The Art of Giving and Receiving

Most of us get overwhelmed by gift giving this season.

We thoughtlessly bumble about collecting items that may somehow represent our social relationships and obligations; or worse we spend hours shopping for just the right thing for those we love to no avail.

It can be quite the rollercoaster! …not to mention the sometimes awkward and often painful feelings that can come up as we give our gifts and watch others open them.


Oh, then there is all the emotional baggage we can feel in that moment when someone hands US a gift.


Do we have to?

Well, yes, we probably do.

So how can we survive…and maybe even thrive through the process?

Here are a few little rituals you can fold into your gifting routines. It is late for Chanukah this year (sorry!), but hopefully these can help those of us with Christmas shopping still to do.

Oh, and maybe circle back here when it is birthday time?


  • Breathe- before you step into the store or open up the browser; take a second. Connect with your breath in whatever way you do so and let your breath support your process.
    Notice how it changes and flows as you peruse and collect.
    Let your breath guide you.

  • Set a budget- Making the simple decision of how much you want to spend before you begin can shift the experience. Set a budget not just over all, but per person. (maybe that feels icky to you… ask yourself why?)
    Money is a symbol and if you can invite yourself to consciously unpack it a bit, it will loom less threatening over the shopping experience.
    Remember, how much money you spend is not a sign of how much love you feel…unless you want it to be.

  • Dedicate time- Go ahead and care for yourself by scheduling shopping/creating, and wrapping sessions.
    Your time is valuable and it is part of the gift.
    If you can set aside time to focus your full attention on the process, it may lead to a more enjoyable and mindful gifting practice.
    Maybe even light a candle as you settle in to wrap, little rituals like that matter.

  • Detox- What do you do to release tension? Yoga? baths? walks? work outs? cooking? crafting?
    Try setting aside a space to do so more often than usual during gifting season.

  • Use Santa Claus-  Humans creatd these archetypes for a reason. The idea or spirit of Santa/St. Nick can help us get through this.
    Call on him to inspire you. Maybe when you see Santa out and about he is pointing the way to mindfulness as you give. Sit down and meditate with him; ask Santa what it means to give.
    When you feel worried about how your gifts will be received channel some Santa spirit and give anonymously or with no strings attached.
    Not a fan? What other holiday archetype can you draw in? (Frosty, elves, Rudolph, temple keepers lighting candles, baby Jesus or Mother Mary, sheep, angels, etc.)

  • How to let yourself off the hook- Sitting around and worrying about what to get someone is torturous. So much so that many of us simply ask for lists from loved ones so that we don’t have to guess what they might like, or maybe we just give money or gift cards in hopes that the gift receiver will unburden us of our work by just buying themselves something. That is fine, but it isn’t the right choice in all relationships.
    Love is hard, brave, work and part of that is tolerance of getting it wrong sometimes. 
    No need to fret if you can’t find the right gift to express your love You don’t have to make the other person do your work for you!
    Do this instead; take out a piece of paper. find something to write or draw with. imagine the receiver, imagine them feeling the way you would like them to feel when they open your gift. Draw a large heart on the paper. At the bottom of the page write “I.O.U.”. Put the heart in an envelope write their name on it. If the big day rolls around and you still haven’t found an appropriate gift, give them the envelope. Tell them you love them, that their gift will come later. Trust that you will find it some day. Wait. See their gift randomly. buy it or make it. give it to them immediately. Hugs. 
    See, it is okay to think outside the box.


  • Breathe- Use your breath to guide you through the receiving process.
    Let it hold you as you open your heart and let the love flow through you like air.

  • Imagine a Wall- If you feel overwhelmed by the energy of others coming your way via gifts, this one is for you.
    Before you go into an experience where you know you will be given gifts, build some rudimentary imaginary boundaries. Make one very permeable, like a line drawn on the ground. Make one semi permeable, like a picket fence. Then build a very strong fortified one, like out of brick. Once they are imagined, add a gate or doorway in each one. Again the gate should reflect the level of security needed per wall.
    Then as you receive each gift, imagine it must pass through one of these walls to reach you.
    You decide what gets past the boundary and into your world.

  • USE SANTA, Y’ALL!- When was the last time you visited Santa? You know he (the US postal service) receives letters from grown ups sent to the North Pole too? Find a fun way to tell Santa what you really want for Christmas.
    If you get your hopes and desires out of the way, perhaps your heart can be more open to receive.
    Maybe you will find that what you really want for Christmas isn’t things, but experiences or feelings…that is cool to know.

  • Thank you notes- At the least, say thanks (I am a mom so I know that it doesn’t always come naturally, generate that thank you!). Consider writing individual notes to those who gave to you, or even thank you emails and texts.

    This old tradition really can close the whole process when done thoughtfully.
    No need to fret about what to say, we live in an age of emojis!

  • Practice- Breathe. Open your palms. Imagine a bright light flowing from your heart center down your arm and into your hand. hold it there for a second. Let it warm your skin. Then thoughtfully transfer it to your other palm. relieve it. hold it there for a second. Let it warm your skin. Allow it to flow up your arm and in to your heart center. Breathe.
    (repeat as needed)
    If it is helpful you can also do this exercise with an actual item in your hand; like a marble, a candle, or a flower bud.

Please use and edit these ideas in what ever way works for you!


Regardless, just setting the goal to keep your heart open and your thoughts grounded as you give and receive will transform your experience.

Thanks for making time to be thoughtful.

May the warmth of generosity and the awareness of abundance flow through you this holiday season and every day.