’Tis the season. Year after year Christmas is approaching faster than before, and year after year all the companies are touting for attention and want you to buy their stuff. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE giving presents and it’s okay to buy certain things, I just get upset at this crazy form of boundless consumption, at the assumed pressure of having to buy all those things. Let’s be honest: what do we actually need? And what does our world need? More (poorly made) stuff? Shouldn’t the whole process of gifting be joyful for everyone involved? Giving love, and real appreciation doesn’t cost a thing, it only needs a little time, thought and creativity. So let’s be open-minded this year and think about all the beautiful things to gift that money can’t buy. Here are some ideas to start with…

1. Pressed flower subscription

I can be pretty old-school when it comes to etiquette sometimes, I love bringing flowers when invited – it’s just such a classy form of appreciation. An extended version of your standard bouquet are pressed flowers, which will bring your loved ones joy for a little longer. If you’ve never pressed flowers, it’s easier than you think; for the low key version all you need is a pile of books and a little patience. When they’re ready and perfectly flat, carefully glue them onto (postcard-sized) white cardboard. A special way to gift these little artworks made by nature is through a pressed flower subscription, where you promise to send pressed flowers from wherever you go for a year. This will allow you to share your journeys in a very special and personal way and surprise your lovelies with stunning flora from foreign places in their every day life. When picking flowers all around the world though, make sure to be humble and not harm any places or plants under protection – mama nature has feelings too!

2. Write a cookbook together

Your friend loves to cook? Your grandma knows all those killer recipes that need to be kept? You always cook as a family? How about gifting the idea to write a cookbook together? And this one does not need a fancy cover, big release or to be sold by an agent, it’s just about you two (or three, four, five) people, doing this. You can start, writing down a few or your favorite creations as a start or gift an empty notebook with the special name of your collective cookbook on the covers and circulate that baby around. I’m sure the outcome is gonna be tasty as heck and so much more precious than any cookbook you could have purchased. Happy cooking!

(© Tabea Mathern)

3. Give away your things

Remember the sweater of yours, that your best friend really likes? The necklace that your sister always wants to borrow from you, because it works so well with her wardrobe? Do you really need those things yourself so much or do you have enough stuff anyway? Sure, you like that sweater too, but trust me, the look on your loved ones face is worth letting go of it for. Big time.

4. Donate a day

Giving someone a day of your life may sound like such a simple idea, but think about it: in the end our time on this planet is our most precious resource – giving someone 24 hours of it is a big deal. Create a beautiful self-made 24-hours voucher and just go with whatever connects you as friends and makes you feel good: a sleepover, filled with giggles and chocolate, a day spent in all the museums, a short trip to a favorite place? You decide!

5. Send someone an inspirational story per month for a year

Another subscription – I just love the idea of long-term presents. How about sending your presentee an inspirational story or little letter every month for a year? It doesn’t have to be much, little anecdotes can turn a day around sometimes. Did you experience something that made you think of someone? Tell them! Know your friend is into certain topics? Go find a fun story about it. Either send your stories via email or if you’re as nostalgic as me, via actual mail. I’m just a sucker for paper and it makes things more collectable.

6. Help fulfil a dream

We are all different; for some of us it’s easier to just go for it, try things out and not be afraid, while for others some things seem like this giant task they can’t solve. Not being alone in the process often helps a lot, so giving a friend or family member the support to fulfil a long desired dream is one of the most generous things you could give. It’s about listening properly, exchanging ideas and finding step-by step solutions to get closer to someone’s goal. You can do this. Together.

(© Tabea Mathern)

7. Give a photoshoot

While it may feel like everybody is always taking photos, intentional photo shoots are still rare for most people. If you’re good behind the camera and with people you’ll probably give a lot of joy when you propose to finally take that family shot or a beautiful portrait of your friend. Doing so will also help you to improve your photography skills. Practicing with people you feel at ease with always is a good starting point for your future photography. Happy snapping!

8. Skill coupon book

You’ve got so many talents you can’t decide which ones to gift? Or your friends are so great they deserve more than one present? How about giving a whole skill coupon book: Major tasks are as good as minor ones, like watching the dog, taking care of the kids, helping out in the garden, preparing a romantic picnic, cooking a favourite dish… you name it!

(© Tabea Mathern)

9. Draw a personal (Google) map

Not the crafty kind of person? We got you covered! Google Maps lets you create and share your very own map and mark all the places you want to. How about making a private map of the world with all the spots that connect you and your presentee? Anything goes, from the town you both were born in to the bar in London you had that wild night together. You can also share future plans, like proposing to go to a restaurant you think your friend really likes or sharing destinations for future vacations.

10. World journey through your home town

Got no money but still wanna travel the world together? All you need is little creativity and you can make it work: Prepare a special journey through your home town for you and your friends or family: start with a full on English breakfast at your place, stop at the Asian supermarket to get a treat, have lunch in the new African place, meet your friends’ family from Turkey en route for tea, go to the exhibition of a French artist… I’m sure you’ll be able to see much more of the world in your town than you thought when doing your research and opening your mind. Draw a map with all your stops, share it and go out on an adventure!

11. Help others together

Most of us know this overwhelming feeling of wanting to do something for the community and our planet, but not knowing where to start. Just research a certain organization in your town that needs help and gift the plan to become involved together. It’s all about starting somewhere and it’s always easier if you have someone to push you. There are so many hard working volunteers out there that need help; do shifts in a homeless shelter, teach (newly arrived) kids, become a food saver, work with the elderly… helping others is priceless and doing so together will tighten you and your loved one’s bond even closer.

12. Learning something new together

Speaking of pushing each other and motivation; isn’t there a certain craft or skill that you and your friend have been wanting to learn or do forever? How about gifting to finally tackle it? Organize a day and all the (learning) materials and go for it – there are so many helpful articles and free instructions online. If you feel like you need help from outside be aware that many cities offer learning programs for grown ups that are often more affordable than you might have thought. In Germany and Berlin for example it is the VHS that will surprise you with almost every topic you could think of. You can also check out your local library for helpful books and movies, often they can also help you with programs and workshops. Have fun exploring!

Hope we got you a little inspired, what do you wanna surprise your loved ones with this year? ♡