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Anyone who has had kids or even been a kid in the US has witnessed the phenomenon of the annual “it” gift—the one everyone rushes out to buy so their little squealers have the “right” thing under the Christmas tree—the one that turns soccer moms into fierce competitors, to the point of fist fights breaking out when two people grab hold of that one last box. But everyone also knows that the next year there’s gonna be another “it” gift that everyone’s fighting over, while the last year’s prize sits collecting dust on a shelf (if it ever makes it off the floor).

Though the toys get more expensive as we grow older, the concept doesn’t change that much. One neighbor pulls up in an impressive new car; a few months later, three other neighbors pull up in cars that are just that much more impressive. The problem is, if we ever catch up with the Joneses, we will only find a new set of Joneses down the street who are even further ahead. Who needs that?

One-of-a-kind gifts are a great way to stay out of that cycle. Nobody will be disappointed that someone else got a better model if there is no better model. Quantity also tends to cheapen things. Have you ever been laughed at for using a 3-year-old iPhone? That’s only because they release new ones alllll the time. Imagine if your 3-year-old iPhone was the only iPhone that ever existed—that thing would still be amazing, wouldn’t it?! One-of-a-kind gifts are impervious to obsolescence.

One-of-a-kind gifts also leave more room for thoughtfulness. From their very creation, extra care and attention have gone into their making. Maybe the craftsperson makes a series of designs on a theme; each piece can have its own intention. The designer has a chance to show their true creativity, to provide more of a personal touch, and to better connect with a variety of people.

As the giver, when you pick out a one-of-a-kind gift for a friend or loved one, you have a chance to decide what they might like better, or to show them that you appreciate their nuances and individuality. “This one with the hearts all over it reminded me of you because you are always wearing hearts.” “This little house with the flower reminded me of spending time with you in your garden.” “I found this traditional piece that’s just like what your grandfather would have worn in his village.”

Whether it’s something simple and sweet or you tap into a deeper memory or sentiment, there’s nothing like a one-of-a-kind gift to tell someone, “There is no one else like you!”

There’s something pretty special about a season where we get to focus on what other people might want instead of just looking after ourselves. Life can be consuming and time travels quickly—but, if all else fails, we have Christmastime to pull us back out of our own heads for a while. 

Of course the season of giving can turn into a season of stress if we buy into the American big-box, high-dollar mentality (seriously, who actually gives someone a Lexus for Mother’s Day or fills their stocking with diamonds?). But we have a way to keep the focus on people rather than things: with conscious gift giving.

Conscious gift giving is about blessing other people while extending the good past our own circle. Some people like to give experiences instead of things, opting for memories over accumulation; even better when the experience is something the giver and giftee can do together. Others shop for eco-friendly gifts that can improve or at least reduce their impact on the environment. For others, the real gift is knowing something has been given to someone in greater need on their behalf. One of my go-to humanitarian organizations puts out a gift catalog every year where you can pay for seeds, chickens, livestock, wells, or whatever need most speaks to you, and make your gift in the name of a friend or loved one.

Another great way to make an impact with your giving is to make sure that the gifts you’re buying have been made by people who were treated well and paid fairly. I’m sure we all know by now that mass production doesn’t necessarily equate to massive good. Instead of feeding that trend, we can seek out gifts that have more of a personal touch, with clear supply chains or even direct interaction with the people making them. There are a lot of people in this world doing beautiful work, who only need a chance to make a living.

By buying handmade, cottage industry, or bespoke gifts—supporting creators, craftspeople, farmers, growers, or artists—we can give not just smiles or sweet sentiments, but also life-changing support to those who need it.

The DOMA Trading Christmas Collection