Non-Material Gift Ideas: Cheap, Green and Awesome

Christmas jingles are officially running on repeat between my ears. Crowds of loaded up shoppers waddle to and fro and the scent of pine fills the crisp air. As we count down the days, the holiday cheer grows. Smiles and hugs abound. Damn do I love this time of year! With less than a week to go it's officially crunch time for gift buying.

And while some of you diligently planned and swooped up all the deals on black Friday or cyber Monday, some of us, (including myself) wait until the last moment to duct tape the presents and toss them under the tree. Okay so I'm not that bad. But, consumerism at it's peak doesn't tantalize my taste buds. Members of my family know all too well that a cashmere sweater or pearl earrings are the last thing they'll find in any brown box from me. Priceless smiles spread across their faces as they open up recycled envelopes detailing how a tree was planted in their name or Bengal tigers are now less endangered thanks to my gifted donation to the World Wildlife Fund.

Whenever possible I aim to give a non material or creative gift. Green, usually free or at least inexpensive and from the heart. What could be better? I've outlined wellness gift guides, last minute options, and ways to wrap with the Earth in mind, but below I offer up all my ideas on non-material, creative gift giving this season.
snowboarding with friends
Go for the Experience: One of the most memorable, creative presents you can give is the gift of an experience. Planning an adventure for you and your giftee means the world. Why? Because it takes time. One of, if not the most valuable thing we have. Our busy bee lives hardly allow us the time to take a lunch break, let alone an entire day or weekend with a best mate. Time is our most precious gift, so give it away often.

Such an adventure doesn't have to cost money. A hike, paddle or power walk along a beautiful coastline while chatting, laughing and being truly present in the moment means a lot without the penny pinch. Take time to think about the receiver and what would really make their soul sing.

Re-Gift: Okay okay, I know this is a complete no no in some people's books, but if you have something you don't use, or need chances are someone you know does. Take a quick look through your closet and look for those dangling white things called tags. Surprisingly you might find a few and realize if you haven't worn it, and it's your Mom's favorite color, bingo! instant free gift. Free, good for the planet and perfect for the type that you know definitely wants something material.

Inspire: "What do you want for Christmas Amber?" Uhh my mind went blank. I don't need a damn thing. Even as I sit in my empty apartment with a quarter of a closet full of clothes I can't say I truly need anything. Minimalism is my forte at the moment. Trying to stay minimal is actually incredibly challenging! People keep trying to give me things to fill my apartment. And when you don't need anything material what is left? Inspiration, motivation and ideas. Below are a few ways to spread the good vibes...

1.) Swap or give one of your favorite, mind blowing, life altering books. Examples: Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, Blink by Malcom Gladwell, The 4 Hour Work Week, by Tim Ferris, or Omnivores Dilemma by Michael Pollen.

Same thing goes for epic videos like The Planet Earth Series.

2.) Download ebooks or music. No paper used and cheaper than the real deal. Here are some great options from incredible bloggers...

Leo over at Zen Habits offers a handful of fantastic ebooks. My favorite include The Simple Guide to a Minimalist Life, and the best selling productivity manual on the net, Zen To Done.

Jonathan of Illuminated Mind wants you to steal his free ebook and I couldn't agree more. The Zero Hour Work Week works it's magic on everyone.

Colin's free ebook, How To Be Remarkable, was quite a remarkable success. Thousands upon thousands of copies were read and distributed throughout the self improvement blogosphere. Don't miss out on the advice hidden in this gem.

And who can forget about Kevin Gianni from The Renegade Health Show. This guy has so much enthusiasm and energy for raw, epic living it's contagious. You can watch his fun and educational videos and read through his detailed newsletters and archives for free. He'll change your outlook on nutrition and exercise forever. Pass on the expert advice to your loved ones.
raw dessert
Bake Up A Storm: People love food. Sharpen your baking or cooking skills while warming their hearts and taste buds. Try some of these vegan, raw dessert recipes on for size or dig through grandma's secret recipes. Wrap in biodegradable goods and viola!

Volunteer: Soup kitchens, tree planting organizations and the plethora of other community groups who do good year round would undoubtedly adore your helping hands this time of year. Bring a buddy or gather your family for a day of giving back. We must remember even in these difficult economical times that people all over the globe wake up with far far far far far less than you. The least we can do is support each other, consume less, and give more.

What ideas for green, free and non material gift giving can you come up with? What has worked in the past for you?

Happy "shopping!"




About the Author:

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