A Different Gift Giving Approach

This year when shopping for Christmas, I will focus on supporting small businesses, local to the extent possible, consumable, services based or experiential. I’m gonna do my best. We’ve decided to “downsize” our gift giving, focusing instead on the actual meaning of the holiday. I don’t want to be consumed by stuff and obligations and insanity this December.

But, we still will be purchasing gifts for our close friends and family. And that means buying. But not from the mall.

I know this past Saturday was Small Business Saturday, but I was chillin’ at my in-laws house and going to hear my mother-in-law play Christmas Carols with her church bell group. It was Christmas in the Park and we all had great fun. Cousins? Cookies? Cider? Popcorn? Yes, please.

But now that I’m back home, I’m thinking about our gift giving. I’ve come up with a list of possibilities.* Maybe this will help you, too.

1. Toys and Games

We have an independent toy store called The Toy Maven. And. It. Rocks. They started out in a tiny little space in a shopping strip place. They outgrew it. So they took over the space next door. And then they opened another store in the DFW metroplex. I love that they are an independent toy store. And that they stock the coolest stuff. And the free gift wrapping. And the educational toys and books. And the free gift wrapping. And art supplies. And a frequent buyer program. Did I mention the free gift wrapping?

For all toys and games, I’ll be shopping there.

2. Christmas Cards and Personalized Stationery

While places like Treat and Shutterfly are tempting because their options are so great, I’m sticking with a local stationery company called Between The Sheets Co. (Follow the link. Or make sure you type in the Co in the web address. If you don’t, well, you’ll find something altogether different.)

Erin’s been rocking the stationery scene since she opened her mostly online only store. She’s got beautiful Christmas cards, invitations, stationery and other items. Like I mentioned before, I’m sending a small number of cards through the mail. Otherwise, I’m using Facebook.

3. Handmade Goods

Of course, Etsy is the mecca of handmade goods by independent artisans. There’s such an amazing variety and you can feel good about supporting actual people (as opposed to ginormous, faceless companies).

I love these hand made, fun, quirky nail polishes from Melissa at Silly Bee’s Chickadees.**

Need ideas for the tech lover on your list? Etsy has artisans who make these Tech Gifts. These are so ingenious, I’m dumfounded by the creativity. I am so not that person. If I had to support myself on revenue from my handmade goods, I’d be starving.

4. Services

Who wouldn’t love a service as a gift? A clean house? A facial or other spa treatment? A Mani/Pedi? A hair blow out? You can source all of these items by individuals or small businesses in your area.

Perhaps you know someone who hates to cook and would love to have a break. Check out local chefs who prepare meals either for delivery or in home. Or, if that’s out of your price range, handmake and deliver a lasagna or other yummy dish.

Give someone a Gift Certificate for some babysitting. Because I guarantee you, there isn’t a parent who wouldn’t appreciate the heck out of free babysitting. (From someone they trust, granted. So, don’t ask a stranger if they can babysit your friends’ kids. Because, just no.)

Does your friend have a fur baby? You could consider the services of a dog walker or a pet groomer. Or, plan joint animal walking dates.

Do you have a friend battling their crap? You could hire the services of a local organization/declutter expert. Or you could offer your services to help your friend go through their stuff and find homes for all of it. Help them list their items on Craigslist, Freecycle or set up a donation pick up.

5. Memberships

Support your local museum by giving a membership to someone on your gift giving list! Got a family with kids? Try your local zoo or science museum. Someone totally in love with art? Try an art museum. What about fitness classes at a local yoga, pilates or other type of exercise studio?

6. Consumables

Consumables are another great idea for gifts that don’t create clutter. Treat your friend to dinner out at their favorite restaurant. (This might also fit in under number 7 – experiences.)

Does your friend adore italian food? Create a gift box with locally sourced pasta, homemade spaghetti sauce, a bottle of olive oil and a lovely wine.

Italian food not their thing, but they love tea and coffee? Easy. Source some locally roasted coffee beans. (Not available in your area? It’s ok. Do the best you can.) Add some flavored syrups or agave nectar. A loose leaf tea ball and some tea. See here for some awesome teas I’ve tried from Zanitea on Etsy. It’s lovely.

Maybe they heart dessert. Find a local source for yummy chocolate concoctions, a local bakery or bake some cookies and wrap them up in a beautiful little box. Do you make homemade jam? That’d be an awesome gift as well.

7. Experiences

Is there a movie lover in your midst? Treat them to a trip to the movies. Who wouldn’t love that? Do you want to forego giving physical gifts this year and instead take a trip together? I’ve always thought that sounds like great fun.

8. Thinking of You

Do you just want someone to know you are thinking of them throughout the year? I know there are monthly clubs that can regularly deliver items to your friends and family. For those who love fresh flowers, you could place an order with a local florist, drop off bouquets from your own garden, or pick up some lovely flowers from your local farmers market.

Wine of the month club from a local vineyard? Fruit of the month from a local farmer?

Or, simply send a card or note of encouragement every month. The possibilities are endless and only require some creative thinking and a little research.

I’d love your ideas for gift giving using these guidelines (small business, local, consumable, experiences). Please leave them in the comments!

*None of these are affiliate links.

**Melissa is one of my BFFs. I’d buy her nail polish even if I didn’t like her. Which I do. Lots.

12 Responses to A Different Gift Giving Approach

  1. Over thanksgiving my husband’s aunt from the Philippines was in town. She taught me how to make and roll Lumpia. I did a big batch and divided them to freeze. I’ll give them to my dad and brothers along with a bottle of sweet Chili sauce. I think they are going to love it and it will be totally unexpected. I thought of making a batch of sausage balls for my my not so adventurous little brother. He can just pop a few in the oven at a time and not worry about frying, like he would need to do with the Lumpia.

  2. These are all great ideas. I give consumables especially to the older generations as they already have everything they need. I am close to my ex and his family. One year I bought his patents a birdseed wreath from a local business. It was gorgeous with cranberries and other dried fruit so it looked very festive. They are huge bird watchers and told me repeatedly how much they lived it and that it attracted birds they had never seen in their yard before.

  3. I love and practise all these ideas except the Facebook card one – but then I don’t do social media.

    I don’t send out a lot of cards but I treasure giving and receiving real cards. I find it a gift that someone has taken the time and effort to send a card with a small note or even a photograph. If someone sends me a card via email I don’t even bother to open it. In this rushed world I find it very special to actually take the time to send a real card or letter. Sometimes I even send friends little cards during the year for no special reason at all. They always tell me how much they appreciate them.

  4. I just posted a similar list on my blog! I’m focusing on having a mostly clutter-free Christmas. Everyone I know already has what they need so I’ll be gifting cranberry jam I canned a couple months ago and some cool postcards I bought from a local market.

  5. We’ve caught down our spending this year cause I just decided I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on things that people don’t really want or need. I had a terrible time finding anything I even wanted for Christmas sad but true.

  6. Pingback: Throw Back Thursday: Kandice’s local approach to gift giving | The Simple Year

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