MANILA, Philippines – Ah, Christmas. For Christians, it’s a joyous moment that celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
It’s a season of giving blessings, sharing enriching experiences, and supporting the people close to your heart.
It’s also the only time of the year when your relatives (who you thought were missing) show up at your doorstep and drop subtle hints about their preferred gifts – including the price range (“Oh, anything higher than P500 is fine!”), the quantity (“I hope you get me 5 pieces, hehe!”) and the product specifications (“I want the 2014 model, light pink, version AJD6549263 point 83. You know what? I’ll email you the picture, please print it on your own na lang.”)
The ridiculousness surrounding the idea of Christmas gift-giving made me wonder: Since when was Christmas about competition?
Who said that giving more expensive gifts is better? Who was it who dictated that you should only give materialistic gifts? Who made Christmas all about consumerism? (You know who I’m talking about!)
Christmas gifts aren’t about the cost, the competition or the commercial value – they’re about the meaning that they can give to the people who matter to you.
As such, there are only 6 Christmas gifts that you should consider giving to your loved ones:
1. A sprinkle of joy
Start spreading love and kindness during this Christmas season. Donate a “noche buena” package to a family who needs it and name your loved one as the donor. Give an “I admire you because…” jar to your recipient and make them realize how much you appreciate them. Or, you can even give them movie tickets to a movie that you know they’re excited to watch.
2. A healthy body
Some recipients may mock you for giving them a prepaid health card as a Christmas gift, but they’ll definitely thank you when they’re running out of cash and running out of breath at the same time.
You know that everyone is bound to get sick at some point in his life. Also, most prepaid health card nowadays offer free annual physical exams, so this is a gift that’s going to be really useful.
3. A dash of knowledge
If she’s still in preschool, grade school or high school, contribute to her college education plan. If she’s in college, give her books that focus on managing money wisely, applying for jobs successfully or starting a business effectively.
If he’s already working, give him a free ticket to an inspirational seminar, a career growth conference or a language school. If he’s already retired, give them free workshop seats for a specific hobby or recreational activity.
Education is a universal phenomenon that doesn’t discriminate – it doesn’t matter how old your recipient is!
4. A lot of time and presence
Don’t give a watch, silly. Give something more meaningful than that: your time and your presence.
Get a classy container and put all kinds of questions there – make sure to relate the theme of the questions to your relationship with your recipient. (You don’t want to ask your boss about skin care, now, do you?) Give it to your recipient.
Then, spend one whole afternoon with the recipient, get some coffee or tea together and just soak in each other’s greatness. Really digest what your loved one is saying, and listen, not just for the sake of hearing, but for the sake of understanding.
You can also share your time with people who are less fortunate than you. Ask your recipient to come with you and give back to the community.
5. Peace of mind
Our mind’s mood can dictate the quality of the decisions that we make, so it’s important that we take care of it accordingly.
If your recipient is stressed, give her a 2-week yoga pass, a hotel overnight stay, or a gift certificate that entitles her to an all-day pampering treatment at the spa. You don’t need to empty your bank account since you can do these in a more cost-effective way as well: give her a yoga video and a mat, get a hotel coupon that’s on sale or give her a home-made spa set instead.
6. The gift of natural giving
While you’re in a restaurant, spot a lucky table, ask for the server of that table and pay a stranger’s dinner bill. Gather your friends and organize a mini-food drive for a few families who are in need of holiday cheer. Go to a reputable charity organization and sponsor a child (or two!).
Hold on to your 13th month pay and Christmas bonus! (READ: 3 things you can do with your 13 month pay) Christmas is never about competition. At the end of the day, Christmas is about connection and collaboration.
Jesus doesn’t care about how much you’ve bought or how much you’ve spent – He cares about how many smiles you’ve inspired, how many blessings you’ve shared, and how many lives you’ve touched. – Rappler.com
Lianne Martha Laroya is a financial advisor. She’s also the founder of The Wise Living, a website dedicated to educate you on money management and early investing without boring you to tears. Get your FREE copy of her basic personal finance book for 20-somethings. Connect with her on Twitter,@MsLianneLaroya“
Photo of Christmas gifts from Shutterstock