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This holiday season, families can achieve the sharing of kindness and meaningful gift giving by exploring mindfulness meditation in order to give the gift of mindful presence. Not only does the gift of mindful presence benefit those around you, it benefits the gift givers themselves by granting feelings of calmness and deeper awareness of the world around them. Read more in our post, The Gift of a Mindful Presence.

Instead of buying presents for the holidays this year, why not do it yourself, and get the whole family involved! Sienna Wildfield shares non-commercial gift-giving ideas and the value of making your own gifts to give for the holidays.

During the holiday season, gift-giving is considered a traditional aspect of our seasonal celebrations. Instead of purchasing a gift, gift givers can also look to the domestic arts, crafts, and visual arts for inspiration in making handmade gifts that encourage originality and thought. This week in Learning Ahead we are featuring ways to give gifts that are value-base (non-commerical & creative-free play), support learning and accessible through community-based events, resources and opportunities!

Take the challenge this year by shopping local and non-commercial during the holiday season. The abundance of craft fairs and open studios happening in the area featuring handmade products by local artists and artisans make it easy to find that special something when looking for a gift of any kind. Handmade wood or glass ornaments, hand-knitted scarves, upcycled accessories, one-of-a kind prints and stationary… our region is filled with a strong creative economy filled with amazing artisans!

Making a zine is a rewarding, creative process and can certainly be a part of your gift giving plans for the holidays. Need some inspiration for your zine-making adventures? We have a great local resource and documentary to share with you!

Makerspaces inspire creativity! These community places provide the space to combine science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM!) in order to make and create. They are like an artist’s studio but also include digital making as well as physical making. Activities include woodworking, electronics, computers, 3D printing, knitting, screen printing, sewing, and more! Western Massachusetts has a number of community maker spaces to start brainstorming your do-it-yourself gift giving ideas.

An age-old skill, knitting provides us with some of our most treasured warm clothes. Learning the art of knitting can not only help to provide warmth, but can lead to explorations of local history, local agriculture, and complex math – and families can even engage in service-based learning by donating hand-knitted goods to help support people in need!

Tis becoming to season to pay special attention to spreading kindness to those around us! Families can spread kindness by sharing homemade foods with neighbors, and can expand this activity to include studies of world cultures by baking foods enjoyed internationally!

QUESTION AND ANSWERS Diane Hinze Kanzler writes, “So, last year I was considered a huge dork because, apparently, one is expected to give Christmas gifts to our child’s teacher/teacher’s aide. And I didn’t know this, being of a much older generation where those things didn’t happen. What’s the skinny? Is this now mandatory? And what does one do if the teacher in question is Jewish?” Claire Lobdell responds, “My mother-in-law, an elementary… Read More

Dina Raymond of Goshen, MA writes: I’ve been speaking to my kids about how fortunate we are and how much we have … so I set up a “donation” box for them to put toys into that they would like to pass along to children who may not get any this Holiday season, be it Christmas, Hanukah, Winter Solstice or Kwanzaa. They are filling up the box! Times have changed, as we… Read More

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