Featured Advertisers: | Natural Products Guide | Happy Heiny's Sale!

Web www.naturalfamilyonline.com

Fresh Alternatives to Christmas Gift-Giving

Posted: Fun for the Family » Holidays & Rituals » Gift Giving » Christmas | December 12th, 2006



By Waverly Fitzgerald

The connection between Christmas and present-giving is fairly recent. In earlier times, people gave small symbolic gifts at Christmas time, gloves, pins, a coin, flowers, candy, a clove-studded orange or sugar-coated figs. These were usually New Year’s gifts, small tokens to indicate wishes for luck or prosperity during the coming year.

Unfortunately, in 20th-century America, spurred on by the advertising industry and the enormous boon for retail businesses, the giving of presents has become a major focus of the holiday season. All too often this practice becomes a burden, causing financial and emotional hardship.

The simplest way I’ve found to get off this Christmas gift-giving merry-go-round is to refuse to go shopping at all. Luckily, my daughter was a somewhat cynical adolescent before I made this choice. The winter holiday season has always been a time for honoring the child, whether that child is the baby Jesus or the New Year’s baby, so a less radical solution might be to give gifts only to children.

Replace gifts with activities
One of my friends takes each of her nieces and nephews on a special outing during December. Not only does she give their parents a break, but she gets to spend special time with each child, catering to their interests. Her 9-year-old nephew was thrilled with a trip to a candy store, a ride on the monorail and a chance to pet 26 horses (lined up in the street for holiday carriage rides). Her 12-year-old niece wanted to spend a day at the mall, where she and her aunt listened to CDs, tried on ball gowns and ate junk food. Most important of all, my friend listened while her niece talked for four hours nonstop.

A fresh take on gifts
Several years ago, my daughter and I decided to make all of our Christmas gifts. We agreed that birthdays would be the time for store-purchased gifts. That year, I made her a hand-painted silk scarf and a flannel nightgown. She gave me pictures she had painted. In subsequent years, our gifts have included flannel sheets, a bracelet and earrings, a hand-painted ceramic mug, a warm winter hat. One year, when she was gone visiting her dad for Christmas, I painted the walls of her room in colors she had chosen.

Although I stopped buying major presents for my daughter, I do buy gifts in certain categories that have become traditional. I always buy her an ornament, gloves, socks, a book to read and a game to play in those empty hours of Christmas afternoon.

Besides making gifts for my daughter, I also make small token gifts for other people. That first year, I wrote stories about our pets, and Shaw illustrated them. We had them photocopied and bound into little books that we distributed to close friends. Since then, the Christmas book has become a holiday tradition for me.

I don’t always make a book each Christmas. One year, I gave out hand-made soap, and another year I made decorative tin lanterns called luminaries. I have a friend who always makes a tape of his favorite music for the year; these tapes are treasured bits of history, as they chart his evolving taste in music. Other friends give gifts of food: a loaf of pumpkin bread, a jar of chutney.

Although these creative projects are probably more time-consuming than shopping, they are much more satisfying. It’s a great way to withdraw your support from the consumer frenzy of the Christmas season, a mentality very far from the quiet, inward focus of winter.

© Waverly Fitzgerald

Waverly Fitzgerald is a freelance writer and teacher living in Seattle. She has studied seasonal holidays for more than 25 years. She shares her knowledge via a column in SageWoman magazine, a free e-mail newsletter, an online class on “Slow Time” and articles posted at her website, School of the Seasons.

One Response to “Fresh Alternatives to Christmas Gift-Giving”

1 Keri says:

Monetta Mutual Funds has a no-load Young Investor Fund that offers kid-themed investments, college tution credits and activities for kids to learn about saving/investing for their future. This could be considered a unique gift for a child.

Leave a Comment

Subscribe to NFO's free eNewsletter!

Google ads are not personally selected by our admin team.
Find out more.

Free Baby Website - Affordable Baby Web Site
FREE safe and secure baby & toddler websites!