With the holidays just around the corner, the shopping malls are jammed and online shopping is just a click away. It’s easy to find ourselves with our list of people we need to get gifts for… and a desire to check the box. I know I’ve been guilty of this approach.
But pause with me for a moment. Want to make this a great holiday? Try giving the gift that’s not in a box—the best gift of all. I am not suggesting you have to throw away your list, but being purposeful about what we decide to give this year will make it even more special.
Purposeful giving goes beyond the wish list. It celebrates what is most important to others—and is based on the understanding that the most valuable gift you have to offer might just be a piece of yourself. No box could hold it even if you tried!
So put the wrapping paper away for a moment and check out these examples to help you “think outside the box”—literally!
1. The Gift of Traditions.
What do you remember most about the holidays growing up? What are your most memorable moments today when you think about the holidays? I bet a lot of you are thinking of traditions that you shared with your loved ones. My husband Fred and I love celebrating the holidays with rituals that we began when our three daughters were young. We read “Twas the Night Before Christmas” as a way of capturing the anticipation that we all have experienced around that holiday. We plan after-Christmas activities that allow us focused time together. Traditions often grow into lifelong memories—and if you don’t have any— now is the perfect time to begin one!
2. The Gift of Laughter.
Otherwise known in our house as the “busted” tradition. It’s when I get caught nibbling on the cookies left for Santa’s elves. Or when our girls laugh about the early years when Fred dressed up as Santa Claus—we still have the suit! We value the goofy moments in our family. The gift of laughter reminds us not to take ourselves too seriously, even as we try our best to support one another. Gifts that aren’t in a box are a living example of what is most important to us—and laughter is a reflection of that joy.
3. The Gift of Attention.
When you focus on someone, that takes time and energy that you will never get back. Being present and off the clock, without an agenda, is a powerful statement of care and interest. Listening and being completely absorbed in the present are so hard to do in the holiday rush. What if we exchanged stressing over the perfect gift, for time together? I can promise you that most people will welcome the gift of attention—especially in what too easily becomes the holiday blur. Most of the time it’s not the actual material gift we remember, but the gift of time and attention.
4. The Gift of Service.
Putting the needs of others first is a bedrock principle for some of the most successful business people. How can you translate that habit to the people closest to you? This is about showing, not just telling. How can you serve them with a gift that is not in the box? Service can extend beyond your immediate loved ones too. Taking time to serve others is a surefire way to re-gain perspective fast during a time of year where it’s easy to lose sight of what matters most.
5. More unboxable gift ideas.
See this link for some inspiration for ten things that can help you connect with others. None depend on your skill set. Perhaps your unboxable gift will be to begin a ritual that benefits someone in a profound way. Compassion, empathy and punctuality can be gifts that are not in a box!
Your Game Changer Takeaway
Reflect on the most memorable, significant gift in your life that was not in a box—traditions, experiences, gestures are a good place to start. What was its impact for you? How can you take action today to pay that forward to others? Remember, the most meaningful gifts rarely come in boxes. Get ready to continue this mindset all year long.
The Molly Fletcher Company inspires leaders, teams and organizations to up their game. A keynote speaker and author, Molly draws on her decades of experiences working as a sports agent. She is the founder of Game Changer Performance Group, which offers training and coaching programs to help leaders unleash their potential, including: Negotiation: Maximize Your Influence, which teaches business people a framework for successful negotiating; Energy: Optimize Your Focus, which teaches people how to manage their energy to achieve focus and freedom; and High Impact: Elevate Your Power Skills, which is in development now and will supercharge your organization’s performance. Sign up to receive our newsletter, subscribe to the Game Changers with Molly Fletcher podcast, and watch her TED Talk on The Secrets to a Champion Mindset, which has been viewed more than 1 million times.