This time of year is generally one where many of us will spend hundreds of dollars buying gifts for the special people in our lives. We'll make the mad dash to the nearest department store or scour the internet for the best deals to order gifts online. We'll pick up those cute pre-made gifts from places like Sephora and Bath & Body Works or put together our own gift baggies, all to show our loved ones just how much we appreciate them.
This year, however, I want to take another approach to gifting. My 2017 approach.
In 2017, I was broke. Truly. I had just graduated college, and was living in LA trying to make it as an actress. I had no job, no YouTube channel, and I wasn't booking the auditions I was going out for as much as I would have liked. Or at all. But that's a story for another day.
My friends wanted to do a gift exchange and I didn't know what to do. I didn't have extra money to buy anything for them, but I wanted to be apart of the celebration of the Holiday season. So, I gave each of them, and my family members, signed headshots of myself. And a small donation to a charity in their honor. The headshot was a complete gag gift that made them keel over with laughter, because it was truly something only I would do or even think of. I told them,"I may not have anything right now, but some day, that photo will be worth a LOT."
I also knew that whatever little trinket I could get them, the money would be better spent somewhere that truly needed it.
It was silly, and funny, and a memorable Christmas for all of us. Looking back, I definitely think there is a beautiful lesson to be learned from that year.
The reality of the situation was that no one in my life really needed anything. My friends were both doing well, my family had all of their needs met. There was nothing I could get them that would really make a big difference in their lives one way or the other. And I think that's an important thought to reflect on.
I won't go on any sort of, "save the planet, don't buy anything" soap box here. But do we ever stop to think about who in our lives truly needs something? Do we ever stop to think about a want vs. a need? And if there are other gifts we can share with our loved ones that actually have meaning?
It seems like somewhere along the line, we stopped thinking that a handwritten card or crafted gift like the ones we made in Kindergarten were good enough to give to anyone as adults. But truth be told, I don't remember majority of the gifts I've ever received in my life. That could just be my poor long term memory showing up. But I do remember the gifts that meant something to me. The ones that were special. That were thoughtful. That had love and care wrapped into a tight little bow.
I worked at a dance clothing store while I was in college around 2013. And I still remember the sugar scrub my boss made and gave to me during my first Christmas working there. She packaged it in a small jar, no more than 5 inches tall. She had dyed it a light pink color, and added essential oils to make it smell like lemonade. She tied a cute green ribbon on top and wrote my name in cursive on the side.
I haven't seen her in almost a decade, and I still remember that gift.
I'm not saying it's bad to buy your boyfriend that watch he's been eyeing. Or pick up a new robe for your mom. But I think it is important that as we enter into this season, we do so intentionally. Asking ourselves and the people around us, what they need.
It's somewhat of a tradition to buy a gift that you think your loved one will like, but perhaps it makes more sense to ask what they need.
If they just had a baby, maybe they could use help paying for diapers. If they are starting a new job, maybe they could use a gift card for some new office wardrobe pieces. If they're lonely, maybe they could just use your company more often or more consistently throughout the year.
Asking someone what they need, instead of just buying what you want them to have, shows your loved ones that you really care about them. And that you're not just doing this as a way to feel better about your relationship for one day out of the year.
As a blogger, I feel immense pressure to create Holiday Gift Guides with the rest of the blogging world, and add a bunch of links to a pretty post encouraging you to spend more money on things that ultimately, don't really matter.
But I want to push back on that expectation a bit. And encourage a Homemade Holiday Gift Guide. One that highlights homemade jams packaged in a mason jar, or Gingerbread cookies wrapped in Holiday themed saran wrap.
Or even just encourage you to ask your loved ones what they need.
The holiday season can be so magical, but it can be oh so very hectic and stressful as well. We hear it in pretty much every Christmas movie, that this time of year isn't about the gifts or the presents. It's about being with your loved ones, and being grateful to have been able to share another year with them by your side.
When you start your gifting process this season, ask yourself how you can best serve those around you. How can you give a gift that means something? That's thoughtful and intentional. And whose impact lasts long after the Holiday season is over.
Please comment below some of your homemade, intentional, gift ideas! I'd love to hear them and get some ideas to share with my family and friends.