The Ungift, Gift Guide For the Upcoming Holiday

Date: 12/03/2021

This last year (or more) has tested us in so many ways and I have decided to take it easy on myself this holiday season – ditching the wrapping paper and the bows to focus on gifts that will not be returned in January but will last a lifetime.  Memories and shared experiences are what reminds us of the importance of time and how fleeting our time together can be.  “Making Memories” That is my theme this year –   I won’t be caligraphying that on my wall or titling a magazine like Mrs. Gaines but hopefully this little article will inspire you, in some small way, to remember the importance of togetherness and the memories we make with our loved ones.  This first group of ungift, gift ideas is around shared experiences.

My husbands family loves coupons – not the save fifty cents when you buy ten bars of soap coupons but “coupons” for things like raking up the leaves or a homemade meal of your choice.  These “coupons” are a fabulous idea for kids and adults alike.  Perhaps you are a crafter and want to get out some pretty papers, glue and glitter to adorn your coupons or, if not, you can certainly find a lovely card and hand write your offerings.  The key to making this successful is to ensure you execute – make sure the receiver knows that dates will be set, times will be kept and memories will be made.  When they do want to schedule, make sure you are flexible and accommodating.

  • Trip to the Zoo
  • Trip to the receiver’s favorite museum
  • At home spa day where green face masks and robes will surely happen
  • Meet up for a walk and talk through a botanical garden 
  • Find an interesting hike or bike ride and include a map of the destination – yes, paper maps can be cool
  • A trip to a local lake for a morning of fishing (this one is inspired by my father-in-law)
  • A picnic lunch or happy hour with a basket of cheese and crackers
  • Volunteer time together at a soup kitchen or park clean up event
  • A weekend retreat to the mountains or beach

I think I am putting all of the above on my Christmas list!  Another tip – don’t be afraid to ask your loved ones for what you want.  It is hard at first to put it out there and be bold, but it really is kinder than taking a box full of gifts to the donate bin.  

I love to learn.  I am in a bit of a rhyming mood, so you could say – I yearn to learn.  I also yearn for others around me to learn and bring some of that knowledge back to me.  I am absolutely drawn to people who continue to seek knowledge and prioritize growth – they make for good company.  The conversations are more exciting, the thoughts and ideas have more depth.  This next group of ungift, gift ideas is focused around learning.

  • Membership to a local art museum
  • A month or a year of online classes – history, poetry, screenwriting, nutrition
  • Live classes like cooking, cheese making, glass blowing, bee keeping, ceramic throwing or flower arranging 
  • Membership to a local yoga studio 
  • Wine or beer making for the alcoholic in your life (just kidding)
  • Sky or Scuba diving certificate programs
  • Golf, tennis, cricket, swimming or any other sporting hobby
  • Gardening, bonsai tree keeping, orchid collecting 
  • Belly Dancing
  • A session with a life or professional coach

The key is to inspire!  Get the receiver to try something new or finally try the thing they have been talking about for years.

If you have been following me for awhile, you know I am a huge supporter of local and small businesses.  Especially those businesses that are providing goods and services that are healthy, inspired, focused on sustainability, giving back to our communities and are just plain awesome.  Our local communities need us and what a wonderful way to support them by sharing the impact they have had with someone you love.  This next group of ideas is about showcasing and supporting local.

  • First one is easy – gift cards.  A bit overplayed but we can make them more meaningful if paired with a “coupon” for you (the gifter) to join in on dinner, coffee, wine tasting, bakery, chocolatier or gift shop that is awesome and locally owned.
  • Sign them up for a CSA box for the ungift of fresh, local produce
  • Housekeeping services for a month or two 
  • Spring garden clean up services
  • Find a local tour guide that can show them around the city with a fresh perspective
  • Donation in the recipient’s name to a human or furry shelter, school, church or senior center.

Friend and family come in all shapes, sizes, likes and dislikes.  The key to hitting this holiday out of the park is to put yourself in the gift recipient’s Loubitans (couldn’t help it!).  Show them that you have listened, that you know them and that this “ungift” has meaning and thought.  One of my favorite gifts I ever received was when my husband made me a playlist, a simple but thoughtful playlist that I still love.  I won’t say if it was a tape, CD, MP3 or other – I don’t want to date myself or my hubby!  I am always on the hunt for creative, inspired ideas – please share what you have given or received that made your top 10 list!  You can find me on Instagram @ panther_instyle

May this holiday season bring you peace, joy and love,