We know the true essence of the holidays are about time spent with our loved ones, but it's easy to get caught up in the commercial hype and feel Christmas just won't be right without the perfect gifts for everyone on our list. Many of us struggle with the traditional holiday paradox of giving to others without giving in to the trap of mass consumption.
Every year, we churn through a huge amount of waste and cash during this season. More than two billion cards are thrown away, and over $4 billion is spent on wrapping paper, decorations and gifts.
This year, why not call off the gift-buying craze and give from the heart instead? The best gifts often come packed with meaning, something money just can't buy.
As you gear up for Christmas, here are some tips to help you give more with less:
1. Make a coupon book filled with friendly gestures that loved ones can claim, such as breakfast in bed, a movie night at home, or even doing their washing or dishes while they take a nap. Be creative and make it personal to the loved ones who will receive your thoughtful gifts.
2. Find out what issues matter to your friends and family and pick a gift that will further that cause. Consider making a donation in their name to the charity they support, or buying a socially-conscious product where the proceeds go to help people living in poverty.
3. Dig up a favourite old photo of a cherished family moment and frame it as a special gift you can all enjoy. Consider adding a quote with the photo to truly memorialize the moment.
4. If you're looking for unique gifts, you just might find them at a craft fair, car boot sale or a Christmas market. As you stock up on Christmas goodies, you'll also be supporting local businesses and artisans.
5. Instead of a gift exchange, arrange a get-together, afternoon tea or a night out and make some wonderful memories together. Make it a theme where everyone has to contribute - perhaps their favourite dish or dessert, or a hand-made gift that allows each artist to shine.
Want more tips for raising socially conscious kids? As an international charity and educational partner with an 18-year history of working with youth all over the world, Free The Children, among its many initiatives, provides educational resources for local and global issues to help you make a difference: From fun activities you can do at home to awareness and fundraising campaign. Visit www.freethechildren.com.
An initiative of Free The Children, We Day is a series of events that inspire and empower young people to be active local and global citizens. We Day UK makes its debut on March 7 at the Wembley Arena.