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Monday, December 5, 2011

How to Choose Meaningful Christmas Gifts

these guidelines work year round for all gift giving reasons and seasons
What is a Gift?
A gift is a present that is given freely to show favor towards someone or to honor an occasion,  The gift is for the giver to acknowledge the receiver. Gifts should not be bought off a list at Christmas. Gifts should be thoughtful and meaningful and the receiver should reply with a gracious response. When a gift is purchased with the purpose of crossing that person of the list to fulfill an obligation there is no joy behind it and it shows. Gifts even to children are chosen to make the child squeal with delight. More is not necessarily better when it come to gifts either.
Meaningful Gifts for the Kids
At our house Christmas Gifts are important. But more important than the volume of gifts is the meaning of the gifts. You see our children each receive just three gifts from Santa under the tree and five more from Santa in their Stocking. Because they do not get a boat load of present each one is designed to be more meaningful. I don’t remember when I started it but somewhere along the line the three gifts became one gift for Mind, one gift for the Body and one gift for the Soul.  In doing so I have been able to focus on what makes my kids glow. I work hard to get into their minds and hearts to find out their true desires, not just what their friends want or they happen to see on TV.
So how do you pick gifts for Body Mind and Soul?
To give you an idea of a body gift one year my son got a bike for Christmas, while his teenage sister got a pair of boots, and another sister got a basketball with gym clothes to go with it.  The body gift is a gift that is intended to benefit the body.
A Mind gift is one that encourages the development of the mind. In the past my children have received easels with paint sets, Legos,  and a small sewing machine. The mind gift is one that encourages them to develop the gift of their minds, as they get older the gift changes and is developmentally appropriate.
The Soul gift can be the hardest one for me to identify each year. It is that secret desire that only Santa can know, even without the kid telling Santa. This is the gift that really touches them. The soul gift is one that might just touch on their spiritual side.
Why Meaningful Gifts?
I am not sure when we decided to limit ourselves to three gifts each. I certainly know it was not our first Christmas married. I went a little overboard that year. Having our own place I bought gifts for the the town house. I am sure I over bought for our families too. My husband came from a family where it was the quantity of gifts that counted, and count they did. All presents were passed out from under the tree to each person and placed in a pile next to them. Then each person would take their turn opening one gift each while holding it up so everyone could admire the gift and thank the giver. As someone who sat on the floor at these family Christmas events I remember the piles being taller than I was (in a seated position).  In my husband’s family each gift was wrapped separately, so an outfit would have its socks. shirt and pants each wrapped separately.
Why Three Gifts?
Because of the experience at my husband’s Christmas gatherings, we made the decision to limit ourselves to three gifts. Why you ask? Well there is a simple answer to that. Christ himself received just three presents.
Meaningful Gifts for Adults
When it comes to picking gifts for my husband I follow the same guidelines. We limit ourselves to three gifts each and I do my best to find one his Body, Mind, and Soul.  This year he has asked for black socks. It seems Deacons go through a lot of black socks. This would be a body gift. As for a mind gift in the past I have gotten him books to compliment his growing library. Soul gifts are sometimes something spiritual and sometimes something that just makes him smile and know that I do listen to him.
Meaningful Gifts for Others
The concept of the meaningful gift can go beyond the immediate family. Each year I take care to get a meaningful family gift for our brother’s families. Buying a family gift allows me to stretch the budget and save my sanity all at the same time. While choosing a family gift for our in-laws I take care to choose something that will be used or is relevant. One year I did family arts and craft kids, another year was a ‘Green Christmas””.
Meaningful gifts for others can also translate to all those people that touch our lives in so many ways, teachers, priests, clergy, secretaries, babysitters, hairdressers. Before you give them another mug take a moment and think about what they may like to receive.  Some years we do bake or make something for our teachers but we try to make something they can use in their classroom. If we bake we keep in mind that most teachers are receiving lots of homemade goodies at this time of year and try to make something really worthwhile for them.
What about Stocking Stuffers?
As you can imagine I am not a fan of the dollar store generic stocking stuffers. But since this is getting long you will have to come back for stocking stuffer ideas later.

In order to give a meaningful gift you need to know the recipient. While you might enjoy nothing better than to go to the big game and see the local team win, does your recipient prefer sitting in a coffee shop and reading a good book? If so, then tickets to the big game may not be a good fit for them, but a new mug with the latest best seller and a gift card to their favorite coffee shop would be a great gift. Giving meaningful gifts does not mean giving gifts that you would like to receive or gifts that can be found at the corner store. A meaningful gift is a thoughtful gift. Remember what you mom told you it is the Thought that counts.
What are some of your favorite meaningful gifts to give and receive?


Amy said...

I love this Body, Mind, Soul idea! I might just use it for some of my family this year.

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Thanks Amy! I wish I could say I came up with the Body Mind and Soul gift idea but I know I adopted it from some where. It works great for adults too.It really keeps me on target for getting my shopping done too.

Ann Seeton said...

Excellent!! I'm going to incorporate some of this in my efforts. You really give a nice shape to something I've tried to do.

robbie @ going green mama said...

I love the body, mind, spirit idea, though I haven't quite gotten there yet!

Lisa - the Granola Catholic said...

Thanks Robbie, such a simple thing to do but it does require some thinking to make sure I cover all of my requirements.

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