each other and have the simple rule of not spending any money.
- Write a letter – When you give your “gift” whether it be something you purchased, something you made, time you spend with them, or whatever comes to mind for you; give them a letter or card expressing your intent of the “gift” and your love and appreciate for them. Most people would take a heartfelt letter as a very touching gesture and will make any discomfort you have fade away.
- Share this post with others – Send this to your friends and family, letting them know this is how you are approaching it this year and to expect something different. The idea that you will be spending time truly reflecting on how to give love to them may inspire them to do the same. This will also help you not have guilt if they give you something that may have more material worth as they knew in advance that you might not be spending much money (or any money) on them.
To get your creativity flowing here are some ideas on great ways to give love:
- A photo collage in a beautiful frame
- A first edition of their favorite book
- Cooking their favorite meal or giving their favorite dessert
- For family not close buying a ticket or airline gift card to go see them or them come see you
- A heartfelt letter or a beautiful quote expressing your love for them in a beautiful frame
- A day filled with activities or going places that they love
- A beautiful box filled with little cards or pieces of paper stating what you love or appreciate about them. They can read one-a-day all year long
- Buying them that one thing they have always wanted but would never buy for themselves
- A basket full of items symbolizing a special day spent together or favorite things from their childhood
- For kids buy them your favorite toy or book from childhood and share some wonderful stories with them
This year make a point to experience the beauty of giving without the stress or pressure. Make this season a time of love and gratitude for those in your life. Just remember; simply give love.