Moth and Toad Apothecary

Herbalism, self-sufficiency, and low-waste living

How to Gift Thoughtfully This Holiday

As an herbalist, I place the Earth and its ecosystems on a pedestal of utmost respect and importance. It has always been a soothing, constant place of sacred inspiration for me. I do my best to avoid making excessive waste, and to educate others on low waste, Earth-conscious living. I advocate for companies to make changes in their wasteful practices, and do my best as a producer to create low waste products as well. All this to say, celebrating Valentine’s day traditionally, with chocolate boxes and plastic decorations, doesn’t sit well within my lifestyle. I know it doesn’t sit well with most people, but without guidance, it can be hard to make the switch to a more sustainable day of gifting!

I don’t want to abandon commercialized holidays just because they are usually celebrated in a wasteful way; I have found tremendous joy and meaning in these holidays, and I don’t want to lose the happiness they’ve brought me. Instead, I want to celebrate them in the best way I know how, with reusable gifting options, and meaningful selections! Here are some tips I have accumulated throughout my time as a gifter and giftee. I hope they inspire you to have a more meaningful holiday!

Don’t Gift Something They Won’t Use

Always gift something your giftee will use or enjoy! As much as I would like to give everyone a big pot of flowering calendula, I know not everyone can–or wants to–care for a plant. If you can’t think of something your giftee will use or enjoy, ask them for ideas! I always appreciate being asked what I want as gifts, because it gives me an opportunity to share my needs without feeling impositional. When a gift has been requested, you know it will be well received.

You can also organize your gifting efforts with someone who lives with or knows the giftee well to ensure you’re getting them a thoughtful and wanted gift.

Think About the Type of Gift You Want to Give

Think about each giftee individually, and decide on what you’re looking for before you go shopping or set out to find a gift. I like to use a system I made that consists of 4 types of gifts to get started.

  • a practical gift – something the giftee needs and will use. Examples include needed kitchen appliances or bedding in their favourite colour/style. These gifts tend to be best received by close family members and friends, and should be given thoughtfully.
  • a consumable gift – something the giftee loves to eat, use, or will be able to make something out of. Examples include crafting supplies, tea, date night money, or a gourmet candy bar from their favourite shop.
  • a touching gift – something meaningful that the giftee will understand the love and importance of. Examples include letters about how much you appreciate them, a collage of memories you experienced together, or a playlist of songs that remind you of them.
  • an act of service – something you can do for the giftee to make their life easier, or to improve their day in some way. Examples include painting the trim around the house, mending broken fences, or helping with other household chores without having to be asked.

Once you’ve decided on what kind of gift you’d like to give the giftee, it becomes much easier to find something meaningful and waste-free. It also makes it less likely that you’ll overspend, because you have a shopping list of sorts to work with.

Here’s an example scenario:

I want to give my mother something special for Valentine’s Day to show her how much I love and appreciate her. She’s picky about consumables, I already do a lot around the house, and I just bought her a practical gift for Christmas, so I want to give her something touching.

In this case, I think a poem accompanied by something like a handmade card from all of my siblings would be a great gift. She would feel valued, would not throw the gift away, and there is no waste in its production. Not only does this gift sit well within my lifestyle and personal ethics, but it also will be special to her and mean something.

Think of Something They Enjoy, and Use it in Your Gift

We all know one or two things that our giftees enjoy, unless they’re strangers. Pick one or two things that you know they enjoy and theme the gift off of them.

Great places to start for consumables include scents, flavours, hobbies, and imagery. For touching gifts, think of what matters to them the most. For practical gifts, use imagery they enjoy, animals they love, and decor styles they tend to use in their home. For acts of service, think of what they always ask for help with, or seem overwhelmed with.

Here’s another scenario, where we go out and purchase a gift using our themes:

I want to give my aunt a gift because she’s so sweet! I don’t know what kind of edible consumables she would enjoy, and I don’t live with her so a practical gift and act of service are out of the equation. That leaves me with consumables that aren’t edible and touching gifts. I decide to go with a consumable gift! Let’s say I know she likes fruity, floral scents, and enjoys skincare. I could then go to the store and find an item that has these ideals in mind! I could go for a body butter with the scent she likes, or a spa day collection with skincare tools and bath salts that have the same scent.

Gifting should always be done thoughtfully to avoid waste, and to strengthen the relationships you have. By contemplating the perfect gift, you’re bound to make their day! Anyone can become a great gifter with the right outlook and a bit of introspection. Let me know if this helped you, and remember to share this guide with others so they can become great gifters, too!

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