Thinking Outside the Box: Holiday Gift Giving

Dr. Christina Vlahopoulos, ND

The Holiday Season is quickly coming and not only is the goose getting fat, but so are the wallets of all the giant retailors across this country. Over the last few years, I have noticed that gift giving and all the hustle and bustle that surrounds it, has become more stressful than it needs to be. Somewhere along the way, we forget why we are purchasing that small item as a gesture of gratitude and instead fight over the last toy in the store. So, as with anything, age has brought me more wisdom about how I show my gratitude to those I care about, especially at this time of the year. In sharing these ideas, and other Holiday gift giving suggestions, my hope is that it might inspire you to think a little differently about how you show your gratitude this Holiday Season.

This awareness of gift giving and how I was spending my dollars began a few years ago. I was noticing that I was buying something just for the sake of purchasing something. I mean really… does my father need that many ties or my mother need that many sweaters? Once I became aware of what I was doing, I made the conscious decision to really give thought about the gifts I was buying. I began to give things that I believed the person wanted or needed; I would even ask them what they needed or would like. In this way I was ensuring that I was purchasing something that they would appreciate. It also meant I got them something that was going to be useful to them.

As the years have gone by, I have further utilized my purchasing power to buy or make gifts for the Holiday Season that are edible or consumable. Who doesn’t like a really good box of quality chocolates or truffles? For instance, Cottage Confections, a locally owned chocolatier, creates fresh delicious delights by hand. They are only available three times a year and for this Holiday Season, you can visit them at their booth at the Frontenac Mall. Alternatively, you could make homemade jams or preserves or visit a local store that makes their own preserves. I received pickled garlic scapes from a friend who bought them from a local vendor at the market and was pleasantly surprised as to how delicious they were! With consumables or edibles, not only can they be delicious or something new to the taste buds, but there is also little in the way of waste. It is important however, to be mindful if the receiver has any allergies or food sensitivities when giving of a consumable.

Another way to speak with your dollar this Holiday Season is by making a donation to one of the many registered charities. For instance, with the recent devastation in the Philippians there are several registered Canadian charities offering relief and need financial support (Canadian Red Cross, Chalice, CARE, Oxfam, Save the Children, UNICEF, or Global Medic). Furthermore, the Canadian government said it would match every dollar donated by Canadians until December 8th. Alternatively, you could donate to organizations for the environment like the David Suzuki Foundation, Canadian Network for Human Health and the Environment or the Canadian Partnership for Children’s Health and the Environment. Or you could donate to local charities such as the Partners in Mission Food Bank or Habitat for Humanity Kingston & Frotenac. These are just a few of the thousands of registered charities, which can always use support. You could give the gift of a donation and help a charity continue their cause.

If you have an avid reader, Lovability by Dr. Robert Holden is a book that has been highly recommended – it could even be a book for yourself for Holiday reading. Cookbooks that have gluten free recipes or clean eating recipes are also a great idea for that budding chef in the family or student who is away from home needing fresh ideas for food.

Gift certificates are always a great idea as well. You could get a gift certificate for a treatment here at KIHC or for some of the many workshops and seminars in 2014. If you prefer to get a gift certificate to dine out, you could choose a restaurant that uses local organic foods. Of course there are many great local businesses and/or eco friendly places to shop and spend your dollars back into the community. When you spend your dollars back into the community everyone wins.

These are just a few gift ideas for that special someone on your list but the most meaningful part of the Holiday Season is about spending quality time together. Show your gratitude by going out for a walk in nature together, sip a warm tea, and be thankful for these wonderful people in your life. Sometimes it is the simple ways to show your gratitude that prove to be the most valuable… without even spending a cent.