Stuff the physical presents: What I’ll be giving to show I really care
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I hate "stuff" – anything that clutters my life and gets in the way of my furniture.
Come Christmas time, there's absolutely nothing physical you could give me that I actually want or need.
Not to sound like the woman who has it all (I'm not) but adding more "stuff" to my existing stockpile of stuff and trying to figure out where the hell I'm going to put it all is not my idea of holiday fun.
And every year it makes me sick to see the amount of useless crap thrown about the Christmas tree. Toys and items that offer a split second of surprise during the moment of unwrapping are actually space occupying, objects of pointlessness I don't actually want.
While I can provide hints, I can't control the gifts I receive from others. But I can control what I give to everyone else. And this year my shopping list is completely "stuff-less".
That doesn't mean I'm being cheap - far from it. Instead, I'm opting for experiences and digital gifts.
Here's what I'm getting my friends and family.
Restaurant gift card: This is so simple but so lovely for those on the receiving end. Pick a restaurant that's close to the recipient's place of work or home and purchase a card with enough of a spend on it for them to enjoy a two course meal for two and a bottle of wine. They'll be thinking of you in February when they finally get a chance to spend a night out with their partner – or they'll opt to take you with them. Bonus.
iTunes card: This is an access pass to movies, music, magazines and apps that doesn't require anything physical other than the device used to read, listen and watch it on. Now it may not be all that personal but for plenty of teenagers it's practical. And all they really want anyway.
Gold Class movie tickets: These tickets are too expensive to justify purchasing for yourself, but if somebody's willing to buy them for you then there's nothing like being able to put your feet up while having your popcorn delivered to you during a film. Great for that uncle you feel obliged to buy for.
Live music: There's nothing better. And there's always an option to suite, whether it's traditional (check out a season pass from Sydney Symphony or Opera Australia), the contemporary (Alabama Shakes touring in January and Sarah Blasko in February) or the more energetic (Big Day Out In January and Soundwave in February).
Digital subscription to Crikey/New Yorker/Economist: Find a great news publication and buy a subscription. The person on the receiving end will appreciate the thought – especially the fact you think of them as being more interested in reading great journalism than acquiring even more useless rubbish for the mantelpiece.
Year-long pass to the zoo/museum/amusement park: This is perfect for little kids who can't explore an entire zoo or museum all in one day, and who are constantly surprised by the new and different animals or things they encounter. Give it to them with a picture book and an explanation, and it will seem like an endless year of possibilities.
World's Biggest Relief Package: Some people would love nothing more than for you to make the world a better place on their behalf. In Somalia, women are 150 times more likely to die in childbirth than in Australia. This UN Refugees initiative allows you to fill an online shopping basket with virtual gifts that can make a real difference to women in need. Add a message, and the recipient will receive an email letting them know your gift has arrived. Just $26 will get you started and can provide 10 "Clean Delivery Kits" including an instruction sheet, cotton baby wrap, soap, plastic sheeting and a clean blade and string for cutting the umbilical cord. It gets better: $53 will provide a "Midwife Pack" including drugs, sterile dressing and other supplies; while $100 can provide a "new Mother Pack" for 20 women, including nutritional supplements, blankets, baby clothes and soap.
Or if none of these are suitable, simply take George Monbiot's advice. He wrote on the Guardian last week: "Bake them a cake, write them a poem, give them a kiss, tell them a joke, but for God's sake stop trashing the planet to tell someone you care. All it shows it that you don't."
What's your best idea for a "non-stuff" gift? Leave it below.
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