Creative Giving

Creative Giving

It’s that time of year, the time of giving. December is the holiday season for many belief systems and a time to give gifts to our loved ones.

In years past, I agonized over gift-giving. I’ve lived most of my life below what is considered poverty level, at times way below, and I’ve managed to be pretty creative.  I discovered early on that I could make a gift that was worth way more than I could afford if I had to purchase it. For instance, one year, I made everyone quilts out of fabric scraps and many years I made everyone beautiful high-end jewelry.

I’m a giver. I love to give. It makes me feel good!

Of course I also love to receive!

Many years ago I started a new tradition of giving to myself. I was looking at all the pieces of beautiful art I had made for my loved ones and thinking, “Gee, I’d love to have one of these paintings myself.”

DING! It was a light bulb moment to realize that I could give to myself. I’ve made it a tradition, and have given myself everything from a book to a piece of jewelry to a piece of art. It’s fun to give to myself and I like to suggest to others that they start the same tradition. We all deserve to receive something we know we’ll love. Right?

As the years went by I became overwhelmed with stuff, and I began to value other kinds of gifts. For instance, gift certificates for a massage or a nice dinner are great gifts to receive, and they don’t collect dust! Recently, my dance students all pitched in for a tattoo gift certificate for one of our troupies.

Each year I have a dance studio Christmas party. We usually do a gift exchange or an ornament exchange. A few years ago, I started the tradition of re-gifting.  You know all those gifts you receive that you’ll never use? There’s that pair of beautiful sparkling pink earrings and you hate pink or that book you’ve already read or perfume you’ll never wear and the list goes on. It’s time to pass these things along to someone who might love them.

We put the gifts in a pile on the floor and draw numbers. Number one gets to go first and choose whichever gift looks appealing to them. They open the gift and then number two gets a turn. They can either pick out a gift from the pile or take number one’s gift and she gets to choose another one. It’s a fun way to do it.

I think my favorite year was the year I was moving.  I went through all of my dance costumes and baubles and bangles, decided what I wanted to let go of, put it all in a big pile in the middle of my studio and had a give away. Again, we drew numbers and one at a time, people picked out something they wanted. This time they got to keep what they chose and it was really fun watching my treasures become my friends new treasures. A lot of it was called my “Someday Stuff.” Someday, I’m going to make this, or someday I’m going to use that. I waited for years for ‘someday’ to show up but it never did, so now it’s someone else’s ‘someday stuff.’

This year we’re going to stuff silly socks with re-gifting items and do a sock exchange. I think it'll be a lot of fun and something different.

I have to admit that my favorite gift of all is the gift of friendship. One of my friends knew I was feeling a bit low last weekend, and she invited me over for dinner. It really cheered me up and was a wonderful gift to receive.

Anymore, giving gifts rarely involves buying things, and my life is richer than ever.

What are some of your gift giving traditions?

Giving and Receiving,