Are you really going to wrap another cliché this year?

SİMAY KESKİNTEPE
ISTANBUL
Published 25.12.2018 23:20
Updated 26.12.2018 08:00
Gift giving is the best part of the holidays whether it is Christmas or New Year's.
Gift giving is the best part of the holidays whether it is Christmas or New Year's.

Giving and receiving gifts are two of the best feelings in the world. This year, celebrate the coming of 2019 by sharing meaningful, yet out-of-the-box surprises with your loved ones

We have all gazed at the mysterious gifts stuffed around the house for days with fascination, anxiously waiting until New Year's Eve. On the night before the new year, there is one thing on our minds besides the feast - opening gifts. The meaning of the new year is actually more than the beautifully packed gifts under the tree. The holidays of Christmas and New Year's are about giving, generosity, good will and charity as means of sentimental values to families and friends. It's a shame we often forget the meaning behind the tradition of gift giving. The world suffers from "absence in abundance," so why not share happiness, courage and tenderness this year from now on? I have decided to be a self-made Santa Claus this year, or at least be as fair, as inspiring and thoughtful as I can be. I decided to consider less "consumer-based and commercialized" options to truly feel the joy of giving and to help those less fortunate than myself; therefore, here is a list in a nutshell for all of you other self-made Santas who would like to give presents from the heart to loved ones this year.

I promised myself that I am not going to pay for ephemeral imitations just for their shock value this year. I wanted to find New Year's surprises that my loved ones could use to achieve, learn or feel a glow of satisfaction from. My effort to find perfect gifts always pays off when I see my loved ones' surprise at the end of the year. I have experienced a metamorphosis that has changed my impulsive spending habits and to be able to touch someone's life with the perfect gift and experiencing the joy of watching them enjoying my thoughtful gesture is worth the effort.

Make art not war

Art is food for the soul. I'm sure one of your loved ones would love to learn to draw or to visit a new exhibition in 2019. Enrolling them in an art class at a nearby art school may be the perfect fit for them along with the supplies they may need to get started, like a variety of paints and a canvas waiting to be brought to life.

If a class is too time consuming, simply take a daily art tour with your friends. Visit the latest exhibition in your city under your guidance, buy the tickets and share it with them. Before going to the exhibition, do research and enjoy the art with your loved ones by guiding them through the exhibition. There is no one better to give them a personal tour since you know their tastes more intimately than anyone else.

Pluck up courage

In 2019, help a friend overcome a fear. Public speaking is an extremely useful skill but talking in front of a large group can be a nightmare for some. Prove to them they can take the microphone. Enroll a friend in a diction and public speaking course as a surprise or buy a ticket for the nearest TED Talk in your city to cheer on the process as a first step. Also, watching someone else talk sets a good example that could motivate your friend into believing in themselves.

Stand by friends with a fear of heights this year. A great way to overcome that fear is to embrace nature. Persuade them to participate in climbing. You could both join training sessions and improve your skills. This kind of activity would help improve confidence. Also, you can take it a step further next summer and treat them to a visit to Fethiye for paragliding by going ahead and booking a flight.

Sharing is caring

Learn to be happy through the happiness of others. Teach yourself the lightness of being able to please others without waiting for something in return in the new year. Remember how simple your basic, daily needs are - actually, what a great luxury it is that they are met. Now imagine a day without them. I'm sure there is someone around you living in hope of having one of the most basic but indispensable things. Help someone in need be more comfortable this year.

Buy a pair of warm socks and dry shoes for someone who needs them or a cozy, soft bed for the cats living on the streets. Think about what it is like to sleep on the sidewalk on a cold, dark night. Use up some unused things cluttering the house by building cat houses from cardboard boxes and lining them with your old sweaters and blankets.

Go grab your favorite childhood books on your bookshelves. Rather than gathering dust on the shelves, let them be an inspiration for bright futures. Donate these books to schools in need. I always sign or write a little note whenever I give a book as a present cause there is nothing like sharing a world that has left a mark on you. You can sign your name, note wishes for the new readers or list the importance of this book for you to inspire others. There is no better gift than a book read by someone else; it lets you to follow a whole new world that has already gone through someone else's hands.

Adopt plants

Not only animals, but also plants can be adopted. Having plants at home reduces stress and anxiety. A study published in the Journal of Physiological Anthropology found that people able to interact with indoor plants and touch them were more likely to have less stress. According to a study by Texas A & M University, keeping plants and flowers hidden in your workplace can significantly increase your creative performance and problem-solving skills. Similarly, researchers at the University of Exeter in the U.K. found that indoor plants at work increased the concentration, productivity and health of people by 47 percent. It was also found that being in a place with plants could improve memory by 20 percent. So why not to make you own garden and fill it with natural beauty as a New Year's gift? It is like a pot filled with life. You can deliver these pots on your own either to their workplace or home.

Bunch of health

You can help a relative change unhealthy eating habits in 2019 by buying them a months' worth of organic produce from an organic box delivery service. Organic food is quite popular these days as people are more concerned about their unhealthy eating habits and more informed about the downfalls of using pesticides. Lots of organic produce markets, farms and even online-based settings are easy to access. Go green and give a gift from nature, which is our one true source of health, and help them take the first step this year. Go whole hog and make your own plastic-free organic food basket. Avoid using single-use wrapping by implementing creative ideas. You can decorate you packet with things like pine cones, lavender, rosemary and cinnamon sticks. You could also reuse old wrapping paper. Last year, I colored old newspapers and used them to wrap my gifts. Fill your organic basket with colorful fruit, vegetables, crimson apples, fragrant fresh spice bunches, vivid orange carrots, zucchini, eggplant, broccoli, radishes, red and green peppers and mandarins.

Early bird catches the worm

How about helping your friend grow their own pine tree for 2020? A nice way to keep the memory of your gift going is to plant one. You can either give a pine seedling as a gift that they can grow at home or make a donation to a nature fund so the foundation can plant a pine tree in your friend's name.

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