Gifting Guide | Gifts For The Creative Spark!

A Fierce Gifting Guide Creative Spark

QUICK LIST! (Read More Below)
1. Flow Magazine
2. The Found Object Creativity Kit by Molly Anthony
3. Starry Night Embroidered Christmas Ornament by Jennifer Bilton
4. Vintage Postage Stamps
5. Stationery and Letter Writing Tools, Screech Owl Design
6. Bored and Brilliant (The Book!) by Manoush Zomorodi
7. Duh, Sharpies!!!!!
8. Powder Keg Writing Workshop Hand Painted Prompt Cards by Suzi Banks Baum

Oh how I want to write glowing reasons why these are all perfect gifts for living A BIG, CREATIVE LIFE, and why (in the case you want to give a gift) these are all EXCELLENT options. (Especially if you want to give YOURSELF a gift.) But, since it's curfew and I'm zonked - dig around in the links about and it will take you all of five seconds to know why and how these are excellent gifts for sparking juicy, positive, creative goodness!

A Fierce Gifting Guide | Manual for Meaningful Giving

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Get out your heart compass and let's get to work. What exactly does it mean to give a meaningful gift? And meaningful to whom? Especially in this time of easily accessible stuff and already having everything we need - what does it mean to give a true gift, and how can we radically rethink the gifting time of year. First, take a peek at the Gift Giving Self-Assessment...and then come on back for this!

A Fierce Gifting Guide | Manual for Meaningful Giving

  1. Just in case you need it, this Manual is actually your permission slip to let go of all your previous associations, expectations, assumptions, habits, traditions, and everything else you hold about how you give gifts. Obligation breeds resentment - so let go of all of that and start with a fresh slate. 
  2. Should is for suckers*. Just keep that in mind. And then notice anytime a should pops into your gift giving thought process.  Treat should like an indicator - a warning light reminding you to pay attention and dig a little deeper.
  3. Gifts (much like puppies) have needs. Not all the time, but often. So, consider what impacts your gift will have on the person receiving it. Does it fit in her life: energetically, emotionally, spatially, financially, and otherwise?
  4. For whom are you actually purchasing this gift? Is it truly because it's something the giftee will love and use and cherish or enjoy, or is it because you love it and think everyone else will too? (4a. The parallel here is Are you gifting based on what you want/need/crave?)
  5. Is your gift wanted or needed? (This is just my personal opinion...but as a person who is truly trying to collect less stuff - this is a really important question.) Consider if, and how, a gift fits in someone's life - literally or metaphorically.
  6. A. If you do have to gift something (as in a tangible, wrappable item): consider something handmade or locally made that supports a real person, artist or livelihood. B. Even better, entertain the idea of something that doesn't stick around forever because it has a useful, and useable lifespan: adult beverages, holiday baked goods, festive wreaths, soaps, quality candles and the like. The joy is in actually consuming these little gems, and they never steal permanent closet space. 
  7. Do you find yourself giving just to give? (Just press pause, see what happens.)
  8. There's no rule that everyone has to get a gift, or that everyone has to get a different, unique gift. Would the world end if you just skipped it, or if you gifted the same letterpress stationery set (in different colors) to all your pals?
  9. Once you give a gift, it's gone. It's out of your hands. You have no more power over it. You can't complain or bicker if the gift doesn't get used, or gets used differently than you planned or sits in a drawer or whatever. Real gifts don't have strings attached. This rule always helps me decide on a gift option...thinking through my own attachment and expectations. So, remember - once it's out of your hands, it's truly out of your hands. (Okay, fine - you can totally judge if you don't get a thank you card, but other than that you don't have any say about how a gift is used.)

Well, how about that? Anything that you really want to add to the Manual For Meaningful Giving? Plunk your ideas in the comments, or drop me a line! Happy Holly-Jolly Gifting Season! Stay tuned for easy gift guides for small gifts, kiddo gifts, gifts for creatives and so much more over the next couple days!

A Fierce Gifting Guide | Self Assessment

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(Well's here!) 

Welcome to The Fierce Gifting Guide! Since this Gift Guide is all about challenging the status quo and breaking down walls and creating new habits and noticing (that's what we do around here) - Let's get down to business with some quick introspection.

When was the last time you actually stopped to think about the gift part of the holiday season? Do you ever pause to ponder all this gift giving, and why it happens? And, more importantly, why and how you choose to participate in it?

Yes, I want to focus on the "choose" part of gifting because all of gifts we give are actually a choice, even if it doesn't really feel like it. And, by choice,  I mean more than just the decision between Barbie or Ken or both. Even though the entirety of the world is now told to go out and buy! buy! buy! immediately after washing the Thanksgiving dishes, there's no rule set in stone that you actually have to do it. (PS: Just notice the lack of emphasis on give! give! give!) Sure, there may be a lot of tradition and expectation and peer pressure and noise from the world around you - but you actually have the agency to choose if, how, when, where and what to gift throughout the holiday season. (It may not feel that way, but I promise it's true.) 

So, although you may already be knee-deep in shopping lists or purchases or already wrapped presents (who the heck are you? you overachiever!) ... here's a 15 point check-in list to orient you to some of your deepest and truest feelings about gift giving. (Psst, there's no judgement here, okay. None from me to you. And I hope certainly none from you to you.) This little list of questions is intended to be a chance to really pause, undo all the layers, and poke around at your MOST TRUE AND HONEST FEELINGS (gulp) about the gift-y time of year. I fully recognize that we all come to the gifting process with very different likes and loves and dislikes and loathes and histories and things that make us excited (or groan). Maybe your responses (and your most gust-level-feelings) can provide some guidance for your attitudes and actions around 'gifts' season.

Instructions. Grab a writing implement if you feel like it. This can be done in your head, but it's less fun. Read each question below and sit with it. Take a moment to notice how it makes you feel. (In your gut, on your skin, wherever and however you feel things.) Then jot down a few notes. Just go for it. There's no answer key. There's no other page to flip to that tells you what your gift giving profile is based on your answers. (Geez, this isn't Cosmo). And believe me, there is no right or wrong answer. Just consider this a chance to start from scratch and ponder how you may actually feel about giving (or not giving) gifts.

A Fierce Gifting Guide | Gift Giving Self-Assessment*

  1. Draw a horizontal line on a piece of paper. On one side write "I LOVE GIFT SEASON" on the other side write "I HATE GIFT SEASON" draw an X on the line indicating where you fall on this spectrum of loving and hating gift giving season. (Don't think LOVE/HATE suits you? Use whatever modifier you want).

  2. What do you love or like most about gifting season and the gifting process? List as many things as you like. (Think broadly. Here's some suggestions: coming up with gift ideas, shopping, finding the perfect gift, supporting local artisans, pretty wrapping paper, presents under the tree, spending money, making people happy by giving, making dreams come true. It's your list, just get to it.)

  3. What do you loathe or like least about gifting season and the gifting process? (Suggestions: Shopping, crowds, spending cashola, unappreciative receivers, shipping stuff to far away places, a sense of obligation, socks, the feeling that everyone already has everything so what's the point of gifts.) [Okay, I see that those suggestions may be a bit biased, so just think about what it may be for you. Even if you LOVE gifting season I bet there is at least one thing you dislike.)

  4. Think of FIVE WORDS that describe WHY you give gifts during the holly season. Any five words that feel true to you. (Even if they are negative words. This is your chance to be honest. Once you've scribbled all five words, re-write them as a list with the most important word at the top of the list, and the least important word on the bottom.***

  5. Think back to Gift Season 2016 (and all the gift seasons before). Is there one (or two or five) things that you remember feeling strongly during or after gift season? Any mental notes or Next year I want to remember to's... that you should actually remember while you have the chance? (Maybe it's about what you gifted, or how you gifted it, or when. Maybe it's a feeling you had. A memory? Jot it down. If it's still with you, it's probably important.

  6. What is the ONE most favorite gift you have received in your whole entire life? Who gifted it to you? What made it so special to you?

  7. Draw a large square. Draw a line down the middle. At the top of the left column write "GIFTS I LOVE TO RECEIVE". At the top of the right column write "GIFTS I AM LESS EXCITED TO RECEIVE". (Sure, replace "less excited" with any word you want.) This list can be more than just the gifts themselves: consider types of gifts, what a gift requires of you, how the gift is used, etc. Then, translate this to your gift giving mentality.

  8. Do you buy a gift because you like it OR because you know that the recipient will like it (or needs it / has space for it / has asked for it / can afford to use it, etc.) [Yup, I know that's a leading question]

  9. Do you give gifts because you usually give gifts and it would feel weird / bad / odd / not generous to just stop giving gifts or give radically different types of gifts? (This is in line with the whole challenge of "not doing", and noticing just how hard it can be to stop habits and actions that we've engaged for a long time. And the only way to practice is to actually not do - and that can be a very scary way to test if not doing is going to serve you or not.)

  10. Is there a whole group of people that you give gifts to but don't feel you have the time / money / capacity / interest / desire to actually give gifts to? (EG: office mates, teachers, super-extended family, neighbors etc). [Flip side: is there anyone (or a group) of people you really want to gift, but can't find the time / money / etc?]

  11. Do you ever give gifts just because you feel you should? Out of a sense of obligation?

  12. Is your heart in it?

  13. Money Money Money Money...Money! (Sing it!) What's the relationship between your wallet and your gift giving? Do you set a budget? Do you end up spending more than you want or planned? Do you pay the price (or interest) throughout the year? Do you feel like you should be giving more? How does this all make you feel (like in your bones or belly)?

  14. Do you gift out of habit?

  15. Do you like opening gifts in front of other people?

Okay, that's it. You're all grown ups, so now that you have all this information from yourself, YOU can choose how to act on it. Maybe the Meaningful Giving Manual will help sort things out more. Or maybe some of the gift ideas over the next few days will spark new gifting routes for you (if that's what you think you might want to do).

*Dear goodness, help us all. This is a terrible name. If you have suggestions for what to call this, please drop a line when you read this.
**For sure my answer to this is Dad's tradition of identifying something he wants, buying it, wrapping it and putting it under the tree. The first year he did this it was a bag of white tube socks. He tore open the gift with utter surprise, then wrapped his arms around himself in a hug while saying "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you" I laugh every single time I think about this. My present-giving memories are almost always about sitting down together and opening presents. I think it's the presence that I like most.
***I feel like "OBLIGATION" may end up on a few lists.

Gifting Guide

A Fierce Practice Gift Guide

For the past few months, I've really wanted to put together a Gift Guide for this holiday season. Something simple. A list of a few of my favorite things that also make great, quick, easy gifts for the season of (obligatory and laborious) gifting. As soon as the topic came up through the A Fierce Practice #TinyLetter, it took all of three seconds to realize the whole topic of gifting is WAY MORE COMPLEX than just a one page infographic with my favorite soaps and mugs and a short treatise on buying nice things from real people. 

In so many cases we have so much, and need for so little. And we recognize that everyone else has SO MUCH STUFF too. And that STUFF is a problem...just as much as the obligation to give stuff during this time of year. So, stay tuned over the next couple of days for a Gift Giving Self-Assessment (if you have a sexier name for this, please let me know), a Guide to Meaningful Giving, permission to give (and do) less - along with fun gift ideas for kiddos, creatives, experiences and consumables, low cost quick gifts, and a few more things that I haven't quite put my finger on yet. 

More to come!!! Hope to see you back here, or over on the Tiny Letter.