Gift thoughtfully this holiday season

Thoughtful gift giving

What makes a gift truly thoughtful? When I think about gift giving, one story is permanently stuck in my brain.

When I worked at a health food store years ago, a man came in around the holidays asking to buy an entire case of pasta as a Christmas gift. I thought this was totally weird. He explained that his friend had a child with celiac disease and that he learned how expensive gluten-free pasta is (and I think it was even more expensive back then, because it was way less common) so he thought it might be a nice gift. I’m pretty sure he ended up spending about $150 (Canadian) on a massive case of gluten-free pasta. It wasn’t beautiful, and it wasn’t Zero Waste (allergy-specific products almost never are) but it sticks out in my mind as one of the most thoughtful gifts I had ever heard of. Yeah, it was weird, but imagine how happy he made that family!

With this story in mind, here are a few tips I like to think about when I give a gift:

  1. Really stop and think about the recipient. it’s about them, after all, not what I’d like to receive. What’s their unique situation? Have they just moved into a new place and really need everyday items, or do they have a small home and desperately want to avoid more “things”? What’s going on in their world?
  2. Straight-up ask them what they want! It’s not tacky, it’s helpful.
  3. Consider experiences, or other non-physical gifts. These cut down on waste and can be way more fun. (Check out my post “The Ultimate List of Experience and Low-Waste Gift Ideas”). 
  4. If they say that they don’t want a gift, respect their wishes. I know, I love giving gifts too, so this is a tough one for me! But I remind myself that it’s all about the recipient.


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