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Creating Space with Mindful Gift Giving

Lean into joy and sustainability this holiday season


Creating Space with Mindful Gift Giving

It’s that special time of year. Ginger cookies are baking, Christmas trees are decorated, Hanukkah candles are lit, and twinkling lights are hung outside. The only thing left on your holiday to-do list is … gifts!

Through the month of December, calendars are probably full of gatherings with family, friends, and colleagues. Along with the merry enjoyment of food, drink, and togetherness, the practice of gift giving is an enduring one.

But finding that perfect gift for everyone on your list can be one of the most stressful parts of the holidays. And what about reducing costs? Or using more environmentally friendly wrapping? If gift giving feels like a chore this year, you might want to reimagine the practice of giving gifts into a meditative process.


Change your mindset

Finding the right gifts can too often spiral into an expensive, stressful pursuit. You might benefit from changing your mindset, both personally and collectively—as individuals, families, and friend groups. Mindful gift giving creates stillness, joy, and peace during the holiday season.

By following practical tips for finding the perfect thoughtful gift for everyone on your list, you can return to the essentials of gift giving: caring for your loved ones, yourself, and your community.

Involve others by discussing what works for you, your family, and your friends. Draft some gentle rules to make gift giving easier this year. For example, agree to a price limit on gifts or commit to recycled or repurposed gifts only.


Choose the right gift

Once you’ve made a plan, how do you choose just the right gift, one that represents your appreciation of the other? Finding the perfect gift encourages you to contemplate the person and their specific needs.

Tap into the needs of the recipient, whether it’s a tangible need or an emotional one. For instance, you could give a piece of kitchen equipment you know they’ve been dreaming of. Or you might write them an encouraging letter of support and gift your time to chat and connect over a cup of peppermint mocha or gingerbread latte.

Are they young and in need of clothes, books, or home essentials? Are they a parent who’d love to receive simple services, such as babysitting, as presents? Or perhaps your list includes elderly family members or friends who live alone and would benefit from your presence as a heart-warming holiday gift.


To spend or not to spend

Whether or not to spend money on gifts—and how much—is a choice influenced by your own situation and the plan you’ve made with those on your gift-giving list.

If your gift-giving plan with family and friends allows for it, and you have a few big gifts in mind, consider buying from local artisans to keep your money circulating in your community. By spending locally and supporting independent stores and boutiques, the money you spend on your holiday gifts will benefit countless people. Now that’s the holiday spirit!

When a spending limit is part of your plan, you can enjoy letting go of the pressure that comes with spending a lot of money on gifts. Your giftees will appreciate other forms of giving—whether your gift is your time or your creativity.

Are you a talented baker? Tasty holiday cookies could fill your kitchen with delicious aromas all month long. Do you enjoy hosting? You might organize a gift exchange where everyone brings something they no longer need. The opportunities are as vast as your imagination.


Create thoughtful packaging

A cup of eggnog, a toasty fire, and … a mountain of trash? Traditional gift wrapping often leads to a pile of used paper and tape, destined for the recycling bin or landfill. At a time when many of us are increasingly conscious of our ecological footprint, it’s a good time to explore more sustainable options.

For example, reusable natural fabrics such as organic cotton, linen, wool, or jute have a low carbon footprint—and they last longer. You can source pretty fabric wrapping to be reused and regifted from year to year. Decorate your beautifully wrapped gifts with natural decorations including sprigs of lavender or small boughs of aromatic fir, spruce, or pine.


Giving the gift of health

Do you have someone on your gift-giving list who’s passionate about natural health and wellness? Perhaps someone who’s familiar with alive’s devotion to editorial integrity and the empowerment of those we touch to make healthy, natural, and sustainable lifestyle choices?

We have the perfect gift! During this season of giving, alive is offering 2-for-1 subscriptions to alive magazine. Just follow for more information on our subscriptions page—and sign up!


Short on time, big on joy

Tight on time, but still want to explore conscious gift giving? Consider visiting a local holiday craft fair near you, where you might find all your gifts in a single afternoon from a variety of local vendors.


The joy of sustainable gifting

According to Zero Waste Canada, Canadians generate 545,000 tonnes of waste every Christmas—just from gift wrapping and packaging. If every Canadian opted for upcycled wrapping materials (rather than new) for at least three of their holiday gifts, we could help save enough paper to cover 45,000 hockey rinks.


This article was originally published in the December 2023 issue of alive magazine.



No Proof

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Matthew Kadey, MSc, RDMatthew Kadey, MSc, RD