Official Studio [Y] Alternative Gift Giving Guide

This post was originally featured on the Studio [Y] website. It was written in December 2014 to highlight alternative forms of gifting over the holiday season. 

Gearing up for this holiday season, we put the Studio Y elves to work, gathering together Ontario’s young braintrust to create the Official 2014 Studio Y Alternative Gift Giving Guide.

After toiling away in the Studio, the Studio Y Fellows came up with the a substantial list of alternative gifts. Prior to jumping directly to solutions-oriented thinking however, they implored you to first take a few moments to look at your gift-giving design process. (These process-related tips just happened to correspond with the five central mindsets that Fellows build during their time at Studio Y, but rest assured, that had nothing to do with these recommendations.)

Tips For Revamping Your Gift-Giving Design Process

  1. DESIGN YOUR GIFT WITH YOUR RECIPIENT IN MIND (DESIGN THINKING)

    While you could think of nothing more exciting than receiving a recycled, heavily-used yoga mat for your holiday gift (reduce, reuse, recycle!), your gift recipient might actually be one of the few folks that haven’t caught the yoga bug.
    Consider: What’s one thing that I might be able to do, create, or design for my gift recipient that could bring them greater joy?

  2. NO GIFT IS GIVEN OR RECEIVED IN ISOLATION FROM ALL OTHER GIFTS. (SYSTEMS THINKING)

    Gifts, like any other new element in a system, will interact with the ecosystem in which it is introduced. If you and your cousin both intervene in the system of your aunt’s life with the same gift, it’s likely to lead to disaster.
    Consider: What gap might my present fill in the void of my gift recipient’s life? How might I give the smallest possible gift that delivers the greatest possible joy / impact?

  3. PROTOTYPE EARLY. IF YOUR GIFT IS GOING TO FAIL, HAVE IT FAIL FAST. (ENTREPRENEURIAL THINKING)

    You’ve been toiling away in your shop for days creating the perfect gift (prototype) for mom (you’re going to 3D-print her a statue of her favourite rock legend), but you don’t yet have a clue whether she’ll like the gift.
    Consider: How might you sneakily ask mom if she’s keen on 3D printing tech or thinks it’s all a bit dodgy? Perhaps, over dinner one night, slip it into casual conversation, ensuring that on launch day (gift exchange day), you’re sure to have a market winner.

  4. GIVE A GIFT THAT STARTS A CONVERSATION. (CRITICAL THINKING)

    While a holiday sweater might seem the easiest gift giving option for uncle Ned, how might you offer up a gift that engages his heart, his head and his hands?
    Consider: How might you give a gift that requires less consumption? How might you give a gift that’s purchased or made by a community other than your own? What gift might prompt a conversation about the many different traditions associated with gift giving?

  5. THIS HOLIDAY SEASON, CHOOSE EVIDENCE-BASED GIFT GIVING. (ANALYTICAL THINKING)

    Last holiday season, you gave your niece the latest edition of The Hunger Games. After all, you thought, how could I go wrong? It was ranked No. 1 on GiftsToGetYourNiece.com! Well-intentioned gift-giver, it is in these moments when the Studio Y elves implore you to choose your data carefully. While broad-based internet rankings may tell you one thing, a more selective data set will show a vastly different picture.
    Consider: What information might you be able to collect about the last few disposable income purchasing decisions your niece has made? What might you glean from asking your niece about her about favourite activities, hobbies or past experiences?

The Official 2014 Studio Y Alternative Gift Giving Guide

With those process tips in mind, onto the Official 2014 Studio Y Alternative Gift Giving Guide!

The Maker’s Digest features daily listings of the maker-related events happening around Toronto.

For the Experiential Learner:

For the Foodie Family:

  • Give them a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) / Farm Share:This is a take on an old holiday classic. Rather than giving your gift recipient a membership at the “Jello of the Month” club, consider giving them a farm share — a guarantee of a fresh, local farm-filled vegetable and fruit box each week. A map of Ontario-based CSAs can be found here.

For the Builder or Maker:

  • Workshops, Workshops, Workshops:Consider hands-on workshops such as Ladies Learning Code, a Toronto-based coding school for women and youth. Or consider a full-access pass to the Entrepreneur’s Winter Intensive Program in Hamilton or in Toronto at MaRS.
  • Membership to a Tool Library, Maker Space, or Kitchen Library: For spaces such as these, check out the Toronto Tool LibrarySite3 CoLaboratory, and the Kitchen Library.
  • Create a 3D printed object for a loved one: Sites like the Toronto Tool Library and Site3 provide access to 3D printers, but so too do a couple of Toronto’s Public Libraries.

For the Kid (or the child in all of us):

  • Comics: Buy your superhero a copy of “The SuperGreeners”, an environmentally themed Canadian comic book.
  • Make it and break it: If you have a little maker in the family, check out spaces like MakerKids, where they’ll have an opportunity for a little purposeful play.

For the Transit Geek:

  • A reason to ditch their car: Car and bikesharing sites have spread across this province like wildfire. If you have a driver in the family who’d be interested in the occasional use of a car, consider for them a membership to car-sharing services like Autoshare or Car2Go.

For the Family That Likes To Do Things Together:

  • Create a family history in real time: What’s a better time to ask your grandparents, aunts, uncles, and parents about the history of your family? Consider turning this into a storytelling exercise that puts your grandparents front and centre as chief storytellers! Bonus: Turn this into a children’s book that can be given to your younger cousins / kids / grandkids for their birthdays!

If all else fails, and your gift ends up being a flop, console yourself with being able to suggest that your sorrowful gift recipient throw a post-holiday gift swap party!

From all of us at Studio Y, happy gifting!