5 Non-Material Holiday Gift Ideas

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christmas finger puppets kiss

There’s more than one way to give a gift. When the holiday season comes around, it seems like everyone is rushing to their local “big box” store to take advantage of deals and contend with the rush to put those presents under the tree. For those who want to be more mindful about gift-giving this holiday season, here are some suggestions.

1. Micro-loans

When the Victorian author Anne Isabelle Thackeray Ritchie coined the proverb about the value of “teaching a man to fish,” she was talking about the goodness of giving people new opportunities. The modern practice of micro-lending lets people give relatively small amounts of money, sometimes as little as just a few dollars, to help someone in a developing nation start a business.

Giving a micro-loan in someone else’s name is an excellent gift that connects a loved one to a worthy stranger’s success.

2. Experiences, not things

Sometimes a present doesn’t come wrapped up and in a box and bow. Consider crafting a special experience for your loved one instead of buying them an object this holiday season. A night on the town, a surprise trip, or something more quirky like a flash mob will be much more memorable than a toy or trinket. Make sure to take pictures so you can look back and laugh for years to come.

3. Lessons

This one actually covers many of the items on this list. Giving the gift of lessons for dance, a musical instrument, art, or other skill supports local businesses and offers a unique experience. Lessons are good gifts for people of any age and it also shows that you really know the gift’s recipient. Pay attention to what this person would want to learn and give them the opportunity to self-improve. Nothing could be of higher value than that.

4. Go local

When you choose to spend your money locally by investing in small, local businesses, you also support your community. For those lessons, or spa treatments, or day-out excursions to local sites that you thought about above, sourcing these gifts in your own neighborhood adds a little something extra to a meaningful gift.

By buying from local businesses, you’re also giving the gift of awareness. You’re introducing your loved one know to a nearby resource they may not have thought to visit before. Who knows, you may even introduce someone to their new favorite thing, and new friends in local vendors too!

5. Holiday DIY

Homemade gifts aren’t just a way for kids to surprise their parents. You can take the time to craft a special hand-made gift you know the recipient will love. It could be a simple decoration, or something more practical like a storage rack, an organizer, or homemade ceramic dinnerware. While everyone else is fighting the crowds for toys, clothes, and electronics, you can take your time at the craft store looking for DIY gift supplies.

You don’t have to storm the mall this year to give someone you love a meaningful gift. This holiday season, you can go beyond the labels and the trends. By selecting gifts with love, attention, and creativity, you can make the holidays especially warm and meaningful for everyone on your shopping list.


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Cate Morgan-Harlow

Cate Morgan-Harlow is an all arounder, writing about how-to, DIY, and design with gusto. She is a shadowy figure with a mysterious past.