While growing up the holidays were always about mainly one thing – presents – now they are so much different. The more grown up I get, the more I care about simply the fun of the season and spending time with the people I love rather than receiving presents. I get so excited to give my parents, sister, family, and friends their gifts that I have carefully picked out and wrapped in preparation for the holidays. I care so much more about the look on their faces when they open their presents and making them feel loved and appreciated than I do about opening any gifts for myself. With that being said, I love how the holidays center around being generous. And – there are so many ways to do so. Besides the traditional way of giving gifts on Christmas morning, you can show your love for those around you and yearn to give in many special ways. Here are my favorite ways to do so.
Do something charitable – I wrote about this in a different post, but every year I sponsor a child in need through the Salvation Army’s Project Angel Tree. I love picking out the perfect gifts and knowing that I am helping a child to have an exciting and special Christmas morning, just like I always had growing up. I treasure those memories and hope I am helping a child to eventually do the same. This year, I am sponsoring a four-year-old little boy and am having so much fun choosing gifts for him! He asked for books (boy after my own heart!), so I am thinking The Day the Crayons Quit, The Wonderful Things You Will Be, Dragons Love Tacos, and What do you do With an Idea?. I also always like to give mittens, socks, a winter hat, and a cozy pair of pajamas for the winter!
Give something homemade – last Christmas, I baked tons of cookies and gave them out to the doormen in our apartment building, the couple that ran our dry cleaning and package service, the woman who did my nails, my colleagues, and a homeless man that always smiled at me as I passed him walking around my neighborhood. All of them appreciated it so much as it was a simple yet unexpected gesture that brought a smile to their faces. Sometimes it is the little things that mean the most!
Give an unexpected present – you don’t have to spend a lot of money to do generous and to make a difference in someone’s life. Give someone who isn’t expecting it a present! Last year, I gave the woman who did my nails all year a Starbucks gift card. I knew that she went for a coffee every day before work, and I wanted her to know that I appreciated her and that I loved my weekly conversations with her. She was so touched and gave me a huge hug as a thanks for the surprise. I felt so great knowing that she was genuinely touched by the gesture and the smile on her face reflected what the holiday season is really about. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to make someone’s day – a pair of festive socks, an extra large candy bar or candy cane, a fun mug, or any small gift can go a long way in making someone feel special.
Write cards – cards mean so much to me – much more than an actual present. I have HUNDREDS of cards saved that I’ve kept stowed away since I was a child (I’m a little sentimental…). Sending cards to your loved ones with a nice message in them lets them know you’re thinking of them and is something that is sure to brighten your day. Even a simple boxed card with a sweet and personalized message is a meaningful gesture.
The gift of TIME – above all, be generous with your time this holiday season! Spend your time with the people you care about most, take the time to wish strangers you encounter a happy holiday season, and give yourself the time you need to relax and ENJOY this special time of year. Time goes by way too quickly – don’t let the holidays pass without spending those extra moments with your grandma, get up early to have coffee in your pajamas with your mom, stay up late laughing with your sister, or spend ten extra minutes snuggling with your pup in front of the fire. I am planning on doing all of those things when I go home to Connecticut at the end of the month, and I can’t wait. There could be no better holiday gift (to myself!) than to give my loved ones as much time as I have and to enjoy the season with them.