How to Have a Mindful Holiday: Giving the Gift of Time

By Kate | Living
Posted Dec 15, 2016

We’ve just written 12 days of holiday gifting ideas, featuring over 100 ethical and sustainable gift ideas. But when it comes to the holidays, buying and gifting ‘things’ is not the only way to celebrate. One of the things our loved ones want more than anything is our time (think of all the money you could save by giving them what they want). To that end, here are some gift alternatives to help build memories with the ones you love:

  • Do a DIY – make something together for your home or apartment, make presents together for others, or how about a photo booth for the holidays? Buzzfeed has some great ideas for hours of photo fun – you can keep it up and share the fun until New Year’s Eve!
  • Play games – you must have some gathering dust somewhere. has board game instructions on everything from Mah Jongg to Backgammon, so dust them off and see who the new reigning champion will be.
  • Bake something – one of the reasons cooking box services like Blue Apron are so successful is because they are bringing couples and families back into the kitchen. But you don’t need a fancy box service to do that. Try one of these classic Julia Child recipes, or call your mom or grandma and ask her for that old recipe she used to make and make it your own.
  • Take a class – like a cooking class, some dance lessons, language classes. Try something new or hit one of your bucket list items. Language classes don’t necessarily need to cost money – check for ‘language exchange’ in your area. Groups get together and for half an hour someone practices English with you and in return you spend half an hour speaking a language you want to learn with a native speaker.
  • Go on a trip – it doesn’t have to be far. How about discovering a neighborhood you haven’t been to or venturing to a nearby town. If you need something more concrete than an aimless journey: type something you love into google maps and let it guide you. I use ‘salad’  and nine times out of ten, google maps will lead me to a health or whole food restaurant, usually a small business, which then serves as a great place to find other clues to continue the journey (the bulletin board is usually full of local offerings).
  • See a live performance - a glance at the entertainment paper (Village Voice ‘Calendar’ page, for example) reveals events happening almost every night of the week. Some are ticketed: plays, comedy shows, the symphony, etc. Or  look for lecture series, music gigs or or other free happenings. Don’t have a local small paper? Try Eventbrite.
  • Get outside – dust off the ice skates, grab the toboggans/bikes/blades and enjoy the day. Holidays often have two modes: ‘hurry + stress’ or ‘eat + rest’. Break the mold and add some movement. Or go for a long walk. Research shows being out in nature has a positive effect on mood plus, the break from screens and distractions will foster deeper connections and conversations.
  • Catch some art – almost all museum and galleries have free days. Find out and head over. Often, the tours are also free, so you can take a deep dive, expand your vocabulary and maybe even get inspired.
  • Make some art – to that end, in addition to the DIY suggested earlier, make it specific and plan an art piece together. It could be photo inspired from any of the aforementioned ideas (YouTube your Julia Child recipe recreation?) or try one of these  52 photo art projects to try. Print at home, at the local pharmacy or… make it just about the making.

If you need to ‘formalize’ any of these or create a gifting moment, you can always make tickets, vouchers or coupons to be redeemed by the loved one for these activities. Watch this YouTube DIY video for inspiration.

Over the next two weeks we will be sharing some other ideas to help make the holidays meaningful, restful and less commercial. Hope you enjoy.

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