I LOVE holiday shopping for people, and I get so excited thinking about somebody smiling when they open up a gift from me. Holiday shopping can shift from awesome to stressful though when you seem to have run out of good gift ideas for what to get a special person in your life.
I was definitely feeling this way once the holidays rolled around during my senior year of college. My boyfriend and I started dating my freshman year, so we had already done our fair share of gift exchanges. On top of my total lack of gift inspiration, we were both wrapping up a really intensive class that was zapping up a lot of our free time and energy. We ultimately decided we would not exchange gifts.
It did bum me out a little bit that we were going to be skipping the fun holiday shopping. That’s when I had an idea. One Saturday, the two of us drove out to the mall and picked a child off one of the “giving trees” by the customer service desk. The two of us decided to pool our gift money and we spent the whole afternoon shopping for a little kid we had never met.
And you know what? It was probably our most memorable holiday together. Each time we found something on the list we’d get so excited, and it was fun for us to have friendly debate over what color hat or which game we were going to buy. Instead of each of us sneaking off the mall separately to do holiday shopping and stress about what to buy the other, we got to spend the entire day hanging out. With all the craziness of school, we hadn’t gotten to do that a lot, so the extra time was almost a gift in itself.
When we dropped off our big bag of items before we left the mall, I felt so happy for a whole bunch of reasons. First off, helping others just makes you feel good, and I liked thinking about how excited that kid was going to be with his gift – way more excited than my boyfriend probably would have been if I just got him another CD for the sake of having a holiday gift.
Thinking about that kid also helped me put some things in perspective, and a lot of the stress I had about my school projects had melted away. Finally, deciding to share this whole experience with my boyfriend wasn’t just fun because I could have a shopping buddy, but his enthusiasm about making this gift donation reminded me how he is a genuinely compassionate and thoughtful person.
Basically, this whole “donate date” was awesome for me, and I think it could be amazing for you too! Just getting to know each other and don’t feel like you’re really at a gift-giving stage? Suggesting this as a date idea gives you the chance to hang out no stress and learn more about each other, all for a good cause. If you’ve been together a while and you need a break from presents, it’s a great way to still get the fun of holiday shopping and enjoy the spirit of the season.
What’s great is that during the holidays there are often local opportunities available if you are wondering how to donate. Need one idea? The United States Postal Service sponsors Operation Santa which connects you with a letter that a child wrote to Santa, and you have the chance to write back and/or get some things off their list. Local malls, stores or places of worship are usually good places to find similar programs that accept donations of gifts for children or families.
I think teaming up to donate makes it more fun, so if you’re single don’t let that stop you! You can definitely propose this alternative gift-giving idea to a sibling or a friend as well. Sometimes when you’re in a couple, it can be easy to get caught up in each other while also feeling like you’re sort of just going through the motions. For me, taking a holiday for the two of us to work as a team and give back to someone else was a great way to still have holiday fun and spend quality time together. Everybody wins!
Does this sound like a fun holiday date for you? Have you ever decided to skip holiday gift giving with your significant other? Let us know in the comments!