The Awkward Holiday List Post

Gaiam.com, Inc

For convenience’s sake, I typically put my holiday wish list on my blog. This year, I am also making some recommendations for special gifts you might like to bring home for someone on your list.

Frankly, I am tired of feeding the giant corporate machine. I don’t need or want any more Stuff this year, and in these economic times, I can’t bear to think of anyone spending their hard-earned money on triviality.

How many times is the typical holiday shopper frantically scouring the malls or superstores at the eleventh hour, desperately trying to find some trinket that catches the eye, that conveys some kind of meaning or sentimentality? Sometimes, the mission is successful, and we find something the recipient will adore for a very long time, and use well. The best gifts may be the unusual and unexpected ones – among the best gifts we received last year was a bat house – although, we have yet to find a ladder tall enough to put it up!

Let’s face it – the typical “Holiday Shopping” ad has us believe the experience is this:

When we all know it’s more like this:

It seems that mostly, though, we could all do with less insanity, stress and clutter in our lives. I think too often, we end up with gifts that mean little to either giver or recipient, apart from the appreciation of the act of giving, of course.

This year, instead of Stuff or Things, I’d like Experiences or even Nothing At All. For those of you who might be planning on giving me holiday gifts this year, please know it is ok not to! My own gift-giving list this year will be smaller, and the items on it probably of a different sort. Even Mike and I have agreed not to spend more than $100 on each other.

I’ve always found the typical “I want this” list to be awkward and somewhat antithetical to what I want from the holidays. The part of gift-giving I enjoy is figuring out what would be special, useful, meaningful or pleasantly surprising for the recipient. Having a ready-made list just seems like… cheating. To me, a gift is more meaningful if it’s thought about. “Y’know, a couple of months ago, he said he’s always wanted X; I think I’ll grab that for him,” or “I know she likes to Y, so I’ll get her something Y-related.”

But I know that’s just my way of thinking about it, not everyone’s, and it’s not realistic for people we don’t see often. Others like to have a sure-fire, guaranteed list of things from which to select, thereby ensuring the recipient will be happy with his or her gifts. Nothing wrong with this. So, to make it easier on those folks in my life who operate this way, I give you (after happy Santa kitty chin scritches:)

Gifts I’d love this year:

The pleasure of your company, plain and simple. I keep myself fairly well hermited. The gift of getting out and socializing is very welcome.

Day- and weekend trip ideas.

Tidbits of personal memoirs; Write me a story about yourself – who and where you’ve been, how you’ve felt, how you have changed, what you’re thinking and feeling, and have thought and felt in the past. Short or long!

A tour of Michigan wineries.

Yoga class punch card

Yoga gift certificate

Private training session with Misty at Hilltop Yoga.

A photograph of yourself that you especially like.

A Barnes & Noble gift card

A gift certificate for a massage or Reiki.

The best piece of advice you have, written down.

Something you made with your own two hands.

If none of those things appeal to your inner gift-giver, then anything you want to give will be warmly received.

As I’ve been pondering what I want to give this year, I’ve come up with some pretty good ones, I think, and thought I would share. Here are some nifty ideas for meaningful gifts:

RedMaple Sportswear Co. – Mel and David are incredibly nice guys who sell great natural fiber clothing. Nothing like the gift of warm cuddlies for the cold winter months!

My friend Tammy has become a gourmet force to be reckoned with! She’s offering chocolates for December, and I am telling you – they are worth every penny and more.

Handmade stuff on Etsy – Support individual artists by buying through Etsy. The variety and creativity of items is overwhelming.

Heifer International – Empower families living in poverties with the gift of livestock donated in someone’s name.

Classes or seminars at your local college or extension service – be it birding, sailing, landscaping, botany, photography, or cooking, I bet someone you know has a passion for something taught at a local school.

Train, boat, helicopter or plane tours – sometimes it is really interesting to see even everyday landscapes from a new perspective.

Guided natural tours or tours of historic sites.

A personal training session with his or her favorite gym, tennis, yoga, golf or ski instructor.

Horseback riding lessons, or a simple day trail ride.

If your price range is generous, you may be able to arrange a ride in a historic aircraft at an air museum near you (or, if you just know the right people.) This will likely be fairly pricey.

Tickets to cultural events your recipient would appreciate, or season passes to a local venue. Scout the internets for local appearances by favorite bands, musicians, comedians, plays, NPR shows or personalities, authors, public speakers, cooks – anything you can think of – for a special evening out.

If your recipient is crazy about his or her pet(s), a pet massage, agility classes or herding lessons may be just the ticket.

Should you live with your recipient, and should that recipient be the primary cook, or house-cleaner, or child-bather, or cat-litter-changer, offer Get Out of It Free cards… provided the recipient in question won’t take offense. (Also, probably not a great idea for a primary gift – “Oh, you got me the gift of you doing the vacuuming for once? GEE THANKS.”)

Shop estate sales, antique stores or second-hand stores to find truly unique items.

Or, best of all, make something for your friends and family! Whether it’s knitting, sewing, decoupage, photography, quilting or cooking, a handmade gift carries more meaning and significance.

Hope this helps, and I’d love to hear your gifting ideas for the season!

Gaiam.com, Inc

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