An Intentionalist's Holiday Gift Guide

We have enough clutter in our lives as-is. The best gifts fill a void or create joy, they are not supposed to be an impersonal checkmark on a checklist.

The holidays can be overwhelming for a multitude of reasons. We find ourselves spending so much time focused on consumerism and less on being present around our loved ones and reflecting on the true meaning of the season. Now, don’t get me wrong—I love decorating for Christmas and finding the perfect gifts for my favorite people. This is not meant to be a Scrooge moment. I thought it might be helpful to compile a list of ways to remain intentional during a season often mistakenly focused on the material things.

Do not try to keep up with the JonesEs.

For the competitive type, there is a HUGE temptation to be the best year-round, but the holidays seem to exponentialize this. Whether you feel the need to be the best hostess, give the best gifts, or have the best decor, it’s important to remember that the holidays are about people, not things. The goal to serve others through caring about these things can get lost among the clutter, so keep your eye on the prize. The memories created during the holidays are the most valuable.

Do not overspend to prove your love to someone.

This is never a good idea. If money is tight, talk with your friends, family, or significant other about a spending cap, spending time together instead of spending money, or even making gifts for each other. Chances are they’ll be understanding or even relieved because they’re in the same boat. Once you’ve discussed, plan ahead to make sure the right amount of money is set aside ahead of time if needed and stick to your price points as closely as possible. The people who truly love you will love you regardless of your gifting abilities.

Don’t be afraid to ask for gift ideas or give gift ideas (when asked).

There’s something to be said for giving the right kind of gifts to someone, whether it be something that fulfills a need or something that gives lasting joy. No one wants to give a gift that sits in the bag for months post-holiday because the recipient has no use for it. The same goes for receiving. We have enough clutter in our lives as-is. The best gifts fill a void or create joy, they are not supposed to be an impersonal checkmark on a checklist. If you don’t know what would mean the most, there’s no shame in asking.

Don’t mistake junk for a “deal”.

This is a lie I still fall for from time-to-time. There are so many sales this time of year, the markdowns can blind us. It’s important to evaluate the true value of the item considered for purchase rather than being deceived by the shiny price tag. Is it something your loved one will cherish? Remember, they won’t get the bargain shopping high you got from finding the “good deal”.

Focus on experiences rather than things.

While this bit of advice is nothing new, it doesn’t cease to ring true. Is there a gift you can give that would double as a gift of quality time, like a weekend trip? Has your loved one been wanting to learn a new hobby, and is there a class pass you could give to encourage them? Has your best friend had a few hard months and could really use a relaxing pedicure or massage? That kind of thoughtfulness is truly meaningful.