The art of gifting is one of those elusive skills I have yet to master, but I am always thoroughly impressed at how effortless other people make it seem – particularly my friends.
As a vegan, and someone who is pursuing a lifestyle that does not involve generating waste or sending any matter to our landfills, you might that say I’m a little high maintenance.
So with this in mind, when I recently spent my birthday with some girlfriends in the mountains, I asked that instead of buying gifts we make it a zero-waste weekend. I could not have been more moved by their generosity, thoughtfulness and creativity as they applied themselves to my request.
As we sat contemplating the open sky one night, one of my friends pulled out her guitar and gently delivered the most unassuming and beautiful version of Coldplay’s “Fix You” that I have ever heard. She has been teaching herself to play for a little less than a year now (using that wonderful online guru of all teachings – YouTube) and knowing the time that it must have taken her to learn that song means more to me than I will ever be able to say. Another friend gave me a book by one of my favourite authors. Inside the book she had written that my real gift was a ticket to go see one of my favourite bands next year.
And another friend spent the few days before we left, making ice at home and storing it in a cooler box which she brought with her, because buying ice was not an option as the plastic that it comes in is not recyclable. Do you know how long it takes to fill a cooler box with ‘homemade’ ice?
Now, I know that not all of us can serenade our way into the perfect gift, but I do think the ideas below are fairly good examples of gifts that keep on giving.
Experiences. Tickets to a concert, the theatre or a local art exhibition, or a permit to go hiking somewhere, are great gifts, particularly because they make great memories. Even better if you do it together!
Something edible. I’m not talking Home Industries here. Forget the homemade crunchies and think ‘pots of herbs’, accompanied by homemade pesto and the recipe you used. Or Consol jars with veggies that regrow, accompanied by instructions. For example, did you know that scallions will regrow from their white ends? Just place the ends in a jar of water, let them catch some sun, and you can pretty much keep snipping the green ends for practically endless seasoning!
Traditions. Particularly great for families! Start a tradition that the whole family can participate in each year. Like a champagne breakfast every year after Christmas Day, or waking up to open just one gift at midnight.
What I realised that evening in the mountains as I sat swimming in my tears, is that the art of gifting lies not in ‘getting it right’ by buying the perfect something, the magic lies in knowing that someone cared enough to part with their time in order to give you something that they think you’ll love.
What was the best gift you ever received?