The gift of your presence is one of the most valuable presents you can give your loved ones. But this time of year, we’re often so busy cooking, cleaning and shopping that we don’t even think about this simple but profound gift idea.
This holiday season, rather than frantically running around for weeks, consider giving others the gift of presence. Here are a few ideas to help you do just that.
Give the Gift of Your Presence
Being present with others doesn’t just mean spending time with them. It means bringing your full self to the interaction. You’re not checking your phone or thinking about other stuff you should be doing. Instead, you’re giving your total focus to the people you are with.
The gift of your presence benefits your recipient and you. Being more present can strengthen your relationships. It also helps you feel happier, less stressed and more productive. And an additional benefit is that it creates less “stuff” out in the world, that will (surprisingly quickly) end up in a landfill.
To be more present with the people you care about, try these tips:
I’m betting that you love some of the tasks that go along with the holiday season, but that others just feel like a headache. Maybe, for example, you can’t wait to deck the halls. Cooking, though, just isn’t your thing.
Instead of taking care of everything yourself, this year consider hiring some help with tasks you don’t like. TaskRabbit is a great place to start. (That link will get you $10 off your first task and $10 off my next one.) On TaskRabbit, you can find helpers for everything from cleaning up ahead of a big party to dropping off gifts around town to putting lights up at your house. Personally, I love to use a tasker to be my “host” when I have people at my house—someone to get the door, take coats, refresh drinks, clean up used dishes and glasses, refill the chip bowls, etc., so that I can enjoy my guests. You could also give someone else a gift card to TaskRabbit, to help them get some of their time back.)
TaskRabbit is available in 70 cities in the U.S., but if yours isn’t one of them, check if your neighborhood is on Nextdoor. There you can probably connect with a teen or other entrepreneurial folks who need some extra cash and would be happy to, say, wrap presents for you.
When you outsource some holiday tasks, it’s easier for you to give others the gift of presence. You will have more time for the activities that fulfill you and the people you care about, and you’ll be less distracted by your endless holiday to-do list.
Create DIY Gifts Together
Round up family or friends to make handmade gifts, such as baked goods, flavored syrups, or if food allergies are a concern, try foaming hand soap. (Here’s a soap recipe I like, and the fractionated coconut oil is optional.) We pour the soap in bottles like these and tie the recipe on the bottle with a ribbon so that our recipients can refill the bottle when the soap runs out. You can even include the ingredients in the gift.
Getting together to make gifts offers an opportunity to give the gift of your presence, and it also means you have a gift on hand to take to holiday gatherings. That saves us time in the busy holiday season and saves us the stress of shopping for these gifts. (It’s also good for the planet!)
Give Experiences, Not Things
There are so many benefits to giving people experiences instead of just more stuff, especially if you can share these experiences with them. In the long run, experiences make us happier than things do. Experiential gifts are also often better for the environment.
You can give experiences to people of all ages. For adults and teens, consider creative classes (like cooking or painting), outdoor activities (like a day of ziplining or a guided hike) or cultural experiences (like museum membership or concert tickets). Or maybe a spa day is more their speed!
For teens and kids, season passes their favorite local attraction or tickets to a special event create memorable experiences. Remember, though, that kids will also love any special outing with you — and it might even turn into a holiday tradition.
Help Your Loved Ones Learn to Be Present
Besides giving others the gift of your own presence, you can also help them cultivate presence in their daily lives. If you have recipients on your list who enjoy gifts that encourage learning and personal growth and development, here are my recommendations.
Doodling Books for Adults
Research shows that repetition in coloring decreases anxiety and depressive symptoms in adults. It relaxes many people and frees up the part of the brain that is focused on self-awareness. When we get lost in the present moment, we experience flow. So why not give the adults in your life the gift of being present? This is one of my favorite coloring books for grown-ups.
Is there someone on your list who is interested in meditation but isn’t sure how to get started? Give them a subscription to the FitMind app, a science-based, mental fitness program.
The folks at FitMind invited me to check it out, and I am really enjoying it. In addition to the benefits of a daily, short meditation practice that FitMind leads me through, the app also provides a great education on how to meditate.
I’m early in the program, but I’m learning a lot and enjoying increased mindfulness. I ‘m more aware of how I’m feeling in a given moment, which gives me the ability to adjust if my mental state isn’t serving me (an important aspect of attention management).
If you’d like to try it, you can use this link. The benefit to you is a free month of the paid version. I receive a small benefit if you use this link, but I only recommend apps and tools I personally use and find beneficial. After you download the app using that link, it will prompt you to pay, at which point you can just “X” out of that window, and the app will already be unlocked for a month.
Attention Management: How to Gain Success and Increase Productivity Every Day
My latest book is a quick read with plenty of actionable advice. It’s also richly made with a hard cover and thick, colorful pages, so it makes a great gift, especially in a professional setting.
It’s a Top Pick in the business section at Barnes & Noble. Author and speaker Dorie Clark calls it “a lifesaver to all of the busy people who are feeling increasingly impatient and frazzled.” Attention Management was also featured in the recent article “24 Books for Anyone Who Wants to Get Ahead in Life” on inc.com.
I hope the ideas here will help you give the gift of presence to the most important people in your life this holiday season!