The Spirit of Giving: My Favorite Thoughtful Gift Ideas!
Updated: December 17, 2010
Looking for a meaningful holiday gift that won’t break the bank? No need to rush to the mall or frantically sift through shopping websites. Today I’m going to let you in some of the most meaningful gifts I’ve given and received over the years. But, shh… don’t let these ideas get to Santa and his reindeer—they may put him out of business!
If you want to have a memorable holiday, one of the best things you can do is to give. Now, I don’t mean the kind of giving that involves spending loads of money on the latest must-have gadget. The giving I’m talking about centers on connection, love, gratitude, and experience. It’s about reaching out to others from the heart and nurturing your relationships—with loved ones, the Divine, and yourself.
Have you ever noticed how giving to others makes you feel? Whether you give your time, gratitude, love, or money, it takes you out of yourself. You expand beyond your limitations, out of your “Me Bubble” and wounded ego (what I call the Goblin) and into the All that Is. I know, I know—I talk about getting out of the “Me Bubble” a lot, but it can really change your life. Focusing on others combats depression, negativity, loneliness, anxiety, boredom, and a host of other emotions that keep us stuck and unhappy. When we give, we connect to the spark of the Divine that runs through each and every living thing. As we nurture and honor others, we do the same to ourselves. And, of course, we tap into our intuition and messages from Spirit.
Scientists have actually discovered that giving does wonders for our brains…. even more than receiving! In fact, giving is in our genes In recent brain scanning studies, scientists have scanned the brains of people who were given or won something and then repeated the same scans when the people gave to charity anonymously. The same regions of the brain that are associated with the reward and the good feeling you have when you get something yourself, like money, were the same areas that were activated when you give. And, not only were the same areas involved, but in fact they were more activated when you give than when you receive! Likewise, giving activates the areas of our brains which are not only the most recently evolved, they are still evolving. Some scientists believe that donating and giving more often in various ways is not only going to support our own brain’s evolution, but is also good for our future as a world community.
So, what to give? Here are my favorite meaningful holiday gifts.
Make a donation!: What causes are closest to your loved one’s heart? Why not make a donation to charity in their name? You also might donate your time to your loved one. Is there something they need help with? Or, perhaps plan a special picnic or hike that they’d love. In my last blog The Spirit of the Holidays: How to Beat the Loneliness Blues, I also mentioned my rewarding experience volunteering at a soup kitchen one Christmas. When we’re in service to others, we nourish our world. So, as a gift to yourself and your community, spend some time at a local hospital chatting with patients or volunteer at an animal shelter.
Make a God Box: God Boxes are one of the best tools for helping us stay in the present and cultivate more peace and connected with our higher selves and the Divine. And, they make great gifts! First, get a box. You might decorate a plan wooden box, or you can even go out and buy a nice box. Just make sure the box reminds you of the person you’re giving it to. Then, all you need is some nice paper for your loved one to write their worries, wishes, and feelings and give them to God. And, please note, when I call this a God Box, the word “God” isn’t meant to have a religious connotation. In this case, “God” represents whatever resonates most for your loved one—a higher power, the universe, the All that Is, Spirit, etc.
Create a CD of moving music: OK, I know “mixes” are so 90s. But, whenever I make a CD for someone with downloads of songs that I think will speak to them, they just love it. You might even do a mix of meditations. (I have some great meditations in my store. I highly recommend The Sound of the Sun.)
Oracle Cookies!: Another one of my favorite gifts to give is oracle cookies. Everyone likes some kind of cookie, so why not make them an extra special batch with added love, inspiration, and guidance! You can either do fortune cookies with handwritten oracle sayings inside, or you can make sugar cookies and use icing to write messages on the top of the cookie. I love to use my Wisdom of Avalon Oracle Cards and my Wisdom of the Hidden Realms Oracle Cards to write the fortunes and messages. I’ll just pick a card and write whatever comes to mind. It might be one of the words on the card or a sentence of guidance from the guidebook that comes with the card.
If you’d like all the great details about getting messages from fortune cookies, I wrote a whole chapter on the topic in my book Messages From Spirit. Here’s a fun fortune cookie recipe that I’ve personally tested.
- 1 egg white (to represent the foundations of birth)
- 1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract (to represent the sweetness of life)
- 1 pinch salt (to preserve and to represent the infinite soul)
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour (to represent the power of the earth and to give manifest form
- 1/4 cup white sugar (to represent the sweetness of life)
- 1 teaspoon of milk (to represent nourishment)
- 1/2 teaspoon of water (to represent the ebb and flow of life)
- 1 Tablespoon of butter (to represent abundance)
- Fire (stove – to represent the activity and creativity inherent in all things)
Remember to focus on the intention of love and gratitude as you make this recipe!
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Butter or put some oil on a cookie sheet. (Or, 2 sheets if you have it.) Write fortunes on strips of paper about 4 inches long and 1/2 inch wide.
2. Using a large white bowl to signify purity of Spirit, mix the egg white and vanilla until foamy but not stiff. Add milk, butter, and water and then set bowl aside. Then in another bowl, using a wooden spoon to connect the process to the natural world, mix the flour, salt, and sugar. Finally, blend the dry mix into the egg white mixture.
3. Place teaspoonfuls of the batter at least 4 inches apart on one of the prepared cookie sheets. Tilt the sheet to move the batter into round shapes about 3 inches in diameter. Be careful to make batter as round and even as possible. Do not make too many, because the cookie have to be really hot to form them and once they cool it is too late. Start with 2 to a sheet and see how many you can do.
4. Bake for 5 minutes or until cookie has started to turn a golden color around the outer edge of the circle. The center will remain pale. While one sheet is baking, prepare the other.
5. Remove from oven and quickly move cookie with a wide spatula and place upside down on a wooden board. Quickly place the fortune on the cookie, close to the middle and fold the cookie in half. Place the folded edge across the rim of a measuring cup and pull the pointed edges down, one on the inside of the cup and one on the outside. Place folded cookies into the cups of a muffin tin or egg carton to hold their shape until firm.
Remember, even if your cookies don’t look like they do at a Chinese restaurant, they will be perfect just as they are. And so yummy!! Your loved one will love them!
In service and love,
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