There are certainly a lot of ugly elements within the Christmas season, mixed in with the beautiful- the greatest of which is needless consumerism. There tends to be a frantic, subliminal message of “buy, buy, buy” running through the get-togethers, the decorating, the family pressure. The average American plans to spend over $800 on Christmas this year. It’s enough to make one want to do away with the Christmas gift-giving once and for all- and some folks have! Donating money to charity, pooling money for a family vacation, or giving an experience rather than stuff are all great alternatives to purchasing gifts.
With that being said, and as much as I love using alternative methods to show my loved ones I care about them outside of gift giving… I’ll never eschew gift-giving altogether, for two big reasons:
1. Because the love language of many of my friends and family is gift-giving. I try to hone in on what it is that my family members value the most- for some, it’s quality time, for others, it’s gifts or words of encouragement.
2. Because I think that buying gifts can actually have a more positive impact than making a donation. How, you ask? I’m a bit disenfranchised with ”big charity”. I recently watched a documentary film that revealed, among other things, just how the donations pipeline functions for most large development organizations. Relatively little of the funds/goods that are donated trickle through system to the people who are in need of aid- and, it turns out, the recipients don’t always welcome those funds/goods. As one farmer put it in said film, “we don’t want the US to SEND us cheap food, we want them to buy our goods so that we can buy our own food”.
While there is certainly still a need for aid dollars in the face of disasters and war, for most developing countries I believe that our best bet for eradicating social injustices is supporting local industries. Buying ethically made gifts (from transparent small businesses) that create more jobs with a fair, living wage is a guarantee that your dollars are making a impact that will last longer than a handout.
This past week, while visiting family on the east coast, I packed up a little Christmas/birthday surprise that I picked out for my older sister and her family courtesy of American Nomad.
I know my sister. I know that she doesn’t technically “need” anything. But I also know that little gifts bring her joy and that there are things that she’d like for her home that she wouldn’t spend money on herself. As a busy mom, nurse, and wife, collecting artsy items takes a back burner to loads of laundry and buying diapers!
My sister was just gifted a lovely couch and wooden console table, and I chose a block-printed ikat table runner made by JOYN to surprise her with. My niece has already claimed it as the perfect spot for her baby nativity set, and it’s a lovely addition to my sister’s home.
I chose JOYN for another reason, as well. My sister is passionate about empowering parents to care for their kids. Whether working as a labor and delivery nurse, serving as a Doula for low-income and first-time mamas, or pouring her heart and soul into foster card advocacy, it’s at the heart of everything she does. JOYN products have a similar mission behind them- at JOYN, moms and dads alike are given opportunity to support their families and keep them together.
I’d love to hear about a special gift that you’ve chosen for someone you love this year! Let me know on Instagram or leave a comment!