Non-physical gifts

Recently, I covered which physical items might make nice, ethically sourced gifts. And these are lovely – everyone like presents! – but so many of us already have all the items we could possibly need for the coming year.

Experience gifts, such as cinema tickets, nights away, dinners out etc. are all things I’ve given in previous years, but obviously, the pandemic makes this harder. Take-away vouchers are still very much an option, as are book tokens, and subscriptions to things like Audible, Netflix, and Spotify. But there are lots of other ideas too – ideas which might also help to make a positive impact on the world, rather than simply avoiding a negative impact.

  1. Why not create a YouTube playlist of videos you think your friend/family-member would like, then share the link? For example, I have one friend who is a huge fan of period costume and historic sewing, so I’m trying to curate a list of videos about this. Other ideas include tutorial videos – if someone you know wants to learn to knit, for example, you could seek out instructions that you think are clear and compile a list of those. You could make a mix of music you like, or even agree to learn a new skill with your recipient, then discuss how you’re getting on online. This all has the added bonus of being free!
  2. Going back to the skill-learning – you could sign your recipient up for an online course, or offer to teach them something you know via skype/Zoom etc.
  3. If you know something about music, you could write a song. Or if you’re a writer, then a poem or a short story? I’m currently in the throes of editing a book that I’ve written for my eldest’s birthday next year, something I plan to convert to PDF and load onto my e-reader to gift. Obviously, this takes time, but doesn’t cost anything and doesn’t create any waste.
  4. For children, you could offer to pay for memberships to clubs like Scouts and Guides, or sports classes. This helps both the child and the parent out and might mean that someone gets to try something they wouldn’t otherwise have had the means to do.
  5. Volunteer your time. Even if you can’t meet up and help out with something, perhaps you could offer to proofread any writing a student does for one year, or write someone three weeks worth of meal plans (because meal planning for yourself is so boring even if it does make a huge difference to cost/waste). There are loads of things you can turn your hand to remotely.
  6. Make a reading list for someone. If they’re interested in learning more about a certain subject and you have knowledge in that field, then a reading list is a wonderful way of sharing what you know.
  7. Collect a variety of different recipes and send them either as a Word document/PDF, or as a Pinterest board. It’s like a personally tailored cookbook that can be accessed anywhere.
  8. Vouchers for businesses local to you/the recipient, or small businesses which can be supported online. At the moment, many small retailers are experiencing cash flow issues, so things like buying a voucher for a favourite store can really help.
  9. Agree with friends and family to swap a book you’ve finished and enjoyed. This can be a one-way, direct swap, or it can involve more than two people. Yes, there’s a physical object involved, but it’s something you had already.
  10. Dedicate a tree to someone you love via The Woodland Trust or another organisation. I like to do this for first Christmases after the birth of a child, or after a wedding. It’s a really nice way of symbolising hope for the future.
  11. Fund a charitable organisation which aligns with the values of your intended recipient. For children, I like to buy a voucher for Lend With Care, as they can chose a business to invest in and watch grow. The other great thing about this, is that as the loan is repaid, it can be reinvested into other enterprises and really is the Gift That Keeps on Giving. Choose Love is another online store which allows you to send goods to people who need them, rather than those who don’t.

Aside from many of these ideas costing nothing, they can all be done fairly last minute, and are also ideal for family and friends living far away – no postage costs! As the UK exits to ‘transition period’ of Brexit on the 31st December, postage stands to grow increasingly complicated, so it’s good to keep alternatives to physical presents in mind.

What about you – would you be happy to receive any of the above? Or do you prefer a solid object? I would love to hear any ideas you have for gift alternatives! As ever, you can contact me here, or on Twitter.

One Reply to “Non-physical gifts”

  1. Ah!
    Farn, last year, my husband and I decided on no presents for us, and other grown ups in the family except for kids. This year, we stuck to our plan and instead of presents no one even needs, like you rightly state, we did a food basket which we are actually pleased with. But while doing our Christmas shopping at the grocery store, I was shocked at the amount of STUFF there was. The amount of plastic and low quality stuff no one really needs, but people buy them because they are available and cheap. It was actually really sad to see the amount of crap we are depleting from our environment that we don’t even need. So yes, thank you for this post. Hopefully more and more people relax the need to just buy stuff, — anything!!

    Liked by 1 person

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