giving with meaning

choosing - and creating - special gifts idea manual



What is the truly special gift? It's a gift that carries with it multifold meanings... that has been selected (perhaps created) with the receiver, and the receiver's good, in mind. 

The giver of the special gift is also blessed with a part of it:  the satisfying of his desire to share with someone, the prospect of the gift's conveying something that speaks of her relationship with the recipient as well as giving the other delight.

The urge to share is a universal human inclination. (You could say that generosity is the flip side of gratitude - which is also an instinctive pull.) We all have a need to share in order to feel complete - and when we open ourselves to others' needs, what we give is sincerely prized. When we give - whether it be a present given to another, or a sharing of ourselves through a service or when participating in a communal gathering - we celebrate the linking of one to another... and the giving is the getting.

Most of us particularly focus on sharing at the time of the end-of-the-year holidays. I call this "the sharing season"... though it's also certainly a time of ambivalence for some. I've pondered on the art and practice of giving, as well as on how to bypass the commercialization, even the disappointments, of this so-magnetic season... And this website is a result. Perhaps you'll find some thoughts here that will help you in answering questions like:

  • Are there other ways to celebrate the holidays, without commercialization and stress?
  • How might one decide on what sort of giving and/or celebrating would suit particular people, in particular situations, any time of the year? (...including oneself!)
  • And what sorts of gifts might be available - to buy, or to make (especially, frugally) - to match the categories that would fit the needs/desires/pleasures of those on your mind? (I've included a large section of about 250 recipes and instructions for easy-to-make gifts and decorations among those mentioned in the pages to follow.)

In back of the celebrations and the presents, we might say, are the "extras" of the settings and the gifts. Pretty wrapping paper and bows aren't needed to express love (in a way, the intent of the giver and the message inherent in the gift is an invisible but palpable wrapper!)... but the extra layers of a gift can add delightfully to the whole (especially when they're not quite the usual style). Likewise, home and party decorations aren't necessary for fulfillment - but they can enhance our enjoyment of the holidays and of each other and, like the wrapping of a gift, work synergistically into the memory of gratification that we might be reaching for. 

  • ...So we'll look at the extras of giving and celebrating as well.

See the table of contents below...  Start at the beginning, if you have the time to ruminate a bit with me. If you're headed in a specific direction (gift-wrapping ideas, say), you'll be able to cut to the chase. If you're just looking for gift ideas, you can skip to Categories of Gifts, for Idea-Generation - but I'd like to point out that there are lots of other gift ideas in the section called Principles for Gift-Giving as well. (Plus there are lists of the recipes and instructions one could peruse - see Section III.)

Have fun in your "adventure of the special gift"!...




§ Disentangling Meanings

§ Elemental Questions

Section I: The Preliminaries

§ Why Participate in the Flurry?

§ Defusing the Holidays

§ What to Do about the "Have-To"s

§ Greetings in the Mail

  Styles of Holiday Greetings

  Ideas for Handmade Greetings

§ Holiday Celebrations

  Principles for Holiday Get-Togethers

+ Being Pleasurably Memorable... for the Whole Group

+ Enkindling a Sense of Unity (and "Goodwill toward Men")

+ Rekindling Nostalgic Reminiscences 

+ Exploring Ethnic Or Regional Holiday Traditions

+ Creating New Traditions

+ Celebrating Rebirth and Rejuvenation

+ Doing What Everyone Is Known to Enjoy

+ Feting Others in Need

+ Doing Something Useful

+ Providing the Chance for People to Meet Or Reunite

+ Sharing the Work So As to Allow Everyone to Enjoy the Season More

  Table Decor

§ Holiday Decorating

  Principles for Decorating

  Trees and Other Focal Points



  Tree Skirts

  Christmas Stockings

  Wreaths and Swags

  Windows and Sills/Mantels

  Outdoor Embellishments

§ A Little About Christmas Tree Care and Decoration Storage

  Making the Tree Stand Up Straight

  Extending the Life of a Cut Tree

  When It Comes to Tree Clean-up Time

  Storing the Ornaments and Other Decorations

Section II: Gifts

§ What Do We Want Them to Mean?

§ The Art of Achieving Our Gift-Giving Goals

§ Principles for Gift-Giving

  In the Context of the Receiverís Life

  When In Doubt, Ask

  Take Your Time... (Give Yourself Time)

  What Will Keep On Giving

  What Someone Really Wants

  What Someone Really Needs (Including a Replacement - Whether Needed Now, Or Later - for What They Have and Value)

  Something That Will Come in Handy (Save Time, Save Money, Save Space, Save Effort, Etc.)

  Something That Will Add to a Collection Or Set the Receiver Already Has

  Something That Helps the Receiver to Give to Someone Else

  Something Humorous (Especially Lastingly, Repeatedly)

  Something That Will Remind the Receiver of the Giver

  Something That Represents a Place Important to the Receiver (Better Yet, a Place Important to Both the Receiver and the Giver)

  What Doesnít Require Unnecessary Consumption of Resources

  Something Consumable, If the Receiver "Has Everything"

  Something That Will Broaden the Receiverís Horizons, Stimulate Ideas, Enable New Experiences

  Something That Will Enrich the Spirit of the Receiver with Its Singular Beauty

  Ideas! - e.g., New Uses for Old Things, Information the Receiver Needs, Etc.

  A Gift Certificate for Something Youíll Do for the Receiver

  A Gift Certificate for Something Someone Else Will Do for the Receiver

  Enabling the Receiver to Do Something That S/he Has Long Wanted to Do But Was Prevented (from Lack of Time, Money, Companionship, Oomph, Etc.)

  A Gift for a Pet in the Receiverís Household or for Wildlife in the Receiverís Yard

  What Will Make the Receiverís Christmas (Hanukkah, Etc.) Meaningful

  Many Little Things Might a Great Thing Make

  An Exchange of Household Gifts Rather Than Individual Ones

§ Handling Gift Exchanging for Large Groups

§ Categories of Gifts, for Idea-Generation


  Personal Stuff


  Just for Fun



  For the Yard

  For Outdoor Activities

  Found Objects of Great Beauty 


  Gifts for Yourself 

§ Packaging - The Outer Part of the Gift

  Principles for Packaging

  The Gift Container

+ Wrappers

+ Receptacles


+ Ribbons

+ Doodads and Other Adornments

+ Personal Tags

  Styles of Wrapping/Decorating

+ Disguises

+ More Possibilities

  Wrapping the Wrapper for Mailing

§ The Art of Gift-Wrap-Opening and Decoration Recycling

Section III: Recipes and Instructions

§ Recipes/Ideas

§ Instructions


I hope that you find some ideas here that slip right in where you need them. I wish you much pleasure and success in your giving experiences - and many special gifts! (If you give from the heart, you really can't go wrong.)


Sherry Gordon