What to Give Someone Who Doesn't Need Anything

Christmas is a time of giving to our loved ones. But what do we do if they don't want or need anything? Here are some simple, easy ways to give from your heart.  

Alison Ramsey for RD.ca

A startling eight of every ten Canadians would happily swap “a meaningful gift that would help someone else” for the usual package under the tree, according to an Ipsos-Reid poll released in November.  

The poll, commissioned by World Vision Canada, reveals that 77 percent of us say we don’t need anything at all. That holds true even for the majority of families earning less than $30,000 a year.

But it’s difficult to break the habit of gift giving. Holidays spark a craving to show affection or simple thanks. Even the founder of the Buy Nothing Christmas campaign, Winnipegger Aiden Enns, believes wholeheartedly in gifts. “Giving is a recognition that we need each other emotionally, physically and spiritually. Christmas is a special time when we demonstrate our love by giving.”

That’s no excuse, however, for rampant consumerism, adds Enns. Happily, there’s a sleighload of gifts from the heart to delight even those who say they want nothing at all.

Here are some alternatives to the “gaily wrapped present under the tree”:

Share Your Memories
The most cherished Christmas gifts are those with special meaning: things that remind the recipient of the person who gave it. It doesn’t cost a lot to give from the heart:

• Pass along a possession that the recipient admires.

• Copy out a prized recipe (with a sample attached!).

• Select a book, poem or compilation of songs that remind you of your friend or family member – and attach a note telling them why.

• Gather family recipes, stories or photos, or an older relative’s memories, and compile them in a scrapbook or on a DVD.

• Give a boxful of your more outlandish (or outdated) clothes and costume jewelry to create a little girl’s dress-up treasure trove.

Introduce Them to Something New
When the idea of looking for another “dust gatherer” gets you down, turn to a gift that takes up no room at all: a new experience.

• Book your adventurous adolescent a lesson in snow-boarding, skiing, horseback riding, kayaking, or rock-climbing.

• Introduce a friend to a sport you love – squash, for example – along with a promise of post-activity refreshments and chat.

• Women –young or not-so-young – might enjoy a professional makeup lesson, a pedicure or a new hairstyle.

• Introduce a young child to the art of collecting. Start them off with a newly minted coin or a series of stamps that you can add to each year. Or introduce them to the idea of savings by opening an education savings plan in their name.

A startling eight of every ten Canadians would happily swap “a meaningful gift that would help someone else” for the usual package under the tree, according to an Ipsos-Reid poll released in November.  

The poll, commissioned by World Vision Canada, reveals that 77 percent of us say we don’t need anything at all. That holds true even for the majority of families earning less than $30,000 a year.

But it’s difficult to break the habit of gift giving. Holidays spark a craving to show affection or simple thanks. Even the founder of the Buy Nothing Christmas campaign, Winnipegger Aiden Enns, believes wholeheartedly in gifts. “Giving is a recognition that we need each other emotionally, physically and spiritually. Christmas is a special time when we demonstrate our love by giving.”

That’s no excuse, however, for rampant consumerism, adds Enns. Happily, there’s a sleighload of gifts from the heart to delight even those who say they want nothing at all.

Here are some alternatives to the “gaily wrapped present under the tree”:

Share Your Memories
The most cherished Christmas gifts are those with special meaning: things that remind the recipient of the person who gave it. It doesn’t cost a lot to give from the heart:

• Pass along a possession that the recipient admires.

• Copy out a prized recipe (with a sample attached!).

• Select a book, poem or compilation of songs that remind you of your friend or family member – and attach a note telling them why.

• Gather family recipes, stories or photos, or an older relative’s memories, and compile them in a scrapbook or on a DVD.

• Give a boxful of your more outlandish (or outdated) clothes and costume jewelry to create a little girl’s dress-up treasure trove.

Introduce Them to Something New
When the idea of looking for another “dust gatherer” gets you down, turn to a gift that takes up no room at all: a new experience.

• Book your adventurous adolescent a lesson in snow-boarding, skiing, horseback riding, kayaking, or rock-climbing.

• Introduce a friend to a sport you love – squash, for example – along with a promise of post-activity refreshments and chat.

• Women –young or not-so-young – might enjoy a professional makeup lesson, a pedicure or a new hairstyle.

• Introduce a young child to the art of collecting. Start them off with a newly minted coin or a series of stamps that you can add to each year. Or introduce them to the idea of savings by opening an education savings plan in their name.

Lend a hand, lighten someone’s load, share an experience, or teach them something new—it’s like giving twice, as they appreciate not only the gift but the time you spend with them in giving it. With our busy schedules today, taking the time to enjoy each other’s company can be the best gift of all.

• Offer to babysit, walk the dog, clean the house, wash the car, shovel the walk, wash the windows – whatever help they would appreciate.

• Give chits for massages to erase the day’s accumulated stress, walks that wind up at an ice cream parlour, or a movie or game night featuring their favourite snacks.

• Snag tickets to a movie, play or sporting event.

• Pass along a skill with a lesson in carpentry, figure skating, juggling, ice fishing, crocheting, photography, fudge-making, yo-yoing – anything that sets you apart.

Community Spirit
Scrooge got it right in the end. You can spread Christmas cheer by reaching out into the larger community.

• Pre-teens and teens may appreciate helping younger children. You can make a donation in their name to World Vision Canada (www.worldvision.ca) or Free the Children (www.freethechildren.com) to supply kids in a developing country with medical aid, schools, teachers and clean water. Closer to home, $25 buys a backpack filled with school supplies for a low-income child living in Canada.

• Round out your holiday activities by volunteering to serve a meal at a homeless shelter. Or answer the call from a local church or community organization to deliver Christmas baskets to the needy.

And remember: Despite being bombarded with ads for pricey techno-driven goods, children still appreciate the love inherent in handmade gifts. “We’ve been lured into thinking that the perfect thing is better than the handmade thing,” says Enns, “when the fact is that the character-laden homemade gift is better because of the love and care that goes into it.”

 

 

 


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