Before I say anything, I want to clarify that I love this time of year! It is so joyful and I can literally think of nothing better than to sit by a fireplace while it is snowing out drinking some tea or hot chocolate. (Not that it snows much in Oklahoma or that we have a fireplace. A girl can dream!)
Despite loving so much about this time of year, I am also incredibly heartbroken by what the holiday season has become. Disclaimer: I am a Christian and so my perspective on what this season is supposed to be is guided by a Biblical understanding. I completely appreciate and respect that not everyone shares that perspective or point of view!
However, I think that many of us, regardless of religion, can see how warped our perspectives have become. Right under our nose, the holidays have become primarily about stuff and getting more stuff with a focus on giving back as a distant second or sometimes third priority. The #GivingTuesday campaign, for example, came out of a desire to add giving back, back into society. I mean, how ridiculous is it that we have a whole day focused on giving thanks for our blessings and the people around us only to turn around the next day and become totally focused on stuff and spending money. If you really think about it, I’m sure it will disturb you some too. Now, purchasing gifts for your family is not inherently bad in any way! I do, however, feel that it has become something it was never intended to be.
Our kids and family members don’t need more things. They just don’t. What they could use is something that is meaningful, personal, will last and makes them feel good. (And not just “good” for two seconds until they get bored with the toy.) That’s why my gift guide will be a little different. I’m not going to share ideas for more stuff to get. I’m going to share some ways to make something meaningful and do something thoughtful.
If I am wanting to physically give a gift to friends, family or coworkers, I always look for homemade ideas. These show that you have put in time and effort to make something that you think they will love. Here are some of our favorite ideas:
- Fill a Glass Ornament – Many families, including mine, collect ornaments from all sorts of places. Consider adding one to your family’s collection this year!
- Homemade Bath Scrub – There are lots of great recipes out there but this one just happens to be pretty easy! This is a great way to give a gift that will keep on giving. And you can always include the recipe in case your friends or family love it and want some more.
- Bread in a Bottle – This is another fun way to give a gift that your friends or family can continue to enjoy after the holidays! Another great “bottle” idea is hot chocolate mix with all the fixings.
- Coasters – Again, there are lots of ideas for coasters so if these don’t fit your style, look for some other options! These are fantastic and will remind your friends and family of your gift every day.
- Lump of Coal Cookies – Edible gifts are always great ideas and easy to do also! These are also hilariously “punny”, which makes them even better.
Obviously, Pinterest is the mother of all resources for DIY holiday gifts so be sure to look there if these ideas don’t seem quite right! A word of advice: don’t get over ambitious. Pick one or two ideas for this year to focus on and then save any other options for other years.
Giving back is my absolute favorite way to celebrate my family while keeping the focus on what really matters: others. It is so rewarding to support a cause that I am passionate about. (Probably why I’m in fundraising!) And it can also connect your family and friends with great organizations that they may choose to support. Here are my favorites:
- Living Water International (Gift Cards) – I love this organization for a lot of reasons but one of my favorite things is the fact that they offer a gift card option. You, as the donor, make the donation and can send the cards to whoever you would like! Then they get to choose where in the world the dollars go.
- Your local food bank or rescue mission – I currently work for a Food Bank and have worked with many rescue missions. They are truly phenomenal organizations and are doing incredible work. I would highly recommend getting connected with your local organization.
- Christian Relief Fund – My family has donated to this organization for a long time and have a huge appreciation for their work. Consider sponsoring a child through this organization and then the gift you give this holiday season can keep on giving!
- World Wildlife Fund – I also have a huge passion for conservation and animals. With this organization, you can adopt specific projects that speak to you or give an unrestricted gift!
- Your local Habitat for Humanity – This organization is great to volunteer at and to donate to! I would highly recommend getting involved in whatever way you can.
There are lots of wonderful organizations to support. If you have one that is especially close to your heart, consider making donations in the names of your loved ones. It is a great way to share something that you are passionate about and do some good this holiday season.