Giving thanks. It is something we do when someone gives us a gift or does something special for us. In the several countries there are special days called Thanksgiving. People gather together with family and friends, eat a big feast, and give thanks for all their blessings. In the United States, this holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November; it is followed by Black Friday which is traditionally the biggest shopping day of the year. People start shopping in the wee hours of the morning to get deals on gifts to give people for Christmas or other December holidays. Recently Black Friday has been joined by Cyber Monday which is a big shopping day because people are back at work and taking advantage of computer access to shop. Stores which may have been in the red financially, often see a profit after these shopping frenzies.

Lately I’ve been thinking how ironic it is that the day after giving thanks for all of our blessings; many people go on a shopping binge and buy lots of stuff. We don’t know whether the intended recipients want or need the stuff. But we buy it anyway because we want to (or feel that we have an obligation to) give a tangible gift. This year as we enter the holiday season I would like to challenge you to rethink your concept of giving.

Giving Suggestion No. 1 – Time. Our lives are so busy these days; there are often friends and family members that we don’t see for months on end. Use your computer to make a gift certificate related to time that you commit to spend with someone. Here are some ideas:

  • Eat a meal together at the place of the recipients’ choice.
  • Go out on a date. This doesn’t just have to be husband/wife or boyfriend/girlfriend. Moms & dads can take each child out for a special activity.
  • For women, get a manicure or pedicure together.
  • Check out a park or museum.
  • Look for festivals or other community events.
  • Exercise together.
  • Volunteer at a local event or charity.
  • Your idea here.

My only request is that it not be a movie, concert, or other “closed” event during which you can’t converse.

Giving Suggestion No. 2 – Consumables. If giving the gift of time doesn’t appeal to you, how about giving december global holidays something that is consumable? You may automatically think of food. But there is a whole world of consumables outside of food. Below is a list of both food and non-food ideas that may spark your creative juices:

  • Gift certificate for spa treatment.
  • Gas or car wash gift card.
  • Tickets to a movie theatre or event.
  • Gift certificate for babysitting.
  • Specialized food: crab cakes from the shore or maple candy from New England.
  • Netflix gift card with microwave popcorn.
  • Your idea here.

Giving Suggestion No. 3 – Betterment. There are a number of local and global organizations that accept donations in another person’s name. In same instances it is a monetary donation. In other cases, you may be adopting something or helping a specific person. Possibilities include:

  • Adopt an endangered animal through WWF.
  • Adopt part of the rainforest through the Rainforest Alliance.
  • Give money to a local charity.
  • Give a flock of chickens, a pig or a llama to a family in the developing world through Heifer International.
  • Your idea here.

You have heard (and maybe have said); it’s the thought that counts. Well, it might be time to put your money where your mouth is. Let’s be more thoughtful this giving season. Most people have all of the stuff they need and sometimes much more than enough! No more store gift cards and no more stuff that takes up space and accumulates dust. While it may take a little more thought to implement these suggestions, I believe that you, the recipient, and possibly the world will benefit greatly in the end.