Choosing thoughtful gifts this Christmas for all those people we love; Mum, Dad, the kids and friends can be a joyful experience. Here are five ideas to help with Christmas gifting that are more mindfulness than madness!


The news is full of climate change crisis messages so now, more than perhaps at any other Christmas time so far in the history of human existence, sustainable gift choices are crucial. Reversing consumerism requires a radical change in the buyer’s state of mind. Three great questions to ask yourself before hitting the buy button are:

  • -Where did this gift come from?
  • -Where will it go?
  • -What difference will the gift make to the person receiving it?

Choose useful things that will last and make the biggest difference. For example, a beautiful journal made from sustainable paper can change someone’s life and won’t cost the earth.

Keeping the shopping list shorter also means more time for relaxing and reconnecting with those we love. Perhaps you could agree with people up front that presents will be fewer but more meaningful this year to save any red faces on Christmas day?


Imagine the person you are buying for out Christmas shopping. Get all your senses into the activity. What are they seeing? How are they feeling? What do they smell? What draws their eye and makes them smile? As they browse for others what little things might they buy for themselves?

People buy the sorts of things they like to receive. If they buy something thoughtful for others, they’ll like to receive well considered gifts that stimulate the mind. If they buy quirky things look for something different.


One of the greatest ways to show our love is to listen deeply. Set aside a little time to think and try to remember the conversations you have had throughout the year with the person you are buying for. What emotional roller-coaster have they been riding? What did they get excited or angry about? What new thing surprised them? Did they read a book or watch a film that they adored?

When you choose a gift tell them on your gift card how your choice connects with what you heard. For example, many people send our ten deep breaths bracelet with a carefully worded message to say something like “I know there are challenges ahead but you have the strength to get through, just remember to breathe.”


There is a tendency in British society to shy away from sharing with people the strengths we see within them. As the social inhibitions loosen, over a glass (or two) of something special with Christmas dinner, take advantage of the great opportunity to share those strengths you see. Recognising strengths in others also builds them in ourselves. Christmas is a great time to celebrate the strengths we see in those we love through the gifts we choose. A wonderful way to say I love your kindness is to buy a box of cards. My mum loves this because it means I have noticed how much she does to support others and how hugely important a value that is for her. With her new box of beautiful cards in hand, she can keep on sending out her love and support throughout the year ahead.

If you want to know more about strengths visit www.viacharacter.org where there’s even a scientifically sound quiz to do to discover your own strengths.


The essence of the Japanese aesthetic of wabi sabi celebrates the perfectly imperfect nature of the living world. When a bowl breaks it is mended with gold leaf so that the story of the bowl, it’s breaking and being remade, is both visible and beautiful. Choose gifts that tell a human story and celebrate the perfect imperfection.

Christmas, like this, perfectly imperfect and wonderfully human, is one that we can all relax into and enjoy. Let the kids wrap the presents (not theirs of course) and let it be untidy, poorly colour co-ordinated and wrapped in excesses of tape! They’ll love it and gifts will be opened with a smile. Let everyone join in and cook a dish for Christmas dinner. Perhaps the ceramics won’t coordinate, and the food will be of varying standards, but it means a lot to contribute a dish to a shared feast.

If you’re the Christmas co-ordinator in your household see how much control you can relinquish. Keep smiling if they do it differently to you. The greatest joy we can find at Christmas really is from giving not receiving and this is a sort of giving too!


Written by Ruth Williams, Psychologist and Director Of Store For The Mind