Gift giving is difficult for a lot of people. Time usually flies, and before you know it, you have a birthday party, a wedding or a baby-shower coming up. You have no idea what to get this person, and you end up buying them some random knickknack, gag-gift or a gift certificate. Imagine going through this as a non-consumer (meaning you don’t buy anything new.) It must be awful, right? No… not really. In fact I think it has made me a much better gift giver. Let me tell you how.
First of all, as a non-consumer, you tend to be more aware of the real value of things. You realize stuff itself hardly has any value, whereas things people put time, thought and effort into, are most valuable.
Secondly, you know how junk and knickknacks can clutter your life and actually take away some of your freedom. You don’t want this for yourself and so you won’t want it for those you love. This is why you will not buy them things that won’t improve their life somehow. This is what makes you a better gift giver.
So what sort of gifts do you get people? Well it really depends on the person and the occasion. But and important pointer is to remember people will have birthdays eventually, and X-mas won’t be skipped this year either. When you come across the perfect gift for someone at a thrift-store or second hand website, just buy it, even if their birthday, or holiday is months away. You likely won’t get an other opportunity like this in the mean time, so go for it. Always stay on the lookout for good gifts. Trust me, they’ll thank you.
An other good method for gift giving is to find out how your skills can benefit this person. Can you help them fix their backyard? Can you paint them something personal, or sew them a purse? If you don’t know the person that well, baking is a guaranteed success (Check if they have allergies first.) You can bake them a cake, or cookies, muffins, anything really. By choosing this way of gift giving, you let the person know you’re willing to spend time and effort, and I think it makes for a much more meaningful gift.
Lastly, there’s the experience. Giving someone an experience can be so much more meaningful than giving them stuff. Buy them movie tickets, take them skydiving, or to the ballet. Do some activity together, or get them something they can enjoy on their own, like a spa treatment, or a magazine subscription. The possibilities are endless.
If you’re wondering what sort of gifts I’ve been giving since I started the compact. I got my mother in law a second hand candle holder with some candles, to help finish the livingroom she’d been redecorating. I got one of my friends a very old, second hand, tin viking bar-set I found online. He’s really into viking reenactment, so this was perfect for him. And it was still in its original packaging!
My sister in law got a very special gift. For her birthday, I gave her an antique necklace that had belonged to my grandmother. She has always liked it, and I let her borrow it for her graduation. I figured I wasn’t going to wear it, and I’d rather give it to someone who genuinely appreciates it.
When I started school, I got a brand new Samsung tablet. I considered selling it, since I already had one, which worked just fine, even if it was slightly older, and we could use the money. But then I realized my brother didn’t have one, and he’d be thrilled to have it. And so I held on to it, and gave it to him for his birthday.
For Bas’ birthday, I asked friends and family to chip in, and we bought him a Weber barbecue (Second hand, good as new.) Since he’d been talking about getting one for years, he was really thrilled!
And just last week, Bas got one of his friends tickets to go to a wrestling match together, since this is a hobby they share, and it let’s them spend more time together.
As you can see, our way of gift giving takes a lot more time and work, but in the end our gifts are much more personal and meaningful. Wouldn’t you much rather get a gift like this? Now you see why non consumerism doesn’t have to get in the way of your social life, and can even make it better.
I hope I’ve inspired you to be a better gift giver from now on. Or maybe you’ve always been doing it like this. What are some non consumer gifts you’ve given your friends and family? Share them in the comments.