The Everyday Ambassador Gift Guide

ornamentEvery December as a child, there was something magical about how a piece of notebook paper mailed to the “North Pole” could translate to a gift under our family Christmas tree. Working on the presumption that I was good, I used to scribble on paper what I wanted most for Christmas that year and address it to the one and only Santa Claus. Afterwards, my dad would collect my letter, along with my brother and sister’s, and say he would take special care at the post office to make sure they would arrive at the North Pole on time. Admittedly, I believed him for years.

While my parents once took these lengths to make Christmas special for me and my siblings as children, they have never asked for much in return – at least not tangible gifts. A few years ago, I remember my mom asking for “a clean house” because it made her feel relaxed to come home to a clean house after a stressful day at work. I’ve also given to charities on my parents’ behalf, and as a kid, I didn’t really understand why.

“Why would you give money to someone you haven’t even met instead of buying a stuffed animal?” my six-year-old self would ask, “A stuffed animal is like a best friend you can fit in your backpack and take everywhere.”

Yes, that last sentence is a direct quote from a crayon-covered first journal, but the sentiment doesn’t quite ring true anymore. As an adult, my best friends no longer fit in backpacks, and

I’m starting to see the perspective that my parents adopted years before: collect experiences, not things. 

In the true spirit of Everyday Ambassador-style giving, we encourage you adopt this philosophy. In lieu of traditional gifts, here are some ideas for some memorable last-minute presents:

bellsGive time.

You don’t have to spent a lot of money to be a thoughtful gift-giver. As an alternative gift, pick a skill that you have, and offer a “coupon” for that task or skill for your friend or loved one. Some ideas to get you started? A massage, cooking lessons, or guitar lessons.

Take someone you love on an adventure.

Book plane tickets for an adventure in the future, visit a new museum in a nearby city, go rock climbing, or surprise someone with a weekend getaway. Point is: do something new!

Can’t travel? Recreate an experience in your own backyard.

Have a “staycation”, and recreate the best parts of somewhere you might have traveled to. For example, make a Parisian-themed night with a homemade dinner, a movie set there or from there, French wine, and/or music. For additional ideas, check out this previous Bucket List piece.

Give knowledge.

Surprise a coworker with tickets to a conference or with a new book that they might like. For any do-gooder, volunteer, activist, educator, or traveler out there, consider gifting our book Everyday Ambassador: Make a Difference by Connecting in a Disconnected World for stories on empathy, focus, patience, and humility.

Give presence – not just presents.

This holiday season, we’re encouraging a digital detox (and have the t-shirts to match!) for you and your family. While selecting and giving gifts is fun to do, it’s your presence that matters more than the presents, so try unplugging from your digital life and be conscious of the people in your analog one.

“Bucket List” is a weekly series curated by Everyday Ambassador Chief Operations Officer Audrey del Rosario. Every Saturday, we will feature events, conferences, and happenings that spark conversation and ignite your inner activist. To stay current with our latest posts, follow #bucketlist or #EAinspired on our other platforms, and check back regularly for updates.

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