Consume Less, Give More!

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by Donna Mazzitelli

The holidays can bring tremendous joy and gratitude for the abundance in our lives. They can also be a time of overwhelming stress as we attempt to create wonderful memories and meet everyone’s expectations. Adopting more personal holiday gift-giving practices can be a good solution for our psyche, pocketbook, and the environment.

Looking back at what our ancestors did can help us make better choices today. They made good use of Mother Nature’s bounty, combining it with their own gifts and talents. They preserved natural resources and used only what they needed. They gave of themselves and their time to bring joy to others.

You can do the same by sharing wonderful, simple gifts that help sustain the Earth — an act of friendship toward all living things, not just the recipient of the gift. The greatest gifts include you or your time, shared experiences, and gifts for the Earth. These — rather than material goods — save resources. The key to giving is to combine the wants, needs, and interests of the recipient with your special skills, talents, and experiences. Here are some suggestions:

Gifts of Yourself or Your Time:

• Make and deliver homemade meals once a month for a year, taking into consideration the person or family’s particular food preferences and dietary constraints. If possible, share foods from your family’s heritage, which will offer more of who you are to the recipient.

• Babysit for a friend or relative regularly. New parents need time to regroup and replenish. What a treasured gift you’ll provide by offering your experience, security and wisdom. Not only will they know who is taking care of their little one, but you’ll also help them save money they can put towards their time out.

• Take an elderly relative or friend to lunch monthly. Especially for those who don’t drive, your gift will provide companionship, time outside their home, and the opportunity to be amongst other people and new surroundings.

• Give free lessons in a sport or activity you love, which could include a foreign language or musical instrument. Imagine how wonderful someone will feel to receive the gift of your time as well as your knowledge, expertise and passion. Your gift might in turn help someone connect to a new passion of their own.

• Share your talents and skills— photography, home decorating, budgeting, and even hairstyling are all great services to offer others.

• Collect and compile family recipes. If your extended family is made up of different cultures, this can be an incredible way to bring everyone’s backgrounds together. The recipe book you create can bring together dishes and desserts from the various cultures, along with other favorite recipes collected through the years.

• Put together a photo album, digital or paper, to capture family history or special moments throughout someone’s life. Being able to capture memories of past generations can be especially significant.

A Gift that Doesn’t Need to Be Wrapped

In addition to the ideas listed above, there are items you can purchase that don’t require packaging and reams of wrapping paper. Event tickets, along with memberships to museums or your local zoo all make great gifts. Gift certificates to local businesses not only provide a meaningful gift, but help support your community as well. Other ideas include: the gift of a plant or tree, weekly food delivery service for a designated period of time, or a donation in the recipient’s name to an organization of their interest (e.g., literacy training or to protect the rainforest).

Gifts for the Earth

Last but definitely not least, providing a membership to a non-profit organization that does hands-on work on behalf of the Earth demonstrates your love of our planet as well as the person for whom you purchase this gift. You’ll help the organization trying to make a difference while enriching the life of the recipient.

How might you enhance the lives of those you love as you share yourself AND support Mother Earth this holiday season? There are endless possibilities. Have fun with it and remember how special you are! Happy holidays!

Donna Mazzitelli was a contributing author to Speaking Your Truth, Vols. I & II and the editor of Vol. III. As “The Word Heartiste,” she helps others connect to their story and craft it with heart through her coaching, writing and editing services. In 2010, she founded Bellisima Living, a place to connect to a more beautiful life and world. Learn more at www.writingwithdonna.com and www.bellisimaliving.com.