Images of families spending time together, wrapped with a red bow

Presents of Presence

I can't be the only one who finds giving gifts stressful. There seems to be a social expectation on the appropriate amount of money you need to spend on a person, increasing the closer they are to you. The over indulgence of the holidays is stressful for anyone who experiences eco-anxiety like I do, both from the painful consumerism of it all and the fallout waste it creates.

As a relatively new parent, I've also witnessed how overwhelming it can be for little kids - a furry of gifts piled in front of them with little time to explore and be appreciative before another appears, paired with a weeks worth of sugar in one day. It doesn't send a good message, and I for one am looking forward to resetting some expectations this year.

Whether money is tight, or you're just DONE with Amazon, it's time to embrace gifts of our time, presence, and skills instead of arbitrary junk in order to fulfill an arbitrary budget.

After a lot of Pinteresting, articles and self-reflection, here is a list of ways that I will be giving and requesting for Presents of Presence this year:  

  1. Baby sitting: We love them, but we love a night out without them. Your gift of time and care will help a busy parent balance their own self-care. 
  2. Pet sitting: Pets can't sit themselves when you're on vacation! Finding a safe and happy home for a fur baby takes a load off a pet parent's mind when they need to go out of town.
  3. Home Maintenance: I know my honey-do list is a mile long! Even small home mainentance can get overwhelming, so if you're handy with maintenance, offer to give your time and skillz. 
  4. Decorating: While not necessarily maintenance, giving a room a fresh coat of paint or hanging up some shelves or pictures can really brighten up a place. Grab a brush and a screw driver a offer your services! 
  5. Gardening: Gardens are amazing, complicated and time consuming. Grab your gloves and dig in - a friend in the garden is always time well spent. 
  6. Date Night IOUs: Good House keeping assembled a list of 100 date ideas. Print them out, glue them on little cards, pop them in a jar, and bingo-bango, you have a year or more unique ideas for date night.
  7. Meal Prep: A gift of meal prep is like giving a gift of time. For busy families or people stuck in a meal rut, having a well organized plan can be a lifesaver!  Whether you put together comprehensive meal plans, recipes and shopping lists, or go the extra mile and put together frozen meals, taking this daily task off your friend is such a gift. 
  8. Movie, Theatre, or Concert tickets: Who says you can't give yourself a little gift while you're at it? Find a movie, play, or concert that you will both enjoy and grab a couple tickets! 
  9. Tickets for a Sportsing Events: Same goes for those who are into sportsing. Go local sportsball team! Woot woot! Bonus points for including an IOU for a drink or snack at the game. 
  10. Local Adventures: Spend some time in nature or at a museum or art gallery, there are probaly a ton of really fun day trips in your community. Plan a whole day out and make your own "Ticket" to gift.
  11. Craft Afternoon or Evening: Fun for kids and grown ups alike! Collect all your art supplies and hit up Pinterest for creative ideas. It doesn't even matter if your craft looks like the dog threw it up - it's about the time spent together and the memories made. 
  12. Board Game Night: Whether this gift comes with a new game, or a well-loved favourite, or even borrowing one from the library, spend an evening battling each other or teaming up in a cooperative. There is a board game to suit everyone, guaranteed.  
  13. Home Spa Night: Everyone needs a little pampering now and then, even the dudeliest dudes. A good foot soak, a hand treatment, some face  masks...add some wine and chatting to the mix and you got yourself a stellar evening. 
  14. Homecooked meal: Spend an evening at home celebrating your friendship. Cooking together can be part of the experience, or have everything prepped and ready to go when your recipient arrives. Their favourite meal, decadent desserts, and a fancy aperitif sounds like a brilliant gift to me! 
  15. Restaurant Meal: Not too much explaining needed here! Spend an evening at your favourite restaurant, or be adventurous and find a cuisine you've never tried before!
  16. Donation: We all have causes that are close to our heart. Make your gift extra special by finding a meaningful charity to donate to. One Earth is a wonderful place to start. 
  17. Membership: If you and your recipient have a shared love of art, science, history, or whathaveyou, consider a membership you can both enjoy and try to work a reoccurring date into your schedules. 
  18. Classes: Wanna learn a new skill? Or at least have fun trying it out? Find a local class for you and your bud to partake in. Try something out of your comfort zone like glassblowing or parkour! The more outlandish, the more memories. 
  19. Weekend Away: Preplan a great weekend away! Locations could be camping, a staycation weekend, or inviting your friend or relative to spend the weekend at your place! Perfect for grandparents and aunt's and uncles to spend more time with the little guys. 
  20. Giftee's Choice: An often overlooked, but really effective strategy is to just ask your friend or family member what you could do to help them out or to treat them. It could be as simple as a coffee and ear; the gift is your time and attention, and the 


Do you have any other ideas? I'd love to try them on for size!!

Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.