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Do It Better: The Art of Gifts in the Season of Giving

By Joyce Venezia Suss

It is much better to give than to receive. This classic proverb has been passed down through countless generations, yet the art of giving is often misinterpreted in this materialistic world. True giving comes from the heart, even if it sounds cliché. Giving is not just buying and wrapping a physical object, especially if you feel pressured or obligated to give – and especially during the holiday season.

As a child, did you ever create a coupon book for a parent or sibling because you didn’t have money to buy a gift? Perhaps the coupons were good for a free hug, brushing the dog, raking leaves in the yard or doing something other than a required chore.

A gift is open to much interpretation. One of the best gifts is your time: regularly calling elderly friends and sharing stories that make them laugh; walking a neighbor’s dog while they are on vacation; and making meals for a sick friend. Share emotional support for someone going through a difficult time by letting them vent their feelings of sorrow or frustration.

Giving can be as simple as a genuine smile or saying thank you; sharing a compliment (even with a stranger); and spending quality time with loved ones. It’s letting the frazzled mother of a crying toddler move ahead of you in the supermarket line.

Giving is cleaning out the office refrigerator without being asked. It’s volunteering – as small as holding open a door for a senior citizen, or regularly working at a soup kitchen.

You can give someone a hand – applauding, helping, assisting. Give a public shout-out to someone who deserves praise or appreciation. Give yourself a fresh start, or offer it to someone who may have hurt you in the past.

Give unused or extra furniture and other household objects to someone in need. Contribute to a food drive, or better yet, organize one. And if you feel you must buy a gift, it doesn’t have to be expensive. Research has shown that even sharing a pack of candy with another person can increase your personal happiness.

If you want to make a charitable monetary donation, select an organization and verify if it is legitimate by using a charity assessment organization such as CharityNavigator.org.

True giving brings happiness because you are grateful for the relationship you have with the recipient. You give willingly, and you take the time to find something that comes from the heart. Studies have shown that sharing kindness – even small acts – decreases your stress levels and provides personal health benefits

Best of all, giving from the heart is contagious. It inspires others to act the same, trust one another, and it contributes to a strong community, whether it’s your family, neighborhood or workplace.

And if you are still looking for a creative gift to give this holiday season, go ahead and make a grown-up version of that childhood coupon book – with no expiration dates!

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