A New York Times article recently bemoaned the agony (yes, actual agony) of gift-giving in a city filled with people who either have it all or have seen it all – or both. I mean, really. It’s a gift. You know, something thoughtful that you didn’t need to give? If you’re that worried, just throw cash in an envelope and stick a bow on it. It works quite well in many places.
Still, I understand the desire to show appreciation, love, friendship, and thoughtfulness through gift-giving. The holiday season’s emphasis on gifts can bring nerve-wracking tension for those who have long lists, especially if you’re like me and want to make sure those gifts don’t come with any political entanglements. But between the exposure of Apple’s ethics in China (or lack of), fair-trade issues, and even Hershey’s labor issues, what’s a gift-giver to do?
Shopping in local shops, which benefits our neighbors, is one way to go, and here in Baristaville we have a variety of interesting options. But there are ways to give locally without adding to the tons of stuff we already have. There are lots of wonderful “clutter free” gifts that will satisfy the thoughtfulness quotient as well as help our neighbors develop their own businesses and skills. Here are a few:
Relaxation via Yoga: Do you know someone who has wanted to try yoga, but keeps putting it off? Help out with a few personal sessions of yoga or meditation. Danielle Diamond, a Montclair parent, is well-known in both yoga and meditation circles. Her XenStrength is a popular class at Garden State Yoga and 3Sixty Cycling Studio, and she also offers small group or individual sessions. A private hour of meditation or yoga with Danielle usually runs about $100. If you want something more in line with a stocking stuffer, her new DVD is available in time for the holidays. Contact Danielle at firstname.lastname@example.org. Another Montclair mom, Hala Taher, focuses on pre- and post-natal yoga and pilates. She charges $65 per individual or group session in a home, including a first-time consultation. Fees are higher for larger groups that need a rented space. Contact Hala at BornYogi@hotmail.com to set up a consultation.
Life Coach: Do you know someone who has recently moved, or is thinking about staying home with the kids or going back to work? Or perhaps someone you know wants to go back to school but is having a hard time figuring out if it’s worth it in time and money? Local mom Eloiza Jorge is an Integrated Life Coach who focuses on women’s life transitions. A wonderful gift would be a 90-minute session of “Focus and Discovery” which runs $90. There is a complimentary half-hour consultation prior to a first appointment. Eloiza also offers a 20% discount for teachers and school personnel. Read more about Elo’s coaching here, and you can get to know her a little bit here.
Cooking Help: Take cooking lessons or learn meal planning from Montclair personal chef Siobhan Morello. Working with her client’s personal preferences and skills, Siobhan will plan and execute a week’s worth of meals in a client’s kitchen. At around $225 for a week of freshly prepared meals, this might be the perfect gift for a new parent or someone recovering from a difficult month, year, or work project. Cooking lessons are available at $25 an hour, and Siobhan can provide in-home group cooking demonstrations. See her website In Good Taste for more details and contact information.
Home Organization: Are a friend’s closets stuffed, but she can’t find anything to wear? Does her home office need an overhaul, or does she feel overwhelmed by the clutter in the attic or garage spaces? Montclair’s Nicola Keggin, of Serene Solutions, will help organize closets, basements, or home offices for $65 an hour, usually in three hour time-slots. In the Maplewood area, Christine Muccigrosso will help you “Attack, Purge & Merge” any space in your home for a two-hour minimum of $85 per hour. Check out her website for The Clutter Clinic to find out about her services. Give the gift of calmer surroundings and a fresh start to the new year.
If you are looking for something more general, think about a donation in someone’s name to the Human Needs Food Pantry or even your local library. Perhaps a membership to the Montclair Art Museum, Turtle Back Zoo, Jazz House Kids, or the Liberty Science Center is a good fit for someone on your list. Or how about giving a founding membership to the Montclair International Film Festival? Explore our area for creative gift-giving ideas while helping to keep our towns vibrant!