The last place you are going to find me is at a mall on Black Friday - it is a rarity that you will find me there at all. Somewhat paradoxically, this year my birthday fell on Black Friday. A number of people who don't know me very well asked if I was going to celebrate by going shopping, to which I responded with a thank you no, a smile, and an abridged version of my minimalist lifestyle. I received my fair share of horrified looks and blank stares as if to say . . . well have fun with that dear, have you always been completely insane? Others were intrigued and wanted to know more on the subject of minimalism.
On my birthday, my folks dropped by to visit for a bit, then I spent the afternoon in the studio, in an awesome jam session with my hubby. No need to cook with all of those Thanksgiving leftovers and the last thing I wanted to do was go out to dinner. Later on we lit some candles, put a fire in the fireplace, and snuggled together to watch a hysterically funny movie while sipping apple cider. After that I read until I fell asleep. My idea of a perfect birthday! So did I receive any gifts? Well yes, and I will tell you more about them at the end of this blog, provide some of my own recommendations when it comes to gifting, and make a special request of you.
I have perused several excellent minimalist blogs on the subject of holiday gifts, that I wanted to share with you before giving you my take on the subject. Each of these people embraces minimalism in their own way, and I think there is pocket minimalist here for everybody.
1. 1 Simple Strategy to Save $2,000 this Holiday and Make Everyone Love You Forever, by Everett Bogue of Far Beyond the Stars. Everett starts out his blog with: "My name is Everett Bogue, and I think you're an idiot." Don't be offended, its just his way of getting your attention. Everett is a radical minimalist who lives with less than 100 things (I think closer to about 55), who can live and work from anywhere in the world. He is not being a Scrooge, or even the Grinch - no intention of interfering with the visions of sugar plums dancing in your heads. He is brilliant and offers you "some resources in order to save a shit-ton of money, as well as make people want to sit next to you at the dining room table at Christmas." Very cool!
2. Best Gifts for Selective Minimalist People, by Hasina of Fabulissime. I have recently begun reading Hasina's blog, which introduction simply reads: "My name's Hasina. Simplicity with a tiny bit of bling rocks my world." I think Hasina is absolutely adorable and her tres chic form of minimalism is the perfect balance to my own kind of shabby chic-ness. She gives you some great tips to ensure that "your gift won’t end up in the recipient’s re-gifting box, in her/his basement, at the Goodwill, or worse, in the landfill." A worthy read and be sure to check out the awesome pictures of her house in Montreal. Sweet deal!
3. 35 Gifts Your Children Will Never Forget, by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist. Joshua is married with two children, living in the suburbs - a "typical middle-class family (minus the dog)." He poses the question: … "what type of gifts can we give to our children that they will never forget? What gifts will truly impact their lives and change them forever?" Then he goes on to give you a list of 35 gifts that you will not find at any department store. Beautiful Joshua.
4. Handmade Holidays, by Robyn Devine of Minimalist Knitter. Robyn created Minimalist Knitter "as a way to help liberate other knitters from the burden of stashes that have grown too big, and the idea that to knit is to hoard." Robyn is a knitter. She has commenced her very own Handmade Holiday Challenge and has welcomed in "brand new ideas for how to make our home more holiday-tastic without purchasing a bunch of new things." She also has a very cool Life List at the top of which is "Knit 10,000 items for charity." Awesome ideas, especially if you are good at making stuff!
Having my birthday fall exactly one month before Christmas gives my loved ones the double headache of thinking of what to give me, twice within a very short time frame, and if I don't watch out my poor husband will worry himself to death over what to do, and my children, who are all adults now, will spend way too much. Incidentally, they don't want to hear that I have everything I need, and there is no way to convince them that I really would love a couple cartons of firelogs. They want to get me something personal. So, I gave them suggestions and they did very well. Naturally, for everything I received, I got rid of something else.
1. New bathrobe. The old threadbare one is now cut up into nice soft polishing rags for our guitars and the like.
2. New slippers. The old ragged smelly ones have gone into the trash. Sniff, yuk! Bye bye! You served me well.
3. Lamp. Now I can read while lying in bed without straining my eyes. I compensated by donating my old jewelry box.
4. Crystal candle globes. I just love to burn scented candles. I donated some old brass candlesticks.
Everything above is something that I am already using. If you are having difficulty deciding what to get for someone that will be useful to them, here are some gifts that will not break the bank, and that I feel can always be utilized:
1. Foodstuffs. Coffee, tea, wine, chocolates, fruit, baked goods, jams, jellies, etc. The recipients can share these with others if they so choose, thus sharing in the goodness.
2. Books. I particularly like books as a gift. Choose a book on a subject that the recipient is passionate about, actively pursuing, or possibly interested in learning more about. You might also want to check out The Zen Habits List of Perfect Books for Perfect Gifts, by Leo Babauta of Zen Habits.
3. Candles. Particularly the aromatherapy types! There is a style and fragrance for just about everybody.
4. Plants and Flowers. An inexpensive way to freshen and brighten things up. How about some herbs to place in the windowsill, or some seeds to plant in the spring?
5. CD's and DVD's. It is easy to pick people's brain on this one - everyone likes to talk about what they are listening to and/or watching.
6 Care Packages. For that college kid or young adult on your list, who is trying to afford both books as well as food and sundry items.
7. Charity. Make a charitable donation in honor of your loved ones to their favorite charity, or pick one you think they would support. I did this one year for my collective siblings and they simply loved it!
8. Your Time. Whether it be washing their car, fixing a few things around the house, taking them to lunch, or walking their dog when they have a bad case of the sniffles - they will appreciate it. Especially the elderly! How about taking granny's car in to have the oil changed, fixing the tire on Junior's bike - then going for a bike ride with him, or babysitting for that young couple that can't afford the cost of a night out on the town as well as a babysitter.
Naturally, use mindfulness in giving, make sure the gift is appropriate, for instance don't given poisonous plants to persons with small children and/or pets who might try to eat them, or peanut butter cookies to someone who is allergic to peanuts.
What I would like from you this year:
1. For you to seek out and discover your passion.
2. For you to pursue that passion.
3. For you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life through pursuit of your passion.
4. For you to find true happiness through pursuit of your passion.
5. For you to keep reading my blog, to comment on same and to let me know what you think. If you would like to subscribe, there is a place to do so in the right side bar of my blog.
This year, in honor of my readers, I am making donations to three of my favorite charities, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital , Animal Welfare Institute, and Greenpeace. That is my way of saying thanks. In the spirit of the season and also in honor of all of those other bloggers who inspire me so tremendously throughout the year, from now through December 31, 2010, I will donate ALL commissions made by me through affiliate sales on the books listed in the right side bar of this blog under Ro's Recommendations, to these charities!