For most of us, the holidays are a sweet time to revisit traditions that connect us to our families, friends and spiritual practices. We know these connections increase our feelings of well-being. We may also experience the stress that comes with days of shopping for perfect gifts and brace ourselves for the influx of stuff into our already full house. The research is clear that although our consumption of material goods has doubled in the past 50 years, our happiness levels have flatlined.
Here’s an interesting bit of info…nearly 7 in 10 Americans said they would skip exchanging gifts this holiday season if their friends and family agreed to it, according to a new survey conducted online by Harris Poll on behalf of SunTrust Banks, Inc. (NYSE: STI). A majority of those who spend time buying or making gifts (60 percent) said they would spend more time with friends and family if they didn't have to worry about gifts.
Consider that the time, energy and money you spend buying gifts for others could actually be spent with others. Maybe this season you could focus on shared experiences rather than exchanging gifts.
Here are some ideas to help you honor your connections by spending time together rather than shopping:
1. Be Together: Create a gift card for your parents that includes an afternoon at the museum and dinner out with you. Or together research and choose one of the micro loaning non-profits such as Kiva.org (http://www.kiva.org) to support small businesses throughout the world.
2. Plan Family Nights: Gather around the kitchen table and create a monthly family night. For each month in the next year plan: a movie night, visit a new restaurant, library event, live theater, local and regional state parks, bike ride to breakfast, streetcar ride to river market, Union Station, museum visit, volunteer work, art class, or a family cooking class. We have a city full of amazing opportunities.
3. Find a Good Cause: For those who have everything, check CharityNavigator.org (http://www.CharityNavigator.org) to find a highly rated charity that supports a cause this person is passionate about. Don’t forget about our local Harvesters.org (http://www.Harvesters.org) a community food network; they are happy to have monetary donations and your hands-on help.
Start a conversation with your family and friends to explore how you can create new traditions focused on using your time, energy and money to create experiences together rather than shopping for things. This new way of living through the holidays may be just the connection and relief and you are looking for.
This year, peace on earth can begin with you.
Let me know if you have questions & take good care of yourself! Nikki