Non-material gift ideas
Fair warning, this isn't your typical Christmas gift guide. I may publish a few other, more traditional gift guides, but I really feel that this guide has a strong and important message. While I absolutely ADORE Christmas, it is a time of year when we invariably contribute negatively to the planet in terms of more stuff and more waste. While it's wonderful to find the perfect gift for someone, this year I'm going to focus on gifting intangibles that nevertheless have a heart-warming impact on the receiver. As you'll discover, I've suggested a combination of gifts, which will hopefully help you in selecting the right one for each of your loved ones. You know them best, and you know that some people simply won't be thrilled to find that you have bought a goat on their behalf, while they may be overjoyed that you have bought them a massage. I believe all of my suggestions reduce our impact on the world, contributing in one way or another to a reduction in the overconsumption of stuff for the sake of having stuff. Enjoy! And do let me know your thoughts in the comments.
1. Gift a goat
Various charities are offering the opportunity to gift goats, chickens, cows, rice and many other valuable items to deprived families, and the positive impact is incredible. This gift is perfect for those who already live (or who wish to live) a more minimalist lifestyle, and who may get a good chuckle out of knowing that there's a pig with their name improving an impoverished family's chances somewhere in the world.
Is there a coffee and/or cake lover in your life? Why not buy them a voucher for their favourite local cafe? That way, their next few coffees will feel more like a treat and will give them that warm, fuzzy feeling, and they'll think of you. How wonderful is that!
Or maybe you know a yoga lover who favours a particular studio, or a rock climber who loves to climb at a specific gym. Why not pay for their next 5 sessions with a voucher?
Or perhaps there's a book lover in your circle. Instead of going straight to Amazon for their voucher, find a bookshop near where they live or work and get them a voucher there. Perhaps they've never been there before and you therefore end up introducing them to a new gem, or maybe it's an old favourite and they love an excuse to spend buy from there.
3. Gift a course
For someone in your life who loves to learn new skills, buying them a spot on a course is a fantastic gift. And there are so many options out there! Cookery, pottery, art, languages, flower arranging, dancing, self-defence, yoga, the list goes on! What has your loved one been meaning to take up but never quite got around to doing?
4. Pamper time
This is a great gift for everyone, regardless of gender or age. We all tend to skimp on relaxation and self-care time, so buying someone a treatment at a local spa will give them the nudge that they might not have been able to give themselves to go ahead and take an hour or two out of their busy week to unwind at your expense!
5. Red Letter Days
Remember them? Well, they still exist! Gift the thrill seekers in your life an experience they'll never forget. From driving fast cars to flying around in a stunt plane, there are so many to choose from, and they are definitely the kind of thing that most people wouldn't think to buy for themselves. Browse UK options here, or do a quick internet search for options in your country.
6. Magazine Subscription
Know someone who religiously picks up a copy of Vogue every month? Or maybe someone who loves to read a particular magazine but you get the impression doesn't like to splurge out regularly for it? Buy them a subscription! I know, this is material thing, but you can encourage them to recycle the magazine when they've finished reading, or you could purchase them the online and kindle/ipad version of the magazine to be super eco.
7. Museum/Art Gallery Membership
Seriously, trust me on this one, this is the PERFECT gift for someone that lives near an excellent art gallery or museum. I have been gifted membership to several art galleries in London, and it means that I can pop in and out of exhibitions whenever I feel like it without having to pay each time. Most memberships include a guest, so the recipient of this gift will be able to take a friend or family member along to enjoy the delights on offer. Search online for the best galleries and museums near where your loved one lives, or subtly ask them what their favourite gallery is.
8. Don't go Dutch
Invite someone to join you for dinner at their favourite restaurant, on you. I think the most straightforward way of giving this as a gift is to tell them that you'll be paying for their meal, but if you can figure out a way of not telling them until the end of the meal, you'll ensure that they order whatever they feel like without feeling bad that you're footing the bill. How often do people do that these days, other than in a romantic setting? And how much would you love it if someone said they wanted to buy your dinner?
Will you be giving any non-material gifts this year? Do you have any more ideas to add?