Written by Katelyn Regenscheid, St. Olaf intern
Sleigh bells ringing, hand print turkeys in store windows, and store “deals” everywhere you turn. In case you hadn’t heard, the holiday season is upon us. Holidays mean something different to everyone: a chance to reconnect with loved ones, beloved snowy traditions, consuming copious amounts of delicious food, and oftentimes presents.
Perhaps the most stressful aspect of the holidays is the purchasing and giving of presents. Oftentimes, the effort and money surrounding gift-giving creates a culture of anxiety rather than the intended mood of compassion and gratitude. Here’s a few tips on how to return gift-giving to being a pleasurable and meaningful experience.
Use your gifts: No, not regifting (though that isn’t the worst idea if you have received a fruitcake). Recognize your abilities and use them as a vehicle to give your loved one a meaningful present. If you enjoy wood carving, make an address plaque for a new home owner. If you are a photographer, find a creative or formal presentation of personal photography. Interior designers can find an antique mirror to replace a fading painting. Using your own skills and passions to create a present for a loved one shows your thoughtfulness and personal sentiments. And, it will be fun for you, too!
Consider their gifts: What does your loved one enjoy doing? What passion of theirs do you want to encourage? For aspiring soccer players, consider a replica of a ball from the World Cup. If they are an artist, purchase them an inspiration book or an idea journal. Encouraging someone’s passions shows your appreciation of their individuality and talents.
Give an experience: Sometimes the best gift isn’t a physical object, but an opportunity to experience something new. Indoor rock climbing, amusement parks, wine and painting shops, tickets to a show, and ski passes are all possibilities. Giving your loved one an experience is a wonderful opportunity for them to build the meaningful relationships in their lives. Spending time doing new things and being with others can be a much better experience than receiving a store-bought object.
Give to those who really need it: Remember that there are many people whose last concern this holiday season is whether Uncle Jerry will eat the last slice of pumpkin pie. Consider spending time this winter (and throughout the year) volunteering. You can donate time, physical abilities, money, clothing, toys, and much more to people in your community and around the world. Find a cause that you deem worthy, and be generous.
What meaningful gifts have you given or received? Share with a comment below!