The important things are rarely actual things

by Diana Solomon

'Tis the season to be jolly. And shop (more) mindfully.

According to studies, people on average spend half of their salary on Christmas presents. And if you count the job deadliness in the month of December, the traffic and the `Shop Now` campaigns, it is easy to imagine why most of us become stressed before the Holidays.

Even if the idea of a gift is to brings you joy, sometimes it can also be overwhelming.

Therefore, to avoid the shopping madness, you can follow a minimalist approach of gift-giving:

  • Don’t buy something just because it is discounted
  • When in doubt, bake (or go to the local bakery if you are not so confident in your skills)
  • Try to visualise how the person can use that gift and the joy it brings - do not bother others with unnecessary gifts
  • Find a balance - do not contribute to excessive consumerism

Maybe a frugal Christmas seems a little extreme, but here are some tricks to help you:

  • buy from local designers/stores and, if possible, customise your gifts (ex: a family illustration, a Christmas decoration inscribed with the name of the recipient)
  • say yes to fleet fairs and choose a scarf tied by a grandmother’s friend instead of a scarf from the mall
  • offer consumables, such as tea or a bottle of wine
  • to avoid material things, think of giving experiences: a ticket to a concert or a course subscription
  • create traditions: bake a pie, watch Christmas movies, go ice skating

But, let’s not forget that Christmas spirit is more than that. So, perhaps, instead of thinking of gifts to buy for your family, give them a call. Or better, pay them a visit. Presence is the best present.

Share your gifts. If you do no like what you got this year, instead of hiding it in the corner of your closet, you can give to someone who will enjoy it or who can not afford it.

Also, a true Santa’s helper will not just think about his loved ones. Therefore, maybe this year you will consider a donation. Money for a good cause, blood for someone in need, toys and sweets for the kids, your time (volunteering).

We know that Christmas has a different meaning for each of us, and we also know that it is not just about buying gifts. You do not have to enrol to mindful consumerism movement, but just to be kind, generous with others and yourself, and present.

Ergo, as much as you can, try to avoid gift-giving out of obligation and simply enjoy the holidays.