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The Spirit of Giving: Tips For Holiday Gifts
Dr. Dale V. Atkins, December 2008

Because the holidays are coming at a time when many people need to be more careful about spending, instead of feeling deprived, feel that the spirit of giving will enter a new and different sphere. Think of alternative ways to celebrate the holidays. Here are some tips get you started:

Charities - Consider giving to a charity in honor of your loved ones.

Services - Think of gifts as not only what comes in a box, but what you can do as a service for someone: cook five desserts over five months, or promise to babysit for six nights during the year. Think of what you do well and "package" that.

Family Lotteries - Participate in a lottery where each person is responsible for buying a gift for one person. Talk about what is a reasonable amount of money for children's as well as adults' gifts.

Vintage Stores - Look for unique, personal gifts in pop and vintage stores.

Neighborhood Gift Trade - Ask friends and neighbors if they would like to participate in a local gift trade where gently used toys, games and books are packaged and exchanged within the group.

Personalized Albums - Make a personalized photo album or scrapbook for a family member.

Experience Books - Take five or six pictures of a child or parent/grandparent and child participating in an activity and write a book about it. You can write captions on each page of "Beach Day" (photos or drawings of the person reading, strolling, building sand castles, splashing in the surf) or "Baking Cookies with Grandma" (photos or drawings of the duo sorting ingredients, mixing, dropping the batter onto the cookie sheets, putting the cookies in the oven, transferring them to a platter.) Your personal "experience books" are priceless and can become the beginning of a series.

Whatever you decide, when you wrap, be mindful of the environment. Wrap with recycled paper. Be creative with newspaper, fabric, and natural elements.

The challenge for the holidays is to be aware and grateful of what and who you have in your life. Share the spirit of the holidays, which is about peace, joy and gratitude.

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