How to Give More This Holiday Season
Simple (and free!) ways to give more to the people we love this holiday season.
The season of giving is upon us. As a minimalist, I'm not so concerned with shopping for or receiving gifts. I'm more focused on enjoying the opportunities to spend time with people I care about, reflect on the past year, and prepare for the new year. This holiday season, instead of racking your brain to figure out what you will buy everyone to show your appreciation, why not consider these alternative ways to bless those around you.
Pick up the phone and let someone know you miss them or was thinking about them. Sometimes we don’t know how much we’ve missed a person until we hear their voice on the other end.
Listen (before speaking).
Give the people you care about the opportunity to share their joys, wins, and struggles first. You don’t know what they’ve been holding inside and for how long. Give them a safe and open space to let it all out. Also, listening is a simple way to support someone. They may not need or want your advice or comments. They may just want to know someone hears them.
Send a card or letter.
If you don’t like talking on the phone, take the time to write your thoughts out in a letter or card. People don’t send snail mail anymore. We send emails, text, or talk on social media, but I always love getting something in the mail from a friend. I don’t know about you, but when I check the mail and see something that is not a bill or junk mail, I get excited! Brighten someone’s day with a handwritten note.
Spend time and not just money.
Our time is the most valuable thing we have to give because we cannot get it back after it’s gone. Instead of using your time to look for a gift, take that time to show someone you care by visiting. If you want to buy a gift too, bring something you can share like a bottle of wine or a meal.
Be there, in the here and now, while spending time with folks. Put your own thoughts, issues, and your cell phone away while you focus on the people around you and experience you're having together.
Listen (more than you speak).
You’ve probably heard this before, "We have two ears and one mouth for a reason". Listen twice as much as you speak. The more you listen, the more informed and understanding you can be when it’s the right time to speak. It’s also the reason why "listen" appears three times on this list.
Treat each relationship as unique.
In our relationships, we all have different needs and wants. Tailor each encounter to the nature of your relationship with that person. You may have one friend who is a homebody, another that likes to go out, or maybe a friend that is into DIYs and crafts. Focus on having a unique experience with each person.
Know love languages.
This goes along with treating each relationship as unique. Know how the people that matter to you, receive love. Do you they love affirmations, gifts, quality time, acts of service, or physical touch? Maybe someone needs a hug or could appreciate you running an errand for them. There are many ways to show love and it’s important to be aware of what others need to feel loved.
Mind your business.
We can reduce the drama that surfaces in some relationships by simply keeping our thoughts to ourselves in many cases. Everyone has an opinion, but it doesn’t mean it needs to be shared. We want to be there for the people in our lives, but don’t find yourself creating needless drama in situations that don't concern you.
We’re busy. We don’t have time. We don’t feel like it. There are a million reasons why we could say no, but try to say yes to more things that are good for your relationships with others. Put on your ugly sweater and go to that party.
Listen (to what’s not being said).
We don’t always say everything that’s on our minds. It could be for our sanity or self-preservation or we could be too proud, overwhelmed, or afraid to say what we really need. We also have to keep in mind, the holidays are not a joyous time for everyone. Be aware of cues such as tone, body language, and other ways people communicate without words. We are not mind readers, but we do have a natural ability to sense when there’s more to a story. After listening, you may need to ask some pointed questions to get to the heart of the matter and offer the proper support.
These are just a few gifts you can give freely to others. This holiday season, make some time to give the things money can't buy.
How are you giving more simply this year?
Editor's Note: This post was originally published as "11 Ways to Give More" on YolandaVAcree.com by Yolanda Acree. It has been edited and re-published on Black Minimalists with permission.
Yolanda views minimalism as a tool for personal and collective liberation. The inspiration for founding Black Minimalists was born out of her conversations and interviews with other black folks seeking a community representative of their culture and simple lifestyle. Yolanda also identifies as a creative, entrepreneur, and carefree black girl. You can find Yolanda talking all things simple living on her blog, yolandavacree.com and YouTube.