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No Money for Gifts? Be Mindful Instead

By Kathleen Sinclair December 17, 2020 Lifestyle

The holidays always seem to come around when thy bank account is low. It never fails, extra bills make their way into my mailbox around November. I’m not claiming this from a negative position, I’m actually a fairly positive human being. However, 2020 has hit me a bit harder and tested my positive nature.

Aside from Covid and stay-at-home pressures, I made some unfortunate decisions and owe a ton of money to the IRS, had some family emergencies come up too, bills stacked pretty high. So what shall I do? First, I will release my complaining, next… I enter problem solving.

Looking at the Options

I figure I have two choices. Not paying my bills on time and making people happy, or take some deep breaths, get creative, pay the bills, and yes, find a way to give those gifts. A giver at hear, I don’t like the option of not being able to give gifts, it’s a punch in the gut to me. I also don’t like the idea of not paying my bills.

In the end, I came up with some different ways to give gifts this year by stepping into my mindful space.

First, I started thinking back to the gifts I had received in the past. I could remember the teddy bear I got from my grandmother at age 4, the set of tires from an ex-wasbund, a couple of pieces of jewelry I do not wear.

But wait, why do I only remember a handful of gifts that I had been given over my 75 years? I was having the same memory issue with the gifts that I had given over the years.

What Was That All About?

I love giving gifts and receiving them too, but maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t about the gifts themselves. Maybe it is more about what a gift represents or the experience it gives or offers.

The most memorable gifts that I have given and received have been more about the gathering, the laughter, the time together. And they all translated into being happy and having that nice soft warm feeling floating around in me.

This year, I decided that I want to be more mindful with my gift giving. The ideas I came up with don’t cost too much, if any, money at all. Maybe my time, energy, creativity, and elbow grease but hey, when I am feeling good, I have enough energy for at least 10 people.

Here are some things I came up with.

Write a Letter

Yes, write a letter to the person and tell them how much they mean to you and what you love about them. Even if you tell them you love them every day, sitting down and writing it out is a whole new level of love and caring. It doesn’t have to be long. Just heartfelt. Nice, memorable paper will go a long way too.

Time

Give them some of your time. Figure out what works best for both of you and make it worth it. Maybe that is taking them somewhere they love or having a FaceTime on the computer or watching their favorite TV show or movie with them.

You give them the time, and they decide what to do with it. And keep your word. You can also create a gathering or time spent together around a theme. If you are taking a walk, make it a “name the plants” walk. Facetime? 10 things I appreciate about life, this is a great way to make screen time more personable.

Memory Video

There are some fun apps out there that will put together a little video for you off of your photos. If you need photos for your video, then ask people to share some with you. Maybe these are videos of the pets or some other thing the person likes.

Get 20-30 photos and have a go. There is usually music you can choose and a format and length. Don’t make it too long but do have fun.

Write a Poem

A fun poem for a young person is to write out their name vertically on a piece of paper and then write a sentence about them starting with each letter. Try out a few and then draw it out on a piece of nice paper.

For someone who loves poetry, try some haiku. I used to write haiku on strips of brown paper grocery bags with permanent ink, punch a hole at the top and tie a loop of yarn through it. Then on my walks or hikes I would hang one on bushes or trees to be found by random passersby.

The paper lasts a long time, and the ink doesn’t fade. You could create something like this for the person’s yard.

Something of Yours

Give away something you love very much and that the person you are gifting has mentioned. This is a great way to declutter your own space at the same time.

Monthly Surprise

Give them a large envelope with 12 small envelopes inside. Fill each of the small envelopes with a surprise they can enjoy each month. Think of the seasons and what the person likes to do. Maybe have coffee outside at a favorite café, movie night with popcorn, walk, hike, phone call, etc.

Cook Their Favorite Meal

Use the good china, not paper plates. Candles, cloth napkins, dim light. Or maybe it is barbeque or breakfast. You cook what they want even if you don’t really like it.

As you can see, the sky is the limit here. Take a few minutes to sit down, breathe and get into your creative zone. Who needs money anyway? Mindful giving is by far the best way to stay connected and create everlasting memories. Happy mindful gifting!

Have you tried mindful gift giving? What were some things you did for your favorite people when you were on a very low budget? Please share your creative ideas below!

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The Author

Kathleen is on a mission to challenge “the heck” out of aging. She earned her Master's at 60, joined the Peace Corps at 63, and now travels the US with her trailer in tow. Her passion: motivating people over 60 to live a purposeful second half of their lives and reframe how they view aging.

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