by Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD
Want to make this Christmas about something deeper than “more stuff?” Tired of fruit cake and monogrammed slippers? Want to purposefully embrace the holiday spirit of love, joy, kindness, and friendship? Here are 9 ideas for simple presents that are all about presence:
Take an elderly relative out for breakfast or lunch to a restaurant of their choice or invite them over to your home for a meal.
Spend 10 minutes crafting a card for your partner detailing some of the significant reasons why you love having them in your life.
Help your parents with one onerous task of their choosing, like cleaning out the garage, taking stuff to goodwill, setting up some sort of technology, spreading woodchips in the backyard, moving something heavy, or throwing out expired canned goods. Give them a coupon for 3 hours of manual labor.
Plan a holiday event with a favorite friend or a few. Visit the shop windows, browse the Chriskindl Market, go to a music fest or the Nutcracker ballet, go to a football game, or just get together.
Spend at least 15 straight minutes playing with one child (one-on-one time) by shooting hoops, helping them put together a ridiculously large Lego set, playing a board game, putting on various sets of doll clothes, or something similar.
Go for a walk in nature – even if it’s just around the block – by yourself. In the fresh, crisp air, noticing the weather, the ground beneath your feet, and the color of the sky.
Let your child help you with a task where the two of you can accomplish something together, such as replacing batteries in toys, changing light bulbs, or baking muffins. Keep the task lighthearted and try to focus more on enjoying it than on finishing it.
Call, visit, or write a letter to a friend who has been struggling with something – whether a health challenge, a job layoff, grief or loss, or something else.
Go on a date with your partner. Put some effort into it like dressing up, choosing a thoughtful location or activity, surprising them, or being purposefully positive or playful.
Erin Leyba, LCSW, PhD is a psychotherapist for individuals and couples in Chicago’s western suburbs. She specializes in counseling for parents of babies and young children. www.erinleyba.com or firstname.lastname@example.org