Holiday Shopping Guide 2014: The Greatest Gifts that Give All Year Long

Over the years, it seems corporate American has taken over the holidays, it has evolved into a season of running to the store instead of days that allow us to re-connect with our friends and family. If this sounds like you, then perhaps we can help you change your usual gift-giving strategy to one that will be more meaningful and memorable. Who knows, maybe one of these ideas can turn into a long lasting tradition!

Volunteer or donate to a charity in someone else’s name

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Unfortunately, the warm-joyous vibe of holidays also brings in the cold winter weather. Because of this, many unfortunate souls have to turn to homeless shelters and soup kitchens to stay warm. Volunteers are always short staffed at these organizations so if you have the time, look for places in your area and help them whenever you can. If your time is limited already and volunteering in person isn’t an option, then donate to a charity organization of their choice. Donating on someone else’s behalf is a great way to kill two birds with one stone – not only did you get spend money on your loved one, but you helped make a difference in someone else’s life also.

Buy gifts from “One for One” Companies instead

TOMS-logo-with-missionIf buying gifts is a part of your holiday tradition, then maybe you can make the conscious decision to buy from a place that helps people. Look for companies that have a one-for-one motto; they donate the same amount of products you buy to charities. TOMS Shoes, Blanket America, Smile Squared (tooth brushes), and Roma Boots are some companies that follow this mindset and deserve your business. Also look for local companies who practice this same philanthropic philosophy.

Enroll them into a class

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We all have friends and relatives that want to join certain classes or programs but never take the initial step into actually enrolling. It could be a gym membership, language class, or music lesson. For a gift that truly keeps on giving, this is the epitome; not only will you be helping enrich their lives, but you are also supporting local businesses as well! This makes an especially great gift for young children.

Bake them something they enjoy

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It’s easy, to the point, and the fact you took the time do something makes it special. It would be even more special if you had time to make something with your loved one, but even if you can’t it is still a kind and thoughtful gesture. The best part is that when you bake something delicious it contains less harmful ingredients than store-bought desserts typically do and it still pleases their sweet tooth!

Write an old-fashioned, hand written letter

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With texting, emailing, and social media messaging constituting a good portion of our written communication, the excitement of receiving a hand-written letter is a feeling many have either forgotten or are unfamiliar with. So ditch the typical stock greeting card – especially those ecards – and write up something thoughtful and meaningful that people will hold on to – instead of clicking it into the trash box.

Make something by hand

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Instead of purchasing a gift make something by hand! Crocheting or knitting articles of clothing like scarves and hats is a great place to start. Paintings and sculptures are another great example. If you are a musician, try recording a song. If you are fluent – or learning a new language – write them a poem or a song in it. Essentially, allow your own creativity and talent to flow into the gifts; so if you are good at something, put it to use.

Buy food for a stranger

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One of the simplest things you can do this year is buy a meal for a stranger. This can be something as simple as paying for the person behind you in a line at the grocery store or take the bill for an elderly couple or a veteran in a restaurant you are eating at. You could also purchase a meal for a homeless person by donating to a local food bank. Holidays should be about creating positive vibes and this simple act of kindness does exactly that. Who knows, maybe this can eventually become a trend for everyone during the holidays.

Host a potluck

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Hosting a dinner is one of the easiest ways to bring people together. But, instead of having the food catered, make it a potluck! People tend to show more interest in events when they can contribute and making food is about as simple as it gets. Potlucks don’t have to be boring or similar to every other family gathering (we all have that one person in family that makes the same thing every year); you can easily put a special spin on your party! For example, if you are an Italian family, have a Thai themed party, this way everybody will have to make something new. This makes for a unique experience – making the occasion a memorable one!

Share something meaningful to you

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We all have things that mean a lot to us. It may be something that motivated you in the past, a gift from a loved one or simply something that you are emotionally attached to. This year you could start a tradition and pass this item on to someone who is looking for motivation. Holidays are the perfect time to inspire and get emotionally closer to the ones you love and this is a great way to do both.

Give your time – Pull out the Family Memories

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We all understand the value of time, which seems to be on short supply these days. So share your precious time instead of taking the shortcut by giving something material. Holidays are a perfect time to go down memory lane, so pull out those photo albums and home videos and enjoy them with some hot chocolate. Holidays also serve as a great time to go on a vacation with friends or family. For all its worth, being able to spend time with your loved ones is the best gift you can possibly give.