food, photos, and coffee – ideas for a non-traditional holiday + FREE abundant giving planner

ornament by ashley anna brown
red striped cat ornament by ashley anna brown - click image to see more

You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
– Khalil Gibran

While I’m sure your holiday gift giving has been evolving for at least the last few years, it seems “easier” than ever to make nontraditional gifts the focus of your exchanges. Of course, I hope you consider handmade gifts this holiday season – both ones you make & ones you buy.

But you can also treat your loved ones to a special experience or simply take the time to send them a personal letter with a pretty greeting card. What’s important, at the dawn of our new economy, is to concentrate on buying gifts that the recipients actually want/need and not just to fulfill some misguided obligation.

I, for one, need no more junk. And so while I’ll definitely be asking for a few key things from a few key people, in general, I want a highly non-traditional holiday.

So, in that spirit, I bring you an Abundant Giving Planner for you to download & print. It’s a simple reminder that the holidays don’t have to be hectic (or a nasty reminder of our obsession with stuff).

Need some ideas for things in each category? Try these:


  • Food – always appreciated, doesn’t stick around long
  • Craft Supplies – useful beyond the initial gift giving
  • Non-disposable Replacements – that stainless steel water bottle Suzie’s been eyeing up or Megan’s cozy/cuff.


  • Food – see a pattern here?
  • Something to hang on the walls – I love Vana’s new book on silhouette art (review coming soon!)
  • Ornaments – most people love handmade ornaments but don’t have the time or skill
  • Jewelry – Brittni’s got a great tute here!
  • Terrariums – still a great trend and keeps giving long after the holidays


  • Food – a nice dinner, tapas, too much chocolate cake, fish & chips…
  • Coffee – lots of people have given up their fancy coffee habit, treat your friend to an extra special espresso
  • Antiquing – this may defeat the point of an experiential gift, but it’s always more fun with two!
  • Photo Walk – two friends, two cameras, and a crisp afternoon
  • Crafty Party – you bring the supplies, she’ll bring the wine


  • Write a letter – anyone can sign their name to a card, write a personal letter
  • Send along a calendar – try this take along calendar from contributor Julie Green

Anyway you shake it, this holiday season, you’ve got a lot of options. So print out the FREE Abundant Giving Planner and organize your own non-traditional, but abundant, holiday season!

16 thoughts on “food, photos, and coffee – ideas for a non-traditional holiday + FREE abundant giving planner

  1. Thanks so much for this great idea–and I love the design! What font is the cursive one (on the planner)? I love it.
    I don’t get here as often as I’d like–with work, school, parenting, and all I haven’t made any art in a long time and I barely get to read more than status updates on FB. Love your new look and feel cheered and inspired by this post! Thanks again!
    Emily T.

  2. Great post!

    I will be taking this route this year by sewing a handmade ornament and baking biscotti (it was a HUGE hit last year – so it’s become my traditional Christmas cookie) for everyone on my list!

  3. Thank you!! I’ve been stressing out about Christmas this week… this has helped me to take a deep breath and step back and remind myself that I don’t actually have to do everything. I tend to think that it’s my responsibility to make magic for everyone. But it’s so not the case. Whew!!!

  4. Thanks for this post! I am participating in Angela Flicker’s Holiday Blog Hop ( and needed the Abundant Gift Giving Planner (did you read my mind???)! It took me about 5 minutes to print this out and use it to organize what gift I was getting for who and what the budget was. Wow – I think this is the first time I have seen where all the money goes at Christmas time! Whew weee!!!!

    This is definitely a great tool to have as a mindful spender in the making. I am realizing that I have always held the belief that buying handmade is *harder*, but I wanted to do it out of principal. Now I am realizing that this holiday season is going to be so much friggin’ less stressful buying meaningful gifts online (in my pj’s no less) that get delivered to my doorstep rather than braving shopping malls. It does take a little more foresight, but this tool is really helpful in that way, and it’s gonna take so much stress off my plate in the long run and save me some money (because I am actually giving each gift a budget and *thinking* about it, as well as alternatives to gifts.

    Thanks so much!!!!

  5. Thanks for the planner. I like the way you think. Unless I can find a perfect handmade gift or book I always give consumables. I know most parents especially appreciate my not filling their home with more plastic battery operated toys.

  6. I would like very much to be able to print out that planner. It is exactly what I have been meaning to write up myself, but much prettier than my hand-written one would have been. I can’t get it to load properly, though. Every time I try to open it or download it and open it, it’s just a blank document.

  7. Thanks for this post. Love the ideas esp since I have a family who are impossible to buy for. :) Aaand I love any way to opt out of the consumerism money-go-round

  8. I love the Photo Walk idea. A gift of time and experience. I love it. I may actually do this by myself and send the photos to my good friend who lives far away from me. I’ll visit places she loves and new places I want to share. Thanks, Tara, for the idea!

  9. how about this as an idea for your calendar gift-giving: when you buy that take-along calendar from up up creative (just sayin’ – Tara had a good idea) why not pencil in a few special dates in advance for those experiential things above? a coffee date, a day of window shopping, a movie…

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