Do the holidays make you feel especially complicated feelings? You are not alone.
The holiday time can make people uncomfortable for such a variety of reasons. Maybe you have negative memories associated with a holiday, maybe your religion is non-conforming and so you celebrate traditions and not religion, maybe your family is terrible, maybe you are already sick of functioning in this bullying capitalist beast of a machine that beats you down for your wallet endlessly while simultaneously pressuring your income with higher costs of living and wage stagnation – all while destroying earth’s resources to provide what is ultimately a really lovely feeling of appreciation that happens when we give and receive gifts. Phew, that was an emotional rollercoaster and it’s just the first paragraph!
Please allow me to introduce you to the concept of conscious gifting, and if you engage in conscious gifting I’d love to hear about what you do!
Support Your Friends
I have so many friends with their own independent endeavors. It’s possible I know more of these kinds of people because of the way I engage in society as an artist, but it’s so common for people to have a side business you may not even know that your friend makes some awesome and unique gift options. Every holiday season I post on social media and ask my friends to share their websites or etsy sites or projects they are promoting. The list is fun and it feels great to purchase from a pal and make another friend happy with their gift.
Here are the businesses my friends offered up this year:
Special good juju candles for rituals or fun by my girl @misspixiesplace
Incredible away bag for animals The Rover
Books of poems/illustrations for 3rd grade+, and Classics (kind of) for 4th grade+ (for all ages to enjoy)! WitterWorks
Commission custom pictures or bags www.stolenkeydesigns.com
Nature inspired crafts of a wide and beautiful variety by Scarlet Darter
One of a kind baby clothing from BlitheStarBaby
And for the witches, handmade tarot card bags, clutches and altar cloths BohoQuest
One of the best gifts I ever gave was for my partner on our first Valentine’s Day together, an entirely unique and individually crafted piece of artwork on canvas. I used my friend’s service at Stolen Key Designs to commission a special piece of art, I told her I wanted something for my partner and that I didn’t even know what image I desired. I wrote her some little stories about us and the nicknames we call each other and she began sketching. She sent me a sketch that I adored and the final product was better than I could have imagined, it is now on the wall above our bed, several years and a wedding later.
More Conscious Gifting Methods
Plant a tree or grove of trees in honor or memory. www.alivingtribute.org
Last year was my dad’s first Christmas without his parents and I planted a grove of trees in their honor and had A Living Tribute send me the card for him so I could personalize it before he got it, but they can send directly to the recipient with a personal message, if you wish. I’ll tell you that out of all the gifts, this is what meant the most to him and I intend do do it again for this Christmas.
Sidenote: Time ago I decided I should plant a tree for every year I’m alive, and this organization is helping me reach that goal too, for myself and some littles in my life whom I hope will want to continue that tradition for themselves.
Donate to a charity of value to the person you’re gifting.
There are so many vital causes, if you know someone passionate about one, give the gift that they will treasure when they understand that you have heard their real priorities. Most charities will send a card to the person you wish to honor. Last year I bought a jar of jam and a mound of marshmallows for a bear at Animals Asia and even though that’s a small contribution, it’s so cute to gift the bears, the card they send is nice, and the mission is so important that the whole thing felt great to buy and it brought great smiles to the recipients!
Give the gift of experiences.
There is so much opportunity in this category. Entertainment? My second Valentine’s Day with my partner, I bought us a subscription for the next year to a theatre. That guaranteed me about a date a month and it was wonderful! You’d be surprised at how affordable something like that can be and I adored the added benefit of assured date nights.
Give what you planned but shop with global wellness in mind.
You want to know what I mean by this one, right? If you are going to give someone some clothing, but the fact that the fashion industry is one of the most damaging industries to the wellness of our planet haunts you, look for clothing companies with fabrics that are plentifully harvested and biodegradable – or whatever other ethics you seek! Found this wonderful bamboo clothing company today, Cariloha Bamboo. Yes, these types of clothing can be expensive and may not ship amazon prime but you know what? Living on the earth through all types of destruction is gonna suck, so let’s just make some real change that matters, okay? *Sidenote: check the prices and find out that their awesome sale happening now actually makes their t-shirts less than those at Target. Don’t assume you can’t afford to be conscious, shop a bit and you may find that you can definitely afford it.* Plus, I have switched to bamboo sheets and towels already and I love how the material feels and breaths.
AND, don’t forget that thrift stores and used book stores are amazing because reuse remains the best way to minimize our footprints during product acquisition. And if you’ve the talent to make or write something for someone that is always a most touching gift.
Got a friend who loves jewelry? Maybe a bracelet made of plastic pulled from the Ocean would do! 4Ocean has an amazing mission and I love those hippie chic bracelets.
Swag From Conscious Shops
This category is fun! There are so many different organizations that have shops that you can purchase from that benefit their tremendous causes, this way you can donate to a cause and give someone something tangible too.
Two of my favorites:
Human Rights Campain – a great shop of a variety of items in a strong price range. This organization is doing wonderful work for the LGBTQ community.
PBS – So important to support public broadcasting. This shop has dvds and old tv shows too, need some Mr. Rogers in your life? They’ve got it. They also have socks and bags and mugs and so many things! Oh, and right now it’s all on sale so get to it!
Local shops are conscious too! So if you are in the LA area…
Mindfulnest is full of crafts by independent artists. Items are a wide variety and prices are reasonable and varied.
Co-Op28 is a favorite of mine. Another wide variety of items that are handmade or local or vintage. They carry more than 150 independent artists’ work in their shop.
Give Extra To Those In Need If You Can
I don’t make a lot of money so I can’t do much beyond what I already do for friends and family. And probably I should save some money to retire on instead of giving as I do, but my heart wants to help and so it does. I love to make stockings for people on the streets and I make it happen at the dollar store. I make however many stockings I can afford and keep them in my car to give away. Stockings generally include: socks, scarf, toothbrush, toothpaste, some healthy snacks and candy snacks. People are very grateful to receive them! This year I’m foregoing stockings because I heard of a girl who is dying of cystic fibrosis and she and her mom are very poor and I’m sending them a care package. This will be for someone I’ve never met, but heard of her tough situation through a friend of a friend. I think they deserve some surprise love and support. Perhaps one of you will make the stockings I won’t be doing this year?
Be Mindful Of The Individual’s Wants And Needs
When you write your list of whom you are gifting, really think about what would help that person’s life. Is it really that ceramic item with a funny slogan on it? Or is it a footbath, because they’d never do it for themself and their feet ache? When I asked myself what my dad really would want for Christmas last year, I knew that his parents were the answer. I can’t do that, sadly, but I could plant trees in their honor. If you find, after digging into your heart and thoughts toward the individual, that what they need is still an item, I hope you will be thoughtful about the items purchase and the best place to source it from to make sure that your purchase aligns with your truest ethics.
I recognize that it is hard to do this, shop consciously. That’s why I wrote this blog. We need this to be easier and I’m looking forward to making that happen, in the meantime I hope this information makes a difference. And, I’d love to know what organizations you purchase from. Let’s grow the good cause shopping list! Feel free to contact me, I look forward to it. Blessed be.