That time of the year has come again, and I am starting to see people around with shopping bags and even already wrapped presents. Some people are having presents-free Christmas to help the environment,  but I know many people struggle with this idea.

For most people, presents is a big part of the whole Christmas experience, it is a tradition, and I get that it is hard to break.

I have written some posts in the past about giving experiences over stuff, rethinking Christmas traditions, greener gift ideas and having a greener Christmas, but today I am writing about thoughtful presents for family/close friends – it is harder to give thoughtful presents to people you don’t know well.

Thoughtful meaning

To start, let’s find out what the definition of thoughtful is:

“Having or showing heed for the well-being or happiness of others and a propensity for anticipating their needs or wishes.”-

So, it is about making others feel good in a special way and trying to bring some happiness to their lives.

To me being thoughtful about anything means presence, love, kindness, appreciation, empathy. In other words, you show them you really and deeply care!

Why thoughtful presents

I believe, for Christmas or any other occasion really, thoughtful presents make more sense in the message you are trying to convey when giving someone close to you a present: I bought you this present because I care about you, you are special to me, and I did my best to pick something I believe will bring you joy and happiness.

Giving presents is about that connection, it is about the bond and the love you have for each other.

Have  you ever received a meaningful present? Something so special and perfect for you that you couldn’t stop smiling? If you have, you know it feels great and to me it is a totally different experience compared to receiving random presents.

Of course, we always feel grateful to anyone who spent time and money buying a present for us, but thoughtful presents really make us feel loved and appreciated to another level. It means the giver really knows us, he/she “sees us” and took the time to carefully think what to give us to make us feel loved.

Another key component is thoughtful presents usually reduce waste compared to random presents. Many presents end up in opp-shops or even worse, in landfill. When you take the time to pick something really special for someone, it is very likely this person will keep it, use it and cherish it.

It is about the meaning

These days is very easy to buy presents, and in the rush of Christmas season, often people just try to tick things off the long list.

According to this year, industry experts expect the average American to spend $920 per person on holiday gifts. That’s a lot of money.

It is not really about the object (or experience) and how expensive it is, is about its meaning.

You can give someone you love a mug. If it was a thoughtful gift, perhaps this person had been looking for this particular type of mugs for a long time or maybe this mug is identical to a mug she had when she was a kid and she loved it because her father gave it to her or she really loves mugs and collects this type of vintage ones, the price doesn’t matter because that simple mug is special to this person, means something.

Thoughtful presents, my examples

A thoughtful present is something very subjective and unique, so the process of selecting them is quiet personal. In our family, we often don’t do presents (unless friends visiting us insist, then we try to organise something that works for everyone), but I am sharing 3 examples with you based on my ideas of a thoughtful present (I prefer experiences)

An experience to share

If you like me, believe a thoughtful present means presence too, then perhaps an experience to do with the person could be an excellent present. Anything the other person loves to do: a local tour, a nice dinner, a night out, a concert, bowling.

Not only you are giving a gift, you are giving him/her your presence and time to spend it together: to have fun, talk, laugh. I’d say that’s thoughtful 🙂

Music lovers

Someone who enjoys music usually tend to get a CD of a type of music they like or his favourite bands/singers. But what about a list of songs especially picked for them and with a meaning?

Possibilities are endless: songs you used to sing/dance together many years ago, a cheer me up playlist, favourite 70s, 80s or 90s songs etc.

Songs are easy to buy online. I personally would write a nice note with the list of songs and I will put it in a box with a message, then I’d give the person the songs in a digital format later that way waste is reduced. Alternatively, if you prefer something physical, you can give them the songs in a USB flash drive or DVD (and explain what it is).

Let’s support a cause together

If someone you know is passionate about a cause, do something special to help him/her to make a difference. Find out what you can do to help organisations working for this cause and see how you can translate that in a present. The simpler way is donations, but there are many other possibilities depending on the subject.

  “Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean” – Ryunosuke Satoro

So, now it is your turn, what would be a thoughtful present for you?