‘Tis the season to give. Instead of emptying your wallet at the feet of the mall gods, why not put a little extra thought, heart and goodwill into your gifts this year?
Here are eight “gifts of gratitude” your friends and family will love:
Gift of Gratitude: Donate in Someone’s Name
The perfect gift for the person who has everything: something for someone in need. Make a donation in a family member’s name this year, choosing a charity you think they would be passionate about. Maybe even suggest making charitable donations a new tradition at your extended holiday Christmases. (You probably don’t know what to buy your great aunt anyway.)
If cash donations seem a little too impersonal, donate through an organization that lets you pick the physical item you’re giving a family in need. Your farming cousins will be touched that you bought a goat for a needy family in Africa in their name.
Gift of Gratitude: Time
Remember those “IOU” coupons you’d give your mom for Mother’s Day when you were young? They still work. Instead of just owing her a hug — kids get away with cute stuff like that — owe her quality time together. Promise that you’ll help her with her garden, wallpaper the living room, or take her to a local theatre production.
Gift of Gratitude: Homemade Thoughtfulness
Every parent knows that homemade cards are always superior to store-bought ones. Every child knows that homemade cookies trump the boxed ones. Spend a day or two baking, crafting or building — whatever DIY activity best suits you — and package little tokens of appreciation for friends and family. Because these gifts can be quite cost effective, be extra generous and bestow your goodies on your hair stylist, babysitter and landlord, too.
Gift of Gratitude: Shop Local
If making homemade gifts is too intimidating, schedule-wise, shop smart. Bless local business owners while you shop for loved ones by skipping the big-box stores in favor of privately owned gems down the street.
Gift of Gratitude: Shop Charitably
Seek out gifts that are coupled with charitable initiatives. Some companies give proceeds of certain limited-edition products to charity. Seek out Fair Trade goods. Shop at places like Ten Thousand Villages where you’ll both find one-a-kind pieces and support artists all over the globe simultaneously.
Gift of Gratitude: Host a Party, Ask People to Pay “Cover”
Host a party to celebrate family, friends and neighbors. Time together is what creates the best memories, not the stuff we give each other. If your friends usually bring host/hostess gifts, ask them to bring cash for charity, or canned goods for the local food bank, as their “cover” for the night.
Gift of Gratitude: Volunteer
Make volunteering a holiday tradition. Get some friends together and shovel some seniors’ driveways. Spend an evening serving dinner at a local soup kitchen. Help stuff envelopes for a local charity overwhelmed by end-of-year receipts and newsletters.
If you have kids, get them involved, too. If you buy toys for a toy drive, bring them to the drop-off zone to help them understand the importance — and rewards — of generosity.
Gift of Gratitude: Adopt Someone Else’s Christmas List
It might sound counterintuitive to adopt a family in need during the holidays when your own budget is tight, but helping a less-fortunate family have a lovely Christmas is worth the sacrifice. Get loved ones onboard as you buy Christmas gifts for a needy family in your area.
Sacrificial giving helps encourage gratitude in our own lives: You’ll be grateful for what you have, and even more grateful that you can brighten someone else’s Christmas.