Gift giving is an integral part of life for many, whether for birthdays, holidays, or just to say “I am thinking of you”. Throughout history, individuals have been shaped by the giving (and receiving) of gifts. Giving to others is such an important part of American culture that The Smithsonian National Museum of American History has an exhibit entitled Giving in America .
During December, gift giving can be very overwhelming, not only to our budgets, but to our peace of mind as we strive to find the perfect gift at the best price, and we brave the holiday crowds and online frenzy. Our choices are often vast and varied, and this can often lead to a sense of mindlessness to our gift giving. Wouldn’t it be great if we could enjoy some mindfulness in the midst of the season?
“Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally,” says John Kabat-Zinn. “It’s about knowing what is on your mind.”
To be more mindful in gift giving, it is important that we take a deep breath and reflect on who we are giving to, what are their interests, what we are giving, and why we are giving. By answering these “W’s” when choosing gifts, finding the perfect gift for that special someone becomes less mindless and more mindful.
Dr. Jennifer Wienberg shares six ways to practice mindful giving. The descriptions are from my own experience.
- Give to Yourself First Take time to renew yourself before heading into stores, online, or to the party. Your mental well-being can make or break any gifts chosen, given, or received.
- Plan Ahead Make a list, and check it twice.
- Give Presents of Presence Make coupons for one-on-one time with your loved ones for games nights, their favorite meal, or another hobby you both enjoy.
- Share from the Heart Make a gift for someone that will also rejuvenate you. Do you enjoy sewing, knitting, painting, music, woodworking, or something else?
- Personalize It What is your favorite memory with the person you are giving to? Incorporate this memory in your gift.
- Create Mindful Traditions Our family has some traditions that make gift giving more fun—like new socks, new pajamas, a new ornament, or a new book. It is fun when the gift reflects the personality of the receiver. Even though we may know that socks, pajamas, ornaments, and books will be under the tree, each person receives something that is of interest to them.
As you give this holiday season and beyond, remember these words from Mother Teresa, “It’s not how much we give but how much love we put into giving.”