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Early Shopping—Mindful Ways to Approach Holiday Gift-Giving

With gentleness and intention, we can make our way through the busiest time of year with patience and joy.

Early and mindful gift shopping

My favorite of Aesop’s fables is the tale of the tortoise and the hare. Set during a race through the woods, the hare takes his speediness for granted, giving the languid but determined tortoise the time and space he needs to reach the finish line first.

Slow and steady, goes the famous moral of the story, wins the race.

This year, shouldn’t it be our guiding principle as we look ahead to the holiday season? A slow, steady investment of energy and preparation can usher us into fall and winter with peace and joy.

Gift-giving is a major opportunity to put this mindset into practice. You might be used to making a list, checking it twice and running around to get it all done, but between supply line and shipping delays, uncertain weather and the general stress of the long pandemic, this could be the year to slow way down, breathe deeply and make a gentle road for yourself through the busy season.

Shop Early

For years, people have lamented how “early” Christmas shopping seems to start. But really, they’re just talking about displays and decorations. In truth, you can buy holiday gifts at any time of the year. The earlier you start, the more you will be able to reflect on what make the most meaningful gifts—and you will enjoy the process far more than in a sprint toward the December finish line. Starting earlier will also give you the chance to set and maintain a budget, shifting directions if need be.

Shop Local

A gift you can give your community is to support local business owners who depend on every purchase to sustain their livelihoods. Stopping into a neighborhood bookseller, gift shop or specialty food store to pick up gifts will give you the chance to take a leisurely stroll around town and encourage your neighbors in their businesses—all while crossing items off your holiday to-do list.

Don’t Shop at All

“What if Christmas,” said Dr. Seuss’ Grinch, “doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” Taking your time through the holiday season gives you space to create meaningful gifts for loved ones that don’t require much shopping or cost a lot of money. A heartfelt Christmas card or letter is a gift. So is a plate of cookies, a small hand-crafted piece of home décor or a jar of jam. People will know how much they mean to you when you offer them a bit of cheer during the holidays—and there’s no such thing as a “small” gift when it’s offered with love.

Give the Gift of Time

Some of the best gifts are experiences, not objects. Your community might have an outdoor music series or holiday stroll, or, if you’re vaccinated against COVID, you might visit a museum or take in a show. Donating your time through volunteerism is another level of gift-giving to your loved ones and the greater community. Even preparing and sharing a meal with your loved ones is a gift of time well spent—together.

How are you planning to take an early but “slow and steady” approach to gift-giving this year?

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