Updated: December 8, 2019
Christmas is coming and the gift-shopping frenzy has begun. As much as I love this season, I honestly hate the overconsumption and mindless shopping that I see everywhere.
Aside from the careless spending with credit cards that many will regret next year, there’s also the needless waste of time spent in cashier lines and in navigating through horrendous traffic jams.
Additionally, I share the sentiments of a friend, who is a green advocate, about the bad environmental impact of gift wrappers and other holiday packaging that many just throw away in the garbage instead of recycling or reusing them.
In one of our recent conversations, we discussed how Christmas has become all about buying gifts, instead of sharing gifts – and thought of ways to do gift-giving with less consumerism.
Instead of Buying Gifts…
Share something useful
The idea of giving presents to your loved ones is great, but it’s not enough to simply buy what we think they’ll like (or find cute).
As much as possible, give something that they’ll actually use – or else it will just end up as clutter in their homes, kept to gather dust because they’re worried that you’ll get mad if they throw it away.
Use your talent and skills
When thinking of gifts, the first thing that comes to mind is that it should be something that you need to buy. But what about making your own gifts? Or doing something nice for them as a gift?
Minimize the waste
We want our gifts to look nice, but there’s no need to wrap them in bulky, ridiculous packaging that just gets thrown away the day after Christmas.
Use recycled materials whenever possible. Minimize the use of cardboard boxes and plastic. Be creative without being wasteful.
Focus on Sharing Gifts
Give something consumable
To avoid adding needless clutter to their homes, why not give food instead? You can bake cookies, or make your family-recipe salad for their noche buena.
Gift certificates to their favorite store is also a good alternative. It may not be as thoughtful as giving a “real gift”, but a sincere message saying how thankful you are to have them in your life can make a huge difference.
Regift what you don’t need
Declutter your own home and list down everything you can give away, including the gifts you don’t want, then ask your friends if they want anything from the list.
Not only will you save money, but your friend will also get something they actually want. Also, check out my Easy Flowchart Guide To Regifting.
Share your time
If you have a skill or talent, then you can definitely give your service as your gift. And even just helping them out in doing something can be enough.
I remember a dorm mate back in college who gave out “I’ll clean your room” coupons during Christmas. It’s a gift we still talk about until today.
Pay it forward
Make a donation to their favorite charity and put it under their name. It’s an uncommon, but a powerful way to make the season more meaningful for the both of you.
In 2013, I was asked to spend a day repacking goods for Yolanda victims in a relief center run by a friend. He wanted that to be my Christmas gift to him, so I obliged.
It was exhausting, but by the end of the day, it felt really good to be part of something bigger than me.
After having dinner with the other volunteers, I thanked my friend for the wonderful, shared experience that we had.
“That grateful, warm, and fuzzy feeling you have now,” he said. “You can’t buy that in the mall, so consider that my Christmas gift to you.”
And I have to admit… among the gifts I received that year, that was the most memorable and meaningful of all.