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Gifting outside the box

 | December 9, 2011

Remember the Cabbage Patch Kids? Those so-ugly-they’re-cute baby dolls of the ‘80s? How about Tickle Me Elmo, the “must have” gift of the ‘90s? If so, then you know a little bit about holiday gift giving hysteria. With the potential of another recession around the corner, consumers have more power than ever to speak with their wallets and many are contemplating meaningful rather than material gift giving this holiday season.

Before you plan your holiday gift giving list, consider some of these “gifting outside the box” trends.

First, join the “buy Canadian” movement and consider buying goods manufactured in Canada over those manufactured overseas. Not only is buying Canadian a quiet show of patriotism, it creates local jobs, helps the environment by reducing carbon footprints, and builds communities by supporting local family-run businesses.

Then, shop at the small businesses on the main street of your town, rather than in the big box stores. Buying on Main Street keeps dollars in the community that can then be reinvested locally as part of the economic cycle. Aside from the economic benefits of shopping locally you’ll often find unique, never duplicated gifts that national chains don’t carry.

Not sure what to give your hairdresser, dog sitter or the neighbour that picks up your mail? How about a subscription to their favourite magazine, a series of yoga classes, or a voucher for an oil change? Everyone appreciates it when everyday expenses are covered by someone else. Opt to give the gift of a valued service such as a year’s worth of lawn mowing or sidewalk shovelling, or free babysitting for a couple’s monthly date night. It needn’t be extravagant; the idea is to give something that has meaning or will make a difference to the recipient.

Once considered impolite, re-gifting is in vogue this year and is a great way to share unused, duplicate or improperly sized gifts with someone who will appreciate them. Re-gifting can be a bit of a tricky venture so make sure you don’t re-gift to the original giver!

Small gestures add up to big ones and rather than spending money on a big ticket item, take care of all those little things that break down around the house and have them repaired or replaced. Your spouse will thank you for it!

If the person you’re buying for really does have everything, consider taking the money usually spent on material gifts and donating it to the recipient’s charity of choice. You can still put a gift under the tree by presenting the recipient with a small token that represents the charity—a creative way to keep the surprise in philanthropic giving!

It’s an age-old adage, but the gift of time is perhaps one of the most appreciated gifts you can give. Make a date, put it in your calendar in ink and then make plans to spend time with your loved ones, ice skating, skiing, taking in a movie marathon, or simply hanging out together. It’s those moments captured one-at-a-time, that add up to a lifetime of memories.

These are just a few ideas to inspire you to give outside of the box this year. All it takes is a little forethought and planning and you too can make this year’s gift giving a meaningful affair.

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