3 Tips for Mindful Holiday Gift Giving

December 2, 2014

3 Tips to Mindful Gift Giving

“It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.” — Mother Teresa


Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Small Business Saturday…one can easily get sucked into the sales hype.   The art of giving has become commercialized and sensationalized and we seem to have lost its spirit.  As I drove by the mall the other day, the parking lots overflowed and huge signs flashed, advertising the best sales of the year. I was listening to the Little Drummer Boy remake by Pentatonix.  The song was so beautiful that I took the time to actually listen to the words a few times.  It’s about giving your best gifts to honor someone, not the most expensive gifts, but gifts from your heart.  The words prompted me to revisit my whole approach to gift-giving this year. Here are the lyrics (less the ra-pa-pum-pums!):

“Come…they told me…a newborn king to see…Our finest gifts we bring…to lay before the king…so to honor Him…when we come…
Little baby, I am a poor boy too…I have no gift to bring that’s fit to give our King…Shall I play for you?
Mary nodded…The ox and lamb kept time…
I played my drum for him…I played my best for Him…
Then he smiled me at me…Me and my drum.”

So that begs the question, how does one shop mindfully?

Gift giving has been around since beginning of time. But as technology developed, marketing and advertising have convinced us that we need to be buying the latest and greatest.  We look for the best deals and the hottest trends.  We’ve lost the art of giving – you know that warm feeling you get when you give a meaningful gift to another person?  Here’s my theory – the joy of giving is all about the energy that we are offering another person.  The actual gift itself is just a symbol for the energy you are offering them.  The true gift of giving is how you make someone feel.

In reflection on the best gifts I’ve ever received, they were NOT something purchased at the mall or on my favorite websites. Here is my list of top three mindful holiday gift ideas that I like to refer to as giving PRESENTS with PRESENCE:

1) GIFT OF LESSONS!  These are my most favorite gifts ever!  Last year, I bought my husband a flying lesson.  Very inexpensive, a few hours, a really basic lesson.  Okay, so secretly, this was not totally a selfless gift. What I really wanted was for him to become hooked on flying and eventually get his pilot’s license so he can fly me to exotic vacations.  That never happened, but still – he enjoyed his lesson. A few other suggestions – a vegan cooking lesson, a watercolor class, photography class, an hour of private instruction in yoga, or a massage gift certificate with your favorite massage therapist.

Material items break or become outdated, but the memories of an experience as well as learning something new can last a lifetime.  Most people I’ve found as adults are hesitant to try something new because they are afraid to look like they don’t know what they’re doing.  But truly the most exciting gifts are those that teach something new.

2)  PERSONALIZE IT!   I hate to clean and organize.  One year as a gift, my mother-in-law organized my entire closet.  Shoes neatly paired and organized, clothes color coordinated, it was the best gift ever. Ask me if I remember any other gift that my mother-in-law has ever given me?  No. But I remember when she organized my closet.  Ask yourself – What is their true passion? What makes them smile?  Make a donation in their name for something they are passionate about.  Sponsor a child, sponsor an animal at the SPCA or National Wildlife Federation, plant a tree in their name at the Arbor Foundation website, or perhaps visit Etsy online and find them a personalized handmade gift.  Any gift that lets a person know that you see the beauty of their true being are and is reflected in the gift you give can be powerful.

3) WRITE A HEARTFELT NOTE – Forget the gift and write a heartfelt note instead, this can be an offering of forgiveness, gratitude, or love.   I am a HUGE fan of writing notes to people.  Every year, my husband gets me a great gift but forgets the heartfelt note part. I always lovingly remind him that I would rather have just a heartfelt note than anything bought from the store.  Letters are cherished.  Especially letters that touch the heart.

So as you’re running down that list of gifts to give others this season, remember those words from the Little Drummer Boy (and if you have time, listen to the song and be inspired by its beauty),

“I played my drum for him. I played my best for Him.

Then he smiled me at me. Me and my drum.”

That is real giving.  So this year forget the mall! Ignore the free shipping lures online.  Instead, think about the person to whom you are giving and play your drum for them.

Happy Giving!!


3 Tips for Mindful Holiday Gift Giving

 Also by Jen: 10 Ways to Maintain Healthy Eating During the Holidays

More Holiday ideas: Vegan Double Chocolate Chip Coconut Cookies

Editor’s Picks: Holiday Gift Ideas 2014

Ask Peaceful Dumpling: Christmas Gift Etiquette


Photos: Sig Hafstrom via Flickr; Borja Fernández via FreeRangeStock

Jen is a mom of five young kids and is passionate about running, triathlons, health, reading and nature. She owns a vegan skin care and nutrition business and lives with her family near Annapolis, MD.


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