The ‘Hilary Hates Gifts’ Non-stuff Gift Guide

'Here, the calendar made me give you this...' How to give the holiday gifting racket a good kick in the ass.

Credit: Kristen Hilderman

‘Here, the calendar made me give you this…’ How to give the holiday gifting racket a good kick in the ass


I’m not a gift person. Sure, I love getting something thoughtful because someone just knew I had to have it, but the whole “the calendar made me give you this” thing makes me cringe. Plus, I don’t need any more stuff. I have enough stuff.


Non-stuff gift idea #1: Art

But giving something handmade, or hand written, that’s another story. There’s a poetry to giving a beloved friend something fashioned from the creative mind of an artist, from materials that were hand selected and hand shaped, specially chosen because you know it would be something they’d cherish.


And Vancouver has no shortage of talented artists crafting one-of-a-kind works of useful and/or decorative art that speak of the place from which they draw inspiration. Also no shortage of holiday markets to browse their wares.


Check out Davinia’s roundup of upcoming Vancouver area artisan markets and enter to win tickets (and a swag bag) to Make It! Vancouver, Got Craft? and the One of a Kind Show & Sale through the Granville Magazine Facebook page.


Non-stuff gift idea #2: Support

As an alternative, supporting local nonprofits, social enterprises and charities are an obvious choice for non-stuff gifting. Music, art and cultural experiences, as well.


I just learned about the Faithful Neighbours monthly concert series, which offers both: a fundraiser for different Downtown Eastside organizations with live performances by local bands. This month, on November 24, 2010, Vancouver-based band beekeeper, Aunts and Uncles and Painted Cities take the stage to raise money and awareness for Power of Women, a support network of and for women living in extreme poverty.


Treat a buddy to the price of admission and your gift will be twofold. (Threefold if you pass along this Granville mag download code for beekeeper’s debut album: TASTY BALSAM.)


Non-stuff idea #3: Adventure

For me, adventure is a daily priority. And I don’t just mean epic Indiana Jones-scale escapades. All sorts of things can constitute an adventure: a new-to-you restaurant on the other side of town, a public art bike tour in the rain, a sewing class with friends, talking to a stranger on the street, a beer at the legion, giving away free grilled cheese just because, walking across the Burrard Bridge after a night out in Chinatown…


You can’t pack these up into fancy boxes and put them under the tree, but you can take them with you wherever you go—in the form of the memories they inspire and the lessons they teach… not to mention the new friends met along the way.


A handwritten note on handmade stationary picked up at one of those markets I mentioned before, summing up in a sentence or two what you admire about a person, and an “IOU an adventure” might just be the most personal gift I can think of.


That, or an iPad… Or hugs—I love hugs.