Christmas. What a wonderful, potentially stressful time of year. We all have so much to do and people to consider. A few years back a great book fell on my path called The Go-Giver: A Little Story about a Powerful Business Idea, a book written in 2008 by Bob Burg and John D. Mann.
While the book was written to inspired business people, it changed my life in a few significant non-business ways. Wikipedia summarizes it well: Joe, the main character, embarks on a learning journey by meeting Go-Givers - friends of The Chairman. Through these interactions he learns of the Five Laws of Stratospheric Success:
The Law of Value: Your true worth is determined by how much more you give in value than you take in payment.
The Law of Compensation: Your income is determined by how many people you serve and how well you serve them.
The Law of Influence: Your influence is determined by how abundantly you place other people's interests first.
The Law of Authenticity: The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself.
The Law of Receptivity: The key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving.
While all the information in the book is helpful, laws 4 and 5 have had the greatest impact on my life. The most valuable gift you have to offer is yourself and the key to effective giving is to stay open to receiving. At this moment, we will talk about giving of yourself during the holidays. The importance of receiving we will talk about in the December issue of the Beckons newsletter.
Give of Yourself
One year, when my children were little, I went to Toys-R-Us to do a tiny bit of Christmas shopping. My daughter wanted a Barbie or something pink. While in the line, I was preceded and followed by people with heaping carts of crap, toys stacked twice as tall as the cart itself. It made me physically ill to see this. What child needs that many presents? Shoot, give a boy a stick and he will be happy for an entire afternoon playing cops and robbers. He or she will remember going to the aquarium and having ice cream with Grandma far more than getting a box of Legos to join the mountain of Legos the child already has. Our children, friends and family members need experiences and attention more than they need things. Also, people remember the unusual moments in their lives. So, if you take someone to a movie or lunch, lasting and special memories are made. Here are some suggestions about giving "yourself" as a gift for Christmas:
- Take someone out to lunch, dinner, coffee, or for a glass of wine
- Offer to spend time with a loved one helping clean closets, organize a garage, paint a room, do some yard work, or finish up a long-standing project
- Help someone bake Christmas cookies or wrap presents
- Be a slave for a day, doing anything they want you to do (within reason.)
- Take a loved one shopping for groceries, clothing, and/or housewares.
- Take a niece or nephew to a movie and out for ice cream.
- Take a loved one to church during the holidays or accompany them to their service. If you haven't gone in a while, your parents will likely be thrilled at your willingness to go with them.
- Give a certificate for a very specific dinner that you are good at making, redeemable anytime during January with 48 hours notice to be delivered and/or shared.
- Take all the women in the family to high tea at a fancy teahouse.
- We all have basic skills and a unique set of talents that can help people. Christmas is a good time to help out those who need a hand. Volunteering for a non-profit is a wonderful choice at any time. I often wonder, though, how many people within our own network of family and friends could use the help just as badly as the non-profit group.
Guidelines for Purchasing Gifts
If time is one thing you do not have or your family causes you so much stress that spending time with them is not in your best interest, there are many great gifts that you can give that come from your heart and hands. Here are some basic guidelines for purchasing intentional gifts:
1. Make sure it is consumable-we all have so much stuff in our space. No one needs another thing that they have to move around or dust. Give gifts that someone can eat, brew, spend, or use in their everyday life.
2. Spend according to your values. Support the business that matter to you. Buy local. Give the money to the people that deserve it the most - those who are making a difference in your community. This could be a gift certificate from your local coffee shop or restaurant.
3. When giving a gift that smells, like lotion or candles, make sure that the scent is from essential oils (naturally occurring scents derived from plants) not chemicals. Chemical sensitivities are very common these days, where people cannot tolerate the artificial smells added to products. I can smell Vanilla Bean Bath & Body Works lotion the minute someone walks into the room, at which time I have to leave because it makes me sick. Natural grocery stores are loaded with great options. One of my favorite scented product lines is Hugo Naturals.
The world's most amazing hand cream is from the Naked Goat Farm. Their Whipped Body Butter Spa Blend or Lemon & Lime hand cream is sublime ($12).
My other favorite is Bhaktiveda's Neem Hand & Foot Cream ($18). The smell and nourishing ingredients are heavenly.
These items are gifts that keep on giving. They take awhile to fully consume; every time someone uses the lotion they will think of you.
4. Package them beautifully and people will remember them as the treasure that they are. Every year we receive the tiniest gifts from my good friend, Elaine. They come packaged in the most beautiful way and clearly represent something well thought out and intentional, often a symbol of abundance or good fortune for the upcoming year. She stealthily drops them off when we are not home so that we have a wonderful surprise waiting on our doorstep. If you want to give a more substantial gift, compile a gift bag of three of your favorite things like chocolates, soaps, lotions, candles, wine, coffee, or tea.
Make the Gifts Yourself
Grab a special friend or family member and work together to make gifts. My cousin, Kris, and I work throughout the fall preparing treats for our families. We begin with The World's Greatest Tomato Soup (recipe to be shared in a future newsletter) that we make using the fresh tomatoes from our gardens, supplemented by farmer's market tomatoes. We make English toffee and caramels, using our Grandma Leila Boddicker's original recipe. We get a large bag of almonds that we roast and season and make a variety of cookies. Each item we package nicely, presenting a gift bag full of goodies, brimming with our hard work and love. Putting it all together is one of the most fun parts. Everything is consumable, gluten free (just in case that is an issue) and is made with the best ingredients we can find, along with our love and good intentions.
With the recent economic distress, people are making better decisions about how they spend their money, which is a good thing. This year consider not buying gifts and instead, spending time with people. No time? Include a loved one in something you have to do anyway, like eating. If you have to buy something, make sure the items are well chosen. And best of all, grab a special friend and make treasured gifts for people with your own hands. Give of yourself this holiday season.