Christmas is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world! It has both religious and cultural connotations. It is a Christian festival celebrating the birth of Jesus, and as Britannica statesacknowledges “mass” on “Christ’s day.” Natale, an Italian term, is a nod to nativity. Although denoted as “Christian”, the celebration of Christmas is secular and instead ‘marked by the exchange of gifts.’ With globalization and capitalism leading to changes in consumption, Christmas gifting has become more lavish. While this isn’t necessarily bad news (especially for companies – big and small that rely on seasonal revenue), it does increase the pressure to find the “perfect” gift. This detracts from the true spirit of Christmas: to give to others, without the expectation of getting in return.
2020: The year for a more thoughtful Christmas
Christmas 2020 is around the corner! With all that our world has gone through this past year (namely the Coronavirus), let’s celebrate by gifting more thoughtfully. Think quality over quantity. Think long and hard about what the people in your life would like, what their needs are and what they already have. How can you be more thoughtful with the gifts you give them? Think along the lines of conscious consumption. And think about how your gift can be distinctive (bring unique value into someone else’s life)! Whether gifting to your family, friends or a friend’s child…. this guide by Skillmatics will have you covered:
Skillmatics products: You knew this was coming. We are an educational games company for children after all, and really, what’s better than the joy of play? My favourites include our new TECH toy (Christmas edition!), Guess in 10 (Cities edition) and our write & wipe mats, such as the Animal Kingdom one. Here’s why: Our products are primarily paper-based, reusable and eco-friendly. If sustainability is on your agenda then you have the right company! We want to make sure that your gifting experience is hassle-free and uncomplicated. Choosing our educational games will ensure that the tiny humans (or teens) in your life are more engaged in the world of play & learning! They make great gifts because each product is a long-term investment for a family. The products have repeated play-value.
Nat Geo Subscription: National Geographic (for wildlife enthusiasts and anyone who likes animals, i.e. most kids!) is a superb resource for all things nature. One of my favourite presents as a child was my Nat Geo kids subscription. They operate across continents so you can subscribe from anywhere. Here’s why: It’s fun and easy to read. This gift will help children develop a love of reading and increase their knowledge about nature and wildlife. The photos in the magazine are of an outstanding quality for those who have an interest in photography! This is a great activity for parents and children alike.
- A Homemade Hot Chocolate Bar: Hot chocolate is one of those drinks that you could drink anywhere in the world during christmas time. For most, this is because of the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with each sip. This Christmas, bottle up that same feeling so that you can experience it all through the New Year! Here’s how: Set up a counter at home with mason jars (or other empty jars), drinking or baking cocoa (Cadbury cocoa is my favorite but try to invest in something high quality – taste matters here!), marshmallows (the mini-kind), maple sugar (caster sugar works too!), peppermint bark, cinnamon powder, toasted coconut and confetti (multi-coloured) sprinkles. Then you can either involve the person you’re gifting to (such as a parent, a friend or your child) and co-create or you can create for those you love keeping their favourite flavours in mind!
Customisable stationary: This is another quick and easy gifting idea! Use beautiful plain handmade paper, stamps, stickers, sequins and glue and create customisable stationary sets for friends and family. Packaging is important here. You could create a large envelope to gift the card & envelope sets or box them up with a ribbon and tag. Here’s why: The US postal service needs you. Deadpan jokes aside, although the US postal service really does need you (see this op-ed), this is a thoughtful and useful gifting idea! This will encourage fine-motor skills, creative writing and an expression of love/gratitude… no, seriously, what could be better? This is the dream gift for those with “verbal affirmation” as their predominant love language.
Book exchange: Last Christmas my family and I exchanged books instead of conventional gift giving, and we loved it! This gift-idea was so much more personal since it focused on the genres we were each individually interested in as well as our common interests as a family. Here’s how: Each member of the family participates. For instance, there are 3 other people in my house so I selected a book for my dad, one for my mom and one for my brother and then one for the four of us to enjoy together (e.g. a cookbook). Strand bookstore has great picks.
Fitness classes: This is a great way to encourage your loved ones to stay active. Besides, there are multiple personal trainers and small businesses that could benefit from this kind of thoughtfulness. Here’s how: Arrange a personal trainer or a Class Pass subscription you know they’ll love. Your treat and their endorphin kick for 2021 sorted! For your kids, this could mean the chance to sign up for a new class such as dance, swimming or gymnastics.
An experience: Gifting experiences somehow always feels that much more thoughtful. Especially ones that you can enjoy with a loved one! From arranging a picnic and making all the picnic foods yourself to setting up a candlelight dinner to planning a mini-getaway, experiences create lifelong memories. Here’s how: Now’s the time to look through Pinterest for creative ideas or think of your own! I like the Canva app/website for creating online “gift vouchers” that look graphic-designer level.
A spa hamper: This is perfect for anyone you know that needs a little r&r (rest and relaxation!). Pampering your loved ones should ideally happen yearlong but sometimes it takes Christmas to give us a little nudge to do so.Here’s how: You can either create homemade masks, scrubs and body balms (using shea butter, coconut oil and other house-friendly ingredients!) or you can buy products from your favourite local spa/lifestyle stores and then put together a customised version for your loved one. I adore Fresh products and Lush.
- Photo frames: Print your favourite pictures together in high definition and choose a tasteful frame you know they’ll adore. Here’s why: Pictures represent happy memories. It’s the kind of gift that will make them smile whenever they look at it. Maybe their office space needs a bit of cheering up or there’s a wall in their house that’s looking a bit bleak… this is the perfect opportunity to help them re-decorate!
- A ticket: This is a surefire way to make them smile. Whether it’s a ticket to a baseball game, a ticket to a movie, or paying for their commuter-rail pass for the entire year… they’ll be so grateful. This adds to my experience point earlier. Here’s how: Figure out what they need/want and then address it accordingly. The options are endless. You can pre-purchase and then give them a voucher/coupon on Christmas day! Present this inside an envelope or let them “unbox” it for a sweet surprise. You can even give them the option to auto-renew if you’re feeling extra generous and want to gift something that keeps giving.