Give Less, Give More

by Julie Fathy   |   November 16, 2016

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My mantra for holiday gift giving is “give less, give more.” Seemingly a contradiction, there is none in my sentiment. Quite obviously, I give fewer gifts, but my intent is to give gifts with more thought that honor the recipient, the people, and the planet. I ask three questions when choosing my gifts.

1.  Will the gift be meaningful in a lasting way to the recipient?

2.  Were the people involved in producing the gift given fair pay and safe working conditions?

3.  Is the gift sourced, produced, packaged, and distributed in a way that shows environmental responsibility and stewardship?

While it’s not always possible to ensure that all three points are met, I do my best to give with thought. For example, last year I gave one gift each to my three children: two teenagers and a toddler.

My older son, who is an outdoorsman, received a custom-made knife from a local craftsman. I went to the man’s workshop to pick out the blade and wood for the handle and paid him directly. It’s an heirloom knife that I hope will get frequent use throughout his life.

My daughter, who was soon to graduate from high school, received an exceptionally well-made travel bag from an American company that guarantees its products for life. This luggage might just accompany her on a lifetime of adventures.

My youngest son received a wooden rocker/balance board that has many open-ended and creative uses in play. The board was made by a female designer and woodworker who uses local lumber from ash trees affected by the invasive Emerald Ash Borer. This gorgeous toy will continue to nurture my son’s imagination and play as he grows.

I share these gifts only as examples of how I approach gift giving—less, but more. Not all years can I give so generously, but I always try to embrace a philosophy that honors the recipient, people, and the planet.

This season, I hope you give less, but give gifts that are...

  • Made from natural/sustainable materials
  • Experiential
  • Locally made
  • Fair trade
  • Handmade/homemade
  • Secondhand

More doesn’t have to be about quantity—it can be about integrity. Give more.

Julie Fathy lives with her family in Denver, Colorado, and is the author of the blog