Meaningful giving

With only 103 days til Christmas (said no busy Mum ever), we’re fast approaching that time of year when lists are made, requests sought and credit cards stretched.

And every year there’s the same media banter around festive countdowns, bestseller lists and then, in January, the chaotic sales followed by budget blowouts.

But this is one hangover you can avoid. Planning ahead, setting budgets and shopping around are all pretty obvious starting points but beyond that, how about taking a considered approach to retail excursions?

The old adage that it’s better to give than to receive is also worth keeping in mind – and discussing with your kids. I detest kids generating long lists of stuff they want. Where’s the joy in that? Some of the best gifts my children ever received have been well-considered, surprise items from relatives.

And if they get a double up – so what? Take them down to Women’s Refuge, Presbyterian Support or other not-for-profit social service agencies. Some kids get so much and some so little – redress the balance. To be honest, there are very few “things” many kids need and wants should be satisfied sparingly.

I’ve changed my shopping habits in recent years. Rather than buying stuff throughout the year and putting it away with no specific recipient in mind, I buy less in a more considered fashion.

It’s much more fun to give items that are not mass produced, mass marketed and generic.

Here are a few of my local favourites. I’m sure you’ll have similar where you live too:

Starfish Photos and Design – the lovely Michele Newman is a well-known photographer who has developed her talents into a range of products featuring local landscapes. From bespoke stools to reusable shopping bags, Starfish items are often beautiful AND useful. You can view them online OR visit her in her gallery on McIntosh Road (turn right opposite the beach) most Sundays 11-3pm.

Trade Aide – At the Southern end of George Street,the good folk at Trade Aid peddle their wares from around the world. Trade Aid is a social enterprise helping talented people around the world improve their lives through fair trade. If you’re not really “doing” gifts for the adults in your family, try their fair trade coffee and chocolate of chocolate or handcrafted Christmas decorations for under $20. Nothing like retail therapy that makes you feel good for spending!

Artisan State – can’t forget our Brighton barristers. As well as selling a gorgeous range of reusable coffee cups from the caravan, this enterprising duo have also converted a contained into a pop up gift store on site and sell quirky prints, jewellery, home wares and other locally made gifts.

Otago Museum, Toitu Otago Early Settlers and Dunedin Public Art Gallery – the Otago Museum shop is renown for its elegant mementos of Otago and New Zealand. There’s definitely a Kiwi flavour to the hand-crafted jewellery while the educational toys are awesome for those curious about the world and the young at heart. The shop at Toitu also has a great range of unique items with a retro-Kiwiana feel which aim to capture the essence of Dunedin and Otago.  In the Octagon, the DPAG stocks a stunning range of printed reproductions, books and design objects.


Shopping locally for carefully crafted, meaningful items throughout the year is bound to bring more pleasure to the giver and the receiver while also supporting local artisans, craftspeople and entrepreneurs.

After all, it’s the thought that counts.



PS That’s 14 weeks until Christmas by the way 😉



4 thoughts on “Meaningful giving

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  1. We just returned from Maine where we made great finds in the Maine Artisan shops. These are collectives of artists who take turns staffing the store, so they are fun to talk with. We also purchased from another cooperative which supports the work of artists on outlying islands. We always look for local art from the artists when we travel. It is one of my favorite parts of trips.


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