November 24, 2009

Boo Black Friday!
Hello Mindful Gift Giving!

I will be honest, I don’t like shopping. I have never understood Black Friday and find it frightening that so many people consider it the highlight of their year. While I am not a fan of that level of consumerism, I love giving gifts. There is nothing like the feeling of giving someone a mindful gift. Something meant for them that says “You’re special and I appreciate you for all that you are”. This season I thought I would put together a few thoughts on ways to be mindful in your giving. My ideas will tend to focus on the outdoorsy and crafty types because that’s what I know, but these ideas can easily transition to people with other hobbies and interests.

The term re-gift has a very negative connotation, considered something we do when we run out of time to buy a gift or don’t care enough to shop for someone. However giving someone something you love can be one of the most thoughtful gifts. This year I have asked my friends to not give me gifts however I have invited them to do a holiday book exchange. The rules are simple, it can’t be a new book, it has to be one from their existing stash and that they want to share with me. In return I will choose a book from my collection for them.

Make it with your own two hands (or pay someone else to)
Handmade gifts are mindful because they take time, effort, and love. You can knit for someone or take part in another craft. If they’re a baker or chef you can pull together a collection of your favorite family recipes. For the outdoorsy type you can make a batch of homemade trail mix paired with travel size reusable snack containers.

If you would rather support someone else’s handmade business check out There are so many amazing artists with so many various items from clothing to art for the wall to unique crafts like altered books there is something for everyone. You can search by color, key words, or category.

Perhaps these are a little too touchy feely for you. You want something simple, neat, and thoughtful. How about a poster of a favorite memory from the past year. I recently mentioned PosterBrain and can’t rave enough about their service. Take a favorite photo and they will quickly send you a poster at a very reasonable price. You‘ll have enough left over for a fancy frame.

A Gift of Support
My dad has no clue what Access Fund it or what they do. However as a climber I would be delighted if he gave me one of their Holiday Gift Packs for the holidays. While many organizations don’t offer such neat little packages they do have gift memberships. Check out the members of the Outdoor Alliance and you’ll most likely find an organization that is important to your outdoors lover.

Of course there are many non-profit organizations that may not have “memberships” per se but a donation in your loved one’s name would be perfect. One of my favorite organizations is Heifer International. With a variety of gifts at varying price levels, a donation on behalf of your family or friend would contribute to a developing community in a very special way.

A Gift of Learning
I have had an incredible year in my study of yoga, trying out Aerial Dance, and my amazing trip with Chicks Rock to Devil’s Lake (thanks again to Pemba Serves). By all rights I am not old, but I am old enough to think ‘I’m too old to try that’. However I have learned that’s just rarely, if ever, true. One of the reasons I am always able to try new things is because my family has never said “Are you kidding?” or “Really, aren’t you too old?”. If your special person, or child, or parent, or friend has been hinting at trying something new give them a gift certificate for a new class. Not only does this give them a jumpstart to make that leap but it says “I believe in you”.

But Cupcake…I just have to buy them something!!!
Mindful giving doesn’t always come in the form of a handmade gift or something philanthropic. Sometimes we can just go to the store and buy something and we’re still giving back and being mindful. For example two of my favorite brands are PrAna and Mountain Hardwear. While I love their products because they’re well made and last a very long time these are also organizations that give back to causes I believe in. Take a few minutes to compare brands when you’re shopping for gifts. While one item may cost a little more they may be supporting causes that you and/or the gift recipient believe in. Choosing mindful consumers shows you care and want them to keep on giving back. For more outdoorsy brands that give back check out my previous post here.

Thanksgiving is right around the corner so I want to take a moment to say thank you for reading my blog. Whether you’re a regular reader or this is your first visit I appreciate that you’re taking the time to check out my thoughts. Living a thankful and mindful life is a constant goal for me and I am grateful that you are exploring these ideas with me.


Hip Mountain Mama said...

Thanks for this great post! You make some excellent points and I enjoyed reading this!
Happy Thanksgiving!

suemorton said...

Love the idea of a gift of support - thanks to Jay for pointing me to your blog!