Featured image by Ylanite Koppens

It’s that time of year when we get inundated with messages to buy more of everything. Sometimes the pressure is purely commercial, but it can also be personal and stressful as we grapple with expectations from our family, friends and even our co-workers.

So, how do you keep the sparkle in your holiday and get energy from the season instead of fatigue? Let’sPhoto by Asya Vlasova start with setting expectations with yourself and the people you love. As families and friends grow and evolve, many develop new rules or traditions around gift giving and the holidays. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Create a festive yankee swap or secret santa that focuses on bringing people together.
  • Share home-made or consumable gifts.
  • Volunteer together as a group at a soup kitchen, shelter or food bank in your community.
  • Choose a specific charity or nonprofit either as a family or as individuals instead of exchanging gifts.
  • Set gift giving limits to take the pressure off from spending a lot of money.
  • Give the gift of experience: a concert, a dinner, a massage, a trip, a class or lecture, or even a cooking or baking class like this one at King Arthur.
  • Give personalized “coupons” that have meaning: pet sitting for the pet lover in the family, cooking dinner for someone or any errands or chores that have value within your circle.

Photo by jill wellingtonThink about the meaning behind the gift. Is it purely transactional and purchased to check it off the list or does it have meaning? And how long does the gift last? Does it get tucked into a drawer to someday be decluttered into a landfill or can it be enjoyed immediately (a bottle of wine or handmade chocolates) or can it be used and reused for many years to come (a book, a treasured bowl, a hand knit scarf.)

In the words of Joshua Fields Milburn of The Minimalists, the intentionality of gift giving can become powerful when we “change our focus from consumption and obligation to love and support.” Check out their documentary on Netflix called The Minimalists, Less is Now.

If you’re looking for sustainable and eco-friendly gift ideas here are a few resources to check out:

Gifts for selfcare and nature lovers from the B Corp community

Sustainable Gift Guide from DoneGood

Eco-friendly clothing that creates jobs in America from Paskho

Eco-friendly gift giving guide from Green that Life

Businesses and nonprofits working for the environment at 1% for the Planet

And most of all, take the time to breathe, reflect, set intentions for the New Year and use the gifts that you have within you to make your family, community and planet better.

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Photo by Suvan Chowdhury

Life insurance is a true gift of love any time of the year, and Bluestone Life uses the power of life insurance to give back to family, community and planet. Join our community of Practical Activists.



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