Monday, July 4, 2011

challenge: a year of meaningful giving

It's Toy Sale time in our parts. We are inundated with thick, glossy catalogues and loud, jingly ads, reminding us The Sale starts at midnight! Grab your bargains! Lay-buy for Christmas!

I have gifting fatigue.

I have, in the past, enjoyed watching my (then) three-year-old eldest peruse the catalogues. He called them 'comics' for the longest time, and I thought that he was developing early reading skills by looking closely at the little details, turning the pages and so on. This year, when the Toy Sale catalogues arrived, I hid them. I have, in the past, dropped the children at Grandma's so that the hubby and I could fill a trolley (and then some) at the Toy Sales, stocking up on Christmas and birthday gifts for the coming year for the beautiful children in our lives. It just made economic sense, right? Well, it would, if I wasn't staring in exasperation at the giant pile of toys that our own children have, and can't possibly play with all at once. I know I'm not the only one in my circle of friends with a too-many-toy issue. Yet we keep giving each other's kids more toys?

I have, in the past (like, last week!), given money to a loved one, saying 'Use this to have a massage or something'. Because I didn't have time to organise a gift properly. Didn't have time? To think about my loved one a reflect on something that would make them happy, and go to the effort of presenting it nicely? Lovely.

My fatigue is around the process of giving, and how meaningless it has become for me. I was so excited last year to have our family come and spend a meal with us in our new home at Christmastime, I couldn't have cared less about gifts. My mum got so frustrated with me, "You HAVE to tell us something you want!" This is not how I remember the joy and excitement around receiving a gift when I was a kid. For me, the gift is in the process that the giver has undertaken, to think about you, and want to shower love on you.

When I think about it like that, I have been failing in giving. I have lost the process.

So. Today, I am going to undertake a challenge. I am going to address the next twelve months with meaning in mind. When it comes to giving a gift to someone I love, I am going to recapture the true essence of giving. When approaching the task of choosing a gift, I will consider the following criteria:

1. Handmade. A gift that I make myself is easily the most thoughtful. It is layered with effort and love.

2. Recycled/ Upcycled/ Second-hand. This may be a little trickier. Whilst I am very happy to wear and used second-hand goods, others may not be so comfortable. But I am determined to have a go anyway, and perhaps give second-hand selectively.

3. Toxic-free. I am really new to this consideration, so there will be a lot of research in this area. Basically, I will make the effort to choose products containing the least possible toxins.

4. Ethically-produced. Again, this is a new area for me. I am looking forward to giving gifts that support sustainability and human rights.

5. Beautifully presented. I am ashamed that recently, the best I have done by way of presenting gifts has been to shove it in a bag and hand it over with an apologetic shrug. I can do better than that.

Wow, looking at the criteria in writing makes me realise that this is going to be quite a challenge indeed. Please understand that I hail from suburbia, where time disappears under bright fluorescent lights as you roam aisles in strategically-stocked department stores, buying noisy objects someone else tells you that you need. My habits are going to be hard to crack, but I am determined that I can give gifts that are meaningful.

Will you join me in this challenge?

PS These photos are from my golden era in gift-receiving, and were taken by my dad.


  1. Beautiful idea and one which I am considering embracing myself this year. Except I reckon I'll be really shite at it and Christmas will be a bomb as a result... I will get over it, I promise. x

  2. This is a fabulous concept. Thanks for giving me the poke I need! J x

  3. I love this challenge. To give with meaning. To give in a way that is meaningful to us, and to the recipient. Great....but tricky stuff! Thanks for challenging us all on Rewind Weekend to be more thoughtful.

  4. This is a great concept. I am doing a Buy Nothing New challenge this year and it is the gift-giving that I find the hardest. I am happy with second hand but are others? Make sure you share your gift ideas with us all! Thanks for Rewinding x



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