Like in previous years, I'm sharing with you my annual gift guide. However, through 2015, I've become more serious about not letting myself be caught in consumer traps and the holiday season is the biggest of them all. This has been an evolving theme in my personal life and, you will know this by now, on the blog.
I considered not even mentioning gifts at all on the blog this year. How could I make suggestions of things to buy while simultaneously encouraging you to buy less? There are already plenty of bloggers out there encouraging you to go on that holiday shopping spree and cross off all those names on your list!
But then I thought that this is actually a really good opportunity to promote, once again, an alternative consumer mindset, that is not just about buying less but also about buying better.
So, instead of a neat list of shiny objects to choose from, I'm bringing you a guide for mindful gifting this holiday season and beyond.
Gifts don't just come in a box
Consider gifting your loved ones alternatives to consumer goods, for instance, your time and attention. You may find that sharing your time with others in meaningful interactions will be more rewarding to all involved.
It seems to me that we have bought into an ethos of the season that not only puts huge pressures to buy presents for everyone, but has also promoted the idea that presents can be a replacement for interacting with those "pesky" family members we don't even like that much.
But really, how much better would it be to decide to spend the precious time we have sharing moments with those we love?
Note: If you decide to not buy gifts this year, just make sure your family is aware of this and propose alternatives, such as a family trip, hike, picnic, or whatever you enjoy doing together. It may be a challenge to renegotiate long-standing family traditions and expectations. You should be able to explain your reasoning and suggest a different approach.
Gift-giving for mindful consumers
Sometimes though, we may well choose to engage in the custom of gifting. I've thought long and hard about how to find the perfect gifts as a mindful consumer. I came up with the following mindful-consumer tips which will help you navigate this season and beyond:
- Take time to really considering what the person will enjoy - they're more likely to appreciate and keep it.
- Don't buy, make it - think knitting, baking, floral and craft design, painting...Put your unique creative skills to good use and create something beautiful.
- If you're buying, look for local and independent artists and products. You'll be surprised to find how many wonderful makers are around you.
- If you're not buying local, choose to give your money to businesses who share the values you hold dear.
My personal choices for 2015
Finally, if you're trying to be a more mindful consumer you may have found that it takes a bit of work to find like-minded people/brands/businesses to buy things from. You see something you like but then you have to go and do this huge research exercise on who's selling it to find out if they share your values.
That's ok, it's part of the process. But if you're in a rush to find something in time for the holidays, I'll save you some trouble. I've been keeping a list and thought I'd finish this post by sharing some of my current favourites worldwide and locally (New Zealand and Australia).