5 Thoughtful No-Shopping-Required Gifts for the Season of Giving

The Paine of Measurement, December 2020

Happy whatever-holiday-you-chose-to-celebrate! Whichever one that is, the retail-industrial establishment hopes that you see this as the season of buying.

The rest of us talk about the season of giving.

A good friend of mine recently declared that she wasn’t going to send me a gift this year, but rather would donate to the charity of my choice. When she asked me for my preferred cause, I said that all I wanted her to give me was Democratic control of the Senate. Wasn’t exactly what she had in mind — or in her power. Still, I sent her a link to support on-the-ground organizing in Georgia. 🙂

But she’s got a good point. There are so many, many things we don’t need any more of: ties, stockings, heels, makeup, frequent flyer miles. And there are so many things that we do need more of: distraction, friendship, a shoulder to cry on, jobs and, yes, food.

And so I got to thinking of all the things that we might want to give during this weird 2020 holiday season. Things that don’t require a trip to a store, or wrapping paper, or even a click on Amazon…

Give better

Figure out how to make life better for the friends and relatives you normally shop for. Think of all the time you spend shopping and wrapping and mailing things, and spend that time instead FaceTiming them or writing them a letter. Or maybe help them get better at learning online, figuring out Zoom, organizing their lives, or playing the ukulele. Whatever it is, it’s going to have a longer-lasting impact than that sweater they didn’t need.

Give change

No, not the spare change you put into those Red Kettles. The change that means a difference to your neighborhood, your community, your country, or your world. Sure, you can give a monetary donation. In our current difficult times it is greatly needed — and will be greatly appreciated.

But if you’re not feeling flush, then why not volunteer your time at an organization that will change the world, or at least your community? It doesn’t even have to be in person. Many a non-profit is looking for board members or advisory board members these days, and all the meetings are on Zoom.

Give health

Wear a mask or give one. Offer to run errands for people who are most vulnerable. Or stay home — stay healthy — and call someone; we’d all be better off with a phone call from a friend.

Give talent

Lend your skills and talents to someone who needs them. Consider my friend who is OCD and just loves to organize things. We have a mutual friend whose toolbox and work area was a total mess. So, as a gift, she spent the day putting every socket in the right place and making the whole place sparkle.

Another friend is giving her amazing cooking skills as a prize in a local church auction, offering to cook a dinner for 4. I just helped a buddy prepare for his girlfriend’s moving in by using my skill with drawer liners to make the bathroom presentable. (I talked him out of Contact paper.)

Give knowledge

Are you good at getting bargains on eBay? Locating hard-to-find replacement parts? Know your way around Zoom or Teams? Making wreaths or jam? Package your knowledge up into a present.

A friend of mine was lamenting that she couldn’t find a way to store her spices in her far-too-small kitchen. I found the perfect adjustable shelf.  The shelf was a nice gift, but it was my ability to find exactly what was needed that she appreciated most. 

And speaking of knowledge, consider the gift of local news. Remember the vital first amendment, the foundation of democracy? Remind someone that Facebook is not journalism and help spread fact-based news by giving someone a subscription to your home town paper. Do a little research, first, though; your local paper might not be locally owned.

Our December 2020 issue

And for you, dear readers, for our December 2020 issue we’ve wrapped up a bit of all things measurement in 2020:

Until next year, happy holidays and measure on,

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay.

About Author

Katie Paine

I've been called The Queen Of Measurement, but I prefer Seshat, the Goddess.