Last Christmas my cousin gifted me with a donation to a charity organization under my name, and I was so pleased with it and it made my heart warm! It made me think how gift-giving during the holidays doesn’t always have to be about giving material stuff that the recipient may not actually use or like. As I try to live out as an essentialist, this year I’m pondering over the gifts I would like to give and receive, and the concept of alternative gift-giving comes to mind.
I must acknowledge that this option may not be for everyone. Most people look forward to the gift-opening part of the Christmas program. I, myself, love to get presents during Christmas; it’s one of the things I get excited about for the season. Some of these ideas may also not work if you’re not particularly close with the recipient. However, I think there’s a lot more advantages to alternative gift-giving. For one, it eliminates the stress of gift shopping and is possibly more budget-friendly. It’s also more sustainable, as we move away from the consumeristic concept usually associated with the holiday. I believe it’s also more personal and meaningful yet also practical, because these ideas can be catered to your recipient’s needs, wants, and values.
Looking for alternative ideas to make the gift-giving tradition more special and meaningful this holiday season?
Give Experiential Gifts
There are a lot of ways you can give the gift of experience to your loved ones. This can come in the form of tickets or passes to classes, activities, museums, theme parks, games or concerts, and many others. What I love about this kind of gift is that it’s specific to the recipient’s interests. It’s very personal in a way that you have to know what they like or wish to do. There’s also a wide array of activities or experiences to choose from, so no matter what your loved ones want, you’re sure there’s something for them. Your BFF tells you in passing she’s too stressed at work? Gift her with a massage sesh! Know someone who loves wine? A wine tasting or tour isn’t a bad idea!
To give you an idea, here is a list of other experiential gift categories:
Event tickets (concerts, musicals, movies, Broadway shows, sports games, etc.)
Tickets or itinerary for adventure and outdoor activities (skydiving, snowboarding, camping, fishing, hiking, etc.)
Memberships, Subscription Boxes, or Gift Cards
These are great ideas for gifts that keep on giving! Memberships and gift cards are practical to give to someone you’re very much familiar with. Know someone who loves exercising? Gift them with a gym membership! Does someone you know regularly opt for takeouts? Treat them with a restaurant gift card for an upscaled dining experience! These two ideas are not only practical, but they can also use it any time! Meanwhile, subscription boxes are a great gift your loved one can open not just on Christmas, but for as long you signed them up for.
What I love about this idea is that it can either be specific to their interest or it can include a variety of what they might need. Plus, you’ll be introducing them to a world of convenience and new products. Know a bookworm? Gift them up to a year’s worth of books! Did a family member recently moved houses, or perhaps into home design? There’s also a subscription box for that!
Give Gifts of Service
Perhaps this is an alternative gift-giving idea that parents and extremely busy people would most appreciate. It’s not just the free housekeeping, babysitting, gardening, or whatever service you’re giving to your loved one; you’re also giving them extra time back. If you know someone who has their hands full with responsibilities — perhaps they’ve even shared about feeling overwhelmed — decreasing the amount on their plate is just the perfect gift!
Here are some services you may want to try out!
Babysitting membership at Nannies on Call
Home cleaning gift card from Clean My Space
Give Consumable Care Packages
While care packages are usually given to those who are far away from home, it’s not a bad idea to give them as a gift even if you live in the same house! What I love about this type of gift is that there’s thought put into it as you curate what goes in the package. Plus, some of the items you put in don’t necessarily have to be bought; you can cook, bake, craft, knit, et cetera! It’s personal and specific for each person, so they would surely feel the love!
Still grappling with what to put in your care package? Try subscribing them to Little Life Box for one season. Little Life Box is includes a variety of snacks, wellness and beauty products, and more — just like a personal care package!
Gift/Regift Your Own Meaningful Items
There is something sentimental and special about gifting a personal belonging that means something to you. Of course, I’m not saying to give someone your used special socks or favourite sleepwear — that would defeat the purpose (and plain cruel). The key here is to give something you already own that you’re comfortable to part with but would be appreciated by your recipient; something that both you and your recipient would find meaningful.
I will say, though, that this is an alternative gift idea that isn’t applicable to everybody; you’d have to have someone in mind.
Take a Christmas Trip
If you want to forego the gift-giving tradition altogether, why not substitute it with another tradition? An annual Christmas trip, perhaps? You can do this with your friends or family, and you can plan to leave on Christmas eve! Instead of giving each other gifts, you can allot that money for funding your vacay. If you’re opting for a road trip, someone can chip in for gas, another for accommodations, and others for the activities. It’s a great memory to have and a Christmas tradition everyone would surely look forward to!
Get the Whole Family Involved in a Charity Project
Christmas is all about giving, and what better way to commemorate this than giving back to the community as a family? It would be a fun new Christmas tradition to make an event out of working on a project for charity. Thinking about feeding a homeless shelter or an orphanage? Schedule in the preparations as a substitute to the usual gift-giving session of the evening. Raising funds for a certain organization? Go caroling with the whole family, or even prepare baked goods to sell, in lieu of gift opening.
BONUS: Donate in Their Name
If there are causes your loved one particularly supports, or an experience or interest that ties perfectly with an organization, donating to it in their name is a gift I’m sure they’ll appreciate. Aside from it being meaningful, it’s also a chance to introduce them to an organization they may be interested to support, too. Know someone who loves animals? You can sponsor an animal or donate to an animal shelter in their name. Have a loved one who suffered from and conquered mental health issues? Support a mental healthcare institution in their name.
(Story by Assistant Editor, Carmela Valencia)