11 free ways to give more this holiday season.
The season of giving is upon us. As a minimalist, I'm not so concerned with shopping for or receiving gifts as I am with enjoying the opportunity to spend time with people I care about, reflect on the past year, and prepare for the new year. Instead of racking your brain to figure out what you will buy everyone to show your appreciation, why not consider these alternative ways to bless those around you.
Listen (before speaking).
Give the people you care about the opportunity to share their wins, challenges, and struggles. You don’t know what they’ve been holding on to inside. Give them a safe and open space to let it all out.
Pick up the phone and let someone know you miss them. Let them hear your voice and listen to theirs. Sometimes we don’t know how much we’ve missed a person until we hear them speaking on the other end.
Send a card or letter.
If you don’t like talking on the phone (me!), take the time to write your thoughts out in a letter or card. People don’t send snail mail anymore. We send emails, text, or talk on social media, but I always love getting something in the mail from a friend. I don’t know about you, but when I check the mail and see something that is not a bill or junk mail, I get excited. Brighten someone’s day with a handwritten letter or card.
Spend time and not just money.
Our time is the most valuable thing we have to give because we cannot get it back after it’s gone. Instead of buying a gift, show someone you care by making time to visit. And if you want to buy a gift also, bring something you can share like a bottle of wine or a meal.
More support, less advice.
Simply be there for the person. They may not need or want your advice. They may just want to know that someone supports them and is in their corner.
Listen (more than you speak).
You’ve probably heard this before. We have two ears and one mouth for a reason. Listen twice as much as you speak. The more you listen, the more informed and understanding you can be when it’s the right time to speak. It’s also the reason why listen appears three times on this list.
Treat each relationship as unique.
In our relationships, we all have different needs and wants. Tailor each encounter to that specific person and the nature of your personal relationship. You may have one friend who is a homebody, another that likes to go out, or maybe a friend that is into DIYs and crafts. Focus on having a unique experience with each person.
Mind your business.
We can reduce and eliminate the drama that surfaces in some relationships by simply keeping our thoughts to ourselves in most cases. Everyone has an opinion, but it doesn’t mean you need to share it. We want to be there for the people in our lives, but don’t find yourself in something that has nothing to do with you.
We’re busy. We don’t have time. We don’t feel like it. There are a million reasons why we could say no, but try to say yes to more things that are good for your relationships with others. Put on your ugly sweater and go to that party.
Know love languages.
This goes along with treating each relationship as unique. Know how the people that matter, receive love. Do you they love affirmations, gifts, quality time, acts of service, or physical touch. Maybe someone needs a hug or could appreciate you running an errand for them. There are many ways to show love and it’s nice to be aware of what others need to feel loved.
Listen (to what’s not being said).
We don’t always say everything that’s on our minds. It can be a good thing or we could be too proud, overwhelmed, or afraid to say what we really need. Be aware of other cues such as how things are said, body language, and other ways people communicate without words. We are not mind readers, but all humans have a natural ability to sense when there’s more to a story. After listening, you may need to ask some pointed questions to get to the heart of the matter.