Trading Out Gifts for Good

This time of year is an opportunity to notice what we give, how we give it, and how much we give and receive. In our latest blog post, we proposed that during this holiday shopping season, we consider how to shift our thinking- to temper our desires to join in the frenzy of consumerism displayed on Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store. “Maybe Christmas … perhaps … means a little bit more!” -Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas

It’s true there’s a ton of fun wrapped up in the tradition of presents, yet as you leave childhood behind you might be developing a new perspective on giving. Perhaps some questions are starting to come to mind: How much is enough when it comes to gifts? How can we (as a family or a culture) be shifting our focus from the “stuff” to simply the spirit of the holidays? This week we’re sharing some resources that will help motivate you to shrink your gift list, and then replace it with doing good instead.

How can YOU get involved? SIMPLE!

Step 1: Start your investigation. Revisit those warm fuzzy childhood feelings and read the picture book How The Grinch Stole Christmas. Or, for story that doesn’t specify a particular holiday, try The Gift of Nothing. These stories offer sweet and simple lessons about how the magic of the holidays go way beyond receiving presents. Next, watch The Story of Stuff. This offers you practical reasons for why accumulating more stuff just doesn’t make sense for ourselves and our planet.

Step 2: Make a pledge. When you limit your list this year, put it in writing. Snap a photo and share it on social media. Let others know you’re replacing gifts with good.

Step 3: Plan to do good. Take the idea to your community! You could organize an event like Santa’s Fix-It-Clinic held the Burbank Recycle Center every December where families can get help fixing toys they already have that are in need of repair. Design an Elf Workshop, but instead of making toys, create art from repurposed materials like the Makers at reDiscover Center. Make a list of skills and talents you and your friends have and distribute it to local senior centers to see if residents can utilize your talents in the new year. These are just a few ideas!

This holiday season, consider the saying “Less is more.” By helping your family limit their gift list, you can use the time you save shopping towards doing something meaningful for others. The possibilities for good are endless, and it all starts with asking for a little less this year.