Rethinking Gifts

Yesterday I wrote about rethinking the Christmas season. One way to do this is by rethinking the gifts that we give. Christmas shopping is a major focus of the season, with Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday, etc. Every child should wake up to a room filled with presents.

Yet, the stress and debt that giving to such an excess can cause, can take the joy out of the season. And having a house filled to excess can take away the joy in receiving. The waste generated in gift giving can harm the earth. There must be a better way.

Here are some ways that our family is rethinking gifts this season:

1. Focus on one large gift. The Bean gets one large, homemade gift, rather than many small, plastic toys. She will get a couple books under the tree and some toys in her stocking, but her “wow” gift we be a toolbench that Rob and I are making. This will mainly be made out of materials we have in the house.

2. Don’t be afraid to buy used. Rescue an item from the landfill! Many items in thrift shops can be fixed up inexpensively. We repainted a used pedal car for the Bean last Christmas.

3. Buy each other an activity that you can do together. This year, Rob and I are buying each other Rosetta Stone Russian. We have wanted to learn Russian for some time, and this is something we can enjoy together.

4. Just buy for the kids. At many of our gatherings, we have agreed to only buy gifts for the kids. This eliminates about half of the shopping, and the kids still have something to open.

5. Donate to Kiva. Kids, especially, can have a lot of fun choosing someone in a third world country to lend money to. You will receive e-mail updates about the person’s business, and you will eventually be paid back (so that you can lend to someone else!).

6. Consider homemade, edible gifts. These are consumable, so they will not end up in landfills.

7. Remember that one small, thoughtful, gift is better than a pile of generic gifts.

8. Buy organic oranges for stocking-stuffers.

9. Consider activity gifts, such as memberships or gift certificates to activities that the person enjoys.

10. Change the focus of your parties, so that they don’t center around the presents. I will write more on this later.

Have a merry, stress-free Christmas!

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