December 11, 2018

With the holidays in full swing, a message we constantly see this time of year is that we must give thoughtfully.

But what does that mean exactly?

Are thoughtful gifts solely those that are homemade—what if I’m not the best at DIY?

Do we have to drop serious coin to be "thoughtful"? I don’t exactly have the budget to splurge.

Put simply, giving thoughtfully is tapping into the needs of other people. This can be a tangible need, such as a sturdy winter coat for a friend who has just moved from the south to the northeast. Or, the emotional needs of someone, like an encouraging letter. It isn’t exactly one-size-fits-all, which is what makes it even more special.

Put simply, giving thoughtfully is tapping into the needs of other people.
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Giving thoughtfully, or more specifically, generosity in itself has been proven to reduce stress and increase one’s physical health. But even knowing this, gifting thoughtfully is still stressful—especially when you're on a tight budget, like me.

Earlier this year, I left a well-paying job in pursuit of my passions. So, gift giving for the holidays has been especially daunting for me. Last year I was able to really splurge on the ones I loved, and, in some ways, I’ve felt pretty insecure about not being able to do the same this time around.

I decided to start planning early to lessen the stress I was already feeling. As I began to thoughtfully consider and map out what I wanted to get for each person, my feelings started to change. I actually felt happier and prouder of the gifts I came up with because they were personal and truly embodied what I knew would bring true joy to each recipient.

How exactly did I go about this? Let me break it down for you.

Start by Making It Personal

Think about who you plan on giving gifts to this season. With each person, consider the year they’ve had or what they are up to in their lives currently.

Did they start their own business? Perhaps a gift card to their favorite lunch spot or coffee shop will help them save money as that business grows.

With each person, consider the year they’ve had or what they are up to in their lives currently.
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Have they recently begun a new hobby? How about a new notebook for the budding creative writer?

Maybe they moved into their own place. Why not frame a photo or bake one of your favorite desserts to make the new apartment feel homier?

It’s so easy to get wrapped up in the shiny new tech gadgets and accessories, but what will truly blow someone away is attention to detail, taking into account who they are specifically and their priorities.

Don’t Feel Obligated to Break the Bank

There isn’t typically a max amount on what you can gift someone, but more importantly, there is no minimum amount either.

When gifting thoughtfully, you shouldn’t feel obligated to break the bank in order to express your love or gratitude.

Matter of fact, having limited funds can actually push you to become more creative and thoughtful in your consideration of what someone really needs. For example: A DIY gratitude jar—full of thoughtful compliments for a friend—might offer them the daily morning boost they need.

Having limited funds can actually push you to become more creative and thoughtful in your consideration of what someone really needs.
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Give the Gift of Time

Your time is valuable—and it can be a gift in itself. Send a letter to people dear to you saying that this year you’d love to give them the gift of working toward building your relationship even more. Ask for ways you can be a better friend or partner. Or, offer to go to a doctor's appointment with a friend who might be sick, or host a dinner or brunch.

For people in your network: You can offer up time to share a certain skill of yours (ex. reviewing a friends's presentation).

Use Your Skills

Though we may not all be Pinterest masters, we each have our own unique talents or strengths. Why not use your personal gifts as gifts themselves.

If writing is your thing, try gifting those you love with a poem or short story you’ve written. Perhaps you’ve become quite the cell phone photographer, how about having some of those shots printed and framed for your loved ones?

Maybe your skill isn’t something tangible, and you’re actually a magnificent listener or advice giver. Who could benefit from getting to spend a bit more quality time with you this holiday season?

Package It Beautifully

A thoughtful giver considers every aspect of the gifting process, right down to the way it is presented. Spend a little more time on the way you wrap or package your gifts. YouTube a new wrapping technique, or how to tie the perfect bow, these small details can really help enhanced the moment—especially if your gift isn’t that flashy.

When in Doubt, Just Ask

Still stumped? There’s no shame in just asking. As an entrepreneur, I can personally say that there are specific things I’d find useful, that not everyone may be privy to.

This may be the case for one of your loved ones as well, so why not ask.

Even if you don’t get them the exact item they want, at least hearing from them first hand will help you narrow down a few items they’ll really appreciate.

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Not all of us have a specific person or group of people on our gifting list this year, and that's OK. The act of thoughtful giving isn’t specific to just those directly in your life.

Research shows that volunteering can promote happiness, so the act of giving back can be two-fold. You can do good and feel good in the process.

Know Your 'Why'

Most importantly: Rather than give and dash, take a moment to savor the gift giving process.

Studies show that our brains light up more when we give gifts than receive them.

Studies show that our brains light up more when we give gifts than receive them.
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After you give a gift, ask yourself: What's my why behind this gift? Maybe it's to show your BFF how much you care. Or, to let your partner know that they're loved. Or even just to put a smile on a co-workers face when they open those poop emoji slippers.

Savor the why behind your gift, and you'll be gifting thoughtfully like a pro.

Happy, mindful gifting!


Read next: 30 Self-Care Gifts to Treat Yourself or Others This Holiday

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