Christmas shopping. It's a task we all have to tackle once a year but when I started really thinking about the notion of gift giving I realised it’s very easy to go about it in a mindless way. I know we’re all busy and stressed and short on time, but if we slow down and really give the task our attention, the purchasing doesn’t have to be so stressful. Here are some tips and ideas to get you through the Christmas shopping period in a more mindful way, with a lot less stress.
Include your children
Do your children participate in the gift giving tradition or do you take over the reigns (pardon the pun!) and let them watch from the sidelines? Encourage your children to be a part of the gift choosing process – not necessarily the buying which can become more stressful with a few kids in tow. Making a list of people and a suggested gift for each is mindful and can be a fun task when shared with children. They have creative minds and you may be pleasantly surprised at their ideas for appropriate gifts.
Have you thought perhaps of starting a family tradition of your children giving their teacher a Christmas ornament, one that particularly suits their teacher’s personality? The gift itself is personal and mindful without the stress of every year trying to think something new to give. You could do this same thing, sticking with books, stationary, a gift hamper, a fruit basket; every year a variation of the same thing.
Pocket money and gift giving
If your children get pocket money they are probably old enough to buy gifts for significant people in their lives. It's a way to bring thoughtfulness for others into their mindset. I'm assuming if your children receive pocket money that their actual ‘needs’ are met and the pocket money is usually for ‘wants’. If we give them the opportunity to give gifts and use some of their pocket money towards this then their own 'wants' can take a more balanced and realistic place in their lives instead of centre stage.
Look at your extended family gift giving - if you have an extended family you buy for have you thought about trying Secret Santa? I love it and think it is a very mindful way of approaching the whole notion of gift-giving. In case you aren’t familiar with this idea, names are randomly drawn to give you a family member to buy for, this being the only gift they receive at the gathering. Only having that gift to buy allows you the luxury to engage in very authentic gift giving - thinking carefully about who you are buying for, carefully choosing paper and card and watching with joy as you don't receive a personal thank you but take pleasure in the joy your gift has brought the family member.
You might like to consider where you buy your gifts as an exercise towards a more mindful Christmas. This year I’ve decided I want to utilise my local markets whenever I can. I like the idea of engaging with and supporting people who have made the gifts, the gifts most likely will be unique and special and made with love and attention. This has the added bonus that I can avoid shopping malls which I absolutely detest! Market shopping also allows us to more mindfully consider and investigate what materials were used and it’s less likely that large transport and energy costs were involved. You can share this thought process with your children to discourage mindless consumerism and to spread goodwill in many directions.
Gifts for children
Gift giving to our children is a very personal issue and likely to be influenced by peer group pressure and advertising persuasion. When my children were young I certainly fell victim to the ‘fad’ gifts which often lasted a short time and were replaced with a desire for the next ‘fad’ by the next birthday or Christmas. I’m not suggesting it’s easy to abandon gift-giving of this nature for our children but maybe our goal can be to minimise them in favour of those that encourage more mindful interaction and play.
Some questions you could consider when buying for your children might include:
- Will it encourage them to play outdoors?
- Will they need to pay close attention to use it?
- Will it allow them to be creative?
- Will it encourage them to engage in quiet time?
- Will it lead to thoughtful interaction with others?
A mindful Christmas embraces many elements but a mindful parent will pass that to their children if they take the time to include them whenever possible and communicate the ‘why’ as well as the ‘what’ of Christmas gift giving!
If you're looking for conscious, positive gifts for children this Christmas, our children's book, Making Mindful Magic makes for the perfect gift for children of all ages - nieces, nephews, grandkids, godchildren, friends' children and your own kids!
Please place Christmas orders before Thursday 17 December (if you're in Australia) to ensure your present arrives before the big day!