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.