Finding Ways To Give, Beyond Gifting

Ana Zaldarriaga
Ana Zaldarriaga

Whether surfing online, scanning your Inbox, or flipping through a magazine with Oprah’s List of Favorite Things, social media influencers and marketers have been excitedly sending out their gift ideas for this season.

Our minds are working hard to manage the holiday season of giving, but giving doesn’t have to be gifting.

Our global and local economies have taken a huge hit in the past nine months, and we should do our best to support businesses as much as we can. Yet we are also facing the reality that many of us are struggling just to survive and make ends meet while trying to uphold some sense of normalcy, especially through the holidays.

At the end of this year, amidst the list of things to-do, it couldn’t be clearer after the year we’ve had that the best presents to give is presence. For this holiday season, maybe we should try something literally out of the normal holiday box since these certainly are not normal times. So, go for the unwrapped, boxless, ribbon-less, and un-shipped instead, it might be more priceless and extraordinary.

Here is another List of 11 Great Ways to Give in 2020:

  • Share your bookshelf favorites right now. It is can be inspirational and intimate to share your reading lists especially as we cozy up for some winter indoor activities. If you want some ideas for your own, check out this list.  Maybe you can start a book club with your community!  TED's Holiday Book List
  • Have you been baking bread? Or perfecting your ratatouille? If you can actually share or deliver food, then keep your loved ones and those in need in mind this holiday season. You can leave a food delivery curbside or if you’re in NYC, you can even leave prepared foods at any of the available Community Fridges.
  • If you can’t make a delivery, simply share some of the recipes that have become your favorite during this time. You can email them or print them as recipe cards or even make a digital book. We could all use some creative cooking ideas for our at-home dining.
  • Give a gift that keeps on giving. Mental health experts have emphasized the importance of self-care through care for a plant. We could all benefit from the journey of growth, so send some seeds in an envelope, or give a plant clipping from your own plants. Your holiday sentiment will continue well into the new year.
  • Remember when mixed tapes were all the rage? Well, they kinda’ still are. A new mix of music to your playlist can refresh your vibe and atmosphere. Share your favorite Spotify playlist and ask for one in return and 2021 can have a whole new soundtrack for your life.
  • Ancestry DNA has become a popular gift these past few years, but the value of family storytelling can’t be bought. Record a family story or curate a collection of short stories and share them with your family. If you really want to go big, ask family members to contribute to an anthology. Whether in print or a digital recording, this is definitely a gift that all will enjoy and your children will treasure.
  • Virtual, virtual, virtual! The family and friends that hang together, karaoke together, cook together, knit together, drink together, laugh together, stay together. If you haven’t used an app like Houseparty yet to hang out, or used Disney Group or Zoom to watch a movie together, go for it! A simple  gift can be a calendar of events that you set up and share. Hosting is hard, so lend a hand and it won’t be forgotten.
  • Photos – Take them, share them. This is a time to get creative at home and transform it into a photography studio. Put on your evening gown, accessorize, drape a drop-cloth and stage a scene. Then click! Create tableaus at home with your family or quarantine pod and you can either be a star of the setting or be a photojournalist. If you’re more into landscapes and settings, photograph those instead. Once you’re done, share them. And if photography isn’t your thing, simply share old photos of your friend and family through a digital collage or movie. Revisiting the past can provide the warmth of nostalgia and deep perspective that is equal to that yuletide log.
  • Gift a subscription – Hulu, Disney Plus, NY Times, a local newspaper or magazine, a delivery service, a meditation app. If your budget is tight, share your login and password instead 😊
  • Shop Your Store – Use this time to go through your excess and re-purposable items at home and create gift baskets for others in need. It could be unused toys, books, spa supplies, needed toiletries, fun games. Whatever it is, it could bring joy to those who could use some right now. Find a local organization or community who could benefit from your
  • Love. Remember this year, the best presents are presence. Give empathy, feelings, sentiments, connection, time. So above all, just let those you love know that you love them. You don’t have to wrap it or buy it but be sure to take your time when you say it. Schedule a time in person, on the phone or virtually, to give love and be intentional by saying: I…LOVE…YOU…YOU…ARE…A…GIFT…TO…ME. I…AM…HERE…FOR…YOU.

Be well, safe and sound during this holiday season.


Fatherly's List of Things to Do For Family You Can't See This Holiday Season

Community Fridges

TED's Holiday Book List




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Ana Zaldarriaga

By Ana Zaldarriaga

Ana Zaldarriaga Pronouns: she/her/hers Sr. Dir. of Employee Development The Leadership Program 535 8th Avenue, Floor 16 New York City, NY 10018 Phone: 212.625.8001 Fax: 212.625.8020 “…building strong leaders in classrooms and communities."