Ashley is the gal behind The Anthropology of Giving- she is in the business of gift giving- curating the perfect gift for people to give to people and businesses to give to businesses. The first time we met Ashley for coffee, she handed over her business card and we knew this girl was rad. Each of her business cards are slightly different from the other with Ashley customizing each one- talk about attention to detail! With the new launch of her website, we wanted to highlight her work by asking her to write a piece on Mindful Giving- something we can forget this time of year.
The Holidaze can truly be a daze. They can go by in a complete blur, a tornado of chaos, leaving us dazed and confused to “wake up” in the New Year wondering where the time went, how we spent that time, and why we have a gigantic credit card bill to face. There’s no doubt it’s a busy time of year for most humans, full of obligations, some which can be super fun, and others that may be a challenge for our hearts and souls.
Small pauses make a HUGE difference.
Be present as much as possible, and it will be so much more enjoyable.
Speaking of presence, let’s talk about presents.
Starting with a quote by Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda (yes the cartoon from 2008) “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, that is why it iscalled the present.”
This statement applies all year around, but it can’t hurt to be reminded of this time of year.
Treating each day as a gift is an awesome way to get through busy times.
Keeping that in mind, let’s visit the concept of giving mindfully…
Here are my 8 tips for giving mindfully, and avoiding being consumed by the consumerism that is so prevalent over the Holidaze.
1. Genuinely think about the person you’re giving to.
The over-used statement “it’s the thought that counts” is only relevant if there was true thought put into the giving process in the first place. It’s really easy to get caught up in the madness, go out and buy something to get it off your list without thinking about the receiver.
Take some time to do this before you go shopping.
Who are they really? What are they all about? What do they love? What is meaningful to them?
It’s not about you. It’s about who you’re giving to.
(A little side-note here, this does not mean that because you know they like a really an extravagant brand of whatever, that you go purchase something way over your budget because you believe they will love it.)
2. It’s not about how much you spend.
It really isn’t. It’s about the sentiment, the thought behind it, the effort that went into the gift. There are so many things that can be put together on a tight budget. You’ll see some suggestions in the tips to follow.
3. The card.
I honestly believe the card is the most important part of any gift. It’s the juicy part, the personal and sentimental part. I like to make my own cards, which a lot of you may not have time for, and this is not necessary. But be sure to include some sort of written message with the gift (even if it’s on a post-it). If you struggle with what to write, spend some time googling quotes to find one that suits who you’re giving to.
The heart of this for me goes back to why you’re actually giving a gift in the first place, why you care about the person you’re giving to.
Handwritten correspondence is truly special, so much more than a text or an email. Putting pen to paper can be magic, and the receiver will feel the effort you made in doing so.
4. It doesn’t have to be a “thing”.
Some of the best and most unique gifts I’ve received are not things, they’re experiences that create memories. So much can be done around this premise… Ask yourself what would have a positive impact on the day to day life of the person you’re giving to?
Offer to cook them dinner, and send them home with left overs if they’re really busy and don’t find time to cook for themselves.
- Babysit for friends that have kids so they can go out on a date.
- If you have a car, and the person your giving to doesn’t, offer up a day of errands that they need a vehicle for.
- If your sister is always talking about running out of clean socks, do her laundry once every 2 weeks for three months.
I could go on and on, there are a zillion creative options here, but the key is follow-through; only commit to something you’re willing to actually do, and make sure you do it.
5. Shop local.
I’m a huge fan of supporting the movers and shakers in our own hoods. I like to know who made what I’m giving, and where it came from. Budget-wise this sometimes means the gift is smaller in size or quantity, as yes, things that are made here can be pricier, but not always.
I would rather give one pair of baby leggings made by a local designer, than a five piece outfit made in a foreign country under far from acceptable working conditions.
Shop small, shop local, shop consciously. It’s good for the soul, the planet, and all of us humans.
6. Give back.
I seek out companies that donate partial proceeds to charity, or are just generally doing good in the world. This is one of the foundations of The Anthropology Of Giving; every collection we put together gives to a specific charity. I put this ahead of profit.
Something to think about here is how the companies you’re buying from make their charitable donations. Sometimes it’s a percentage of profit, which means if the company as a whole isn’t making money, the donation will never be made.
There are lots of people doing good out there… Find them.
7. Where to shop?
Any mall at this time of year is my worst nightmare. There are so many amazing maker and craft fairs going on right now, that’s where I would recommend shopping. Not only will you find radtastic things, you get to meet the people who made said things.
Check out your local newspaper for a list of craft fairs taking place near you.
In Vancouver this weekend, there is one I love called Got Craft which is more than worth checking out (http://gotcraft.com)
8. Final test… Put yourself in their shoes.
Think like them and ask yourself “if I was (insert name of receiver here) would I LOVE this gift?”
I’m totally up for any gift giving questions.
Shoot them my way if you have some…