The materialism associated with the holidays can leave us feeling empty and anything but full of good cheer. Conspicuous consumption leaves a mark on our budgets and worse, our psyches and souls. And yet, we’re urged to give-give-give! Arthur Brooks calls it the “Christmas Conundrum.” He writes:
We are supposed to revel in gift-giving and generosity, yet the season’s lavishness and commercialization leave many people cold. The underlying contradiction runs throughout modern life. On one hand, we naturally seek and rejoice in prosperity. On the other hand, success in this endeavor is often marred by a materialism we find repellent and alienating.
To avoid the “Christmas Conundrum,” consider the following ways to make this holiday season more meaningful:
1. Give An Experience
A dance class, a night at the theater, a membership to a museum like the The Metropolitan Museum of Art – all last longer than the short-lived excitement from something bought from a store.
2. By Hand & Heart
Bake something, draw something, create something. Personalized gifts that take time and effort mean more. You don’t need to be a superstar artist to reap the benefits of getting your hands dirty and creating something. Regardless of experience or talent, making art of any kind is a great stress reducer.
3. Give To Others
Studies show that kindness breeds kindness. It’s contagious, so pass it on. Kindness is the gift that keeps on giving. Make a donation in a loved one’s name. Two of my favorites are Citymeals-on-Wheels and Heifer International.
4. The Gift Of Time
There is nothing more valuable than time. A wonderful gift is the promise of quality time with someone you love. Ideas: Plan an evening with a friend or group of friends or make coupons for your children, like “This entitles you to 20 extra minutes at bedtime…”
5. Of-The-Month Gifts
Love times 12 and depending on whom it’s for, there’s a gift of the month for every kind: Limited Tory Burch Foundation Seed Box, FabFitFun Beauty Box, Bloomsy Box flower club, Boxwalla small batch snack box, Dry Farm low sugar organic wine subscription, Bark Box for your furry friend and Bespoke Post Box for the man in your life. It will be something they look forward to for an entire year.
6. Give Them What They Want
Christmas lists have power. People report more satisfaction and appreciation when they receive a gift they actually asked for rather than a surprise.
Above all, remember the wise words of the Grinch:
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more! – Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
I wish you all the best,
Dr. Samantha Boardman