With Parties not an option this year, many Communities are turning to Gift Bags.
Many Local Spiritual Assemblies are taking the money normally budgeted for parties and refreshments and using it instead for personalized gift bags for every household in the community. Though parties can strengthen preexisting bonds, gift bags have some real advantages as well.
First, while a party attracts the usual, active members of the Community – especially those with children – gift bags can be created for every single person in the community. This creates a natural way to make contact with people you don’t see very often.
Here is one community’s experience with gift bags:
“The background is that our Assembly (over many months) was trying to think of ways to reach out to believers who have not been communicating nor participating for some time as attempts to call, text and email were not working. We decided on making gift bags for those families. Each of us (on the LSA) participated in creating the contents. Someone bought gift bags, someone made a Baha’i 9 pointed star for each one, to those with small children Baha’is children’s books were added; cookies, canned goods, incense, a card with a Baha’i quote or prayer was added. Then the secretary and her husband contacted each and arranged to deliver (masked of course) each gift. According to the secretary, the response was amazing and she was brought to tears… She said each of them either called, texted or emailed how touched they were and one even gave a huge donation to the Fund.”
Second, gift bags can be personalized for each family. Instead of guessing which families might show up and buying random gifts, you can pick appropriate gifts for the ages and personalities of each household.
So what kind of gifts might you include?
Well, start with the personal. Something touched by the hand of an Assembly member will say more than anything you might buy from me. Cookies, a decoration, a hand-written note, a crafted star, or just a card with all nine signatures on it. Something that says “we didn’t foist this off on a committee, we thought of you specifically.”
Once you’ve made the personal connection, what kinds of gifts might you add?
Here are some ideas for Community-Wide Gifts that are medium priced and are appropriate for almost everyone.
Priced between $1.50 and $10 each, community gifts help everyone feel included and appreciated. Here are just a few ideas:
Charms & Lapel Pins – Upscale gifts at low prices
Awareness Bracelets – Something they will wear every day.
Pens – Including stylus pens, pen sets and flashlight pens.
Prayer Books – Many of our prayer books are much less than $10.
Lanyards for professionals and students.
Prayer Coins in either wood or metal are low-cost and long-lasting gift.
Tote Bags – These can double as the bags you fill with goodies.
Add Special Gifts for Kids
These should be matched to the age and personality of the kids in the household. We have so many new products for children that we had to create a new category for children’s gifts. See them all here. including flags, placemats, magnets, games, coloring books, cards, and crafts.
Our Character Coins make a wonderful gift for any individual committed to learning about virtues and developing their character. They can also be divided up to become 52 individual gifts, matching virtues to the recipient.
Here is a list of some other gifts that are appropriate for specific individuals:
Mandala Coloring Books – Our Affirmation Coloring Book for adults is also fun for older kids.
Books – While any book makes a great gift, here are some “gift” books.
Jewelry – from $10.00 plated pendants to $33.00 gold-plated sterling silver.
T-shirts – Choose just the design and color your friend would like.
Flags -A house warming gift or a room decoration for a student. One community is delivering Joyous Naw-Ruz door flags to every home.
Along with books and crayons and pins, how about some prayers? Include a card saying that on the last day of Ayyam-i-Ha, the Local Spiritual Assembly will be meeting to say a prayer for each individual in the community, and asking if there is anything in specific they would like a prayer to be said for.
Not only does this express concern for people as individuals, but it might give the Assembly a better idea of the challenges that individuals are facing and how to better meet their needs.
Who Do We Give Them to?
The last question might be the most important. Obviously, you don’t want to leave out anyone on your Baha’i membership list, but what about all of the Friends of the Faith who might usually have come to an Ayyam-i-Ha party? What about the friends you haven’t seen in a while? The ones who don’t like zoom devotionals?
These questions assume that your community pays attention to who attends activities, and that you have contact information for them. If you don’t, now would be a good time to assemble a list.
I can also assure you that Friends of the Faith who receive holiday gift bags from you will remember your thoughtfulness for months or years to come. They might very well be the nicest thing to happen to them since the pandemic began.
The categories you need to consider are 1) Personal gifts for the adults and children in your community. 2) Community-wide gifts your LSA might want to give to everyone, 3) Hand-made or personalized gifts from Assembly members and 4) Prayers
Make the bags nice, but something you can afford to give to both community members and Friends of the Faith. Personalize them as much as you can.
US Customers – The Post Office is still slower than usual. Please order by the 16th to assure delivery before Ayyam-i-Ha. Add extra time for assembling gift bags.
International Customers!!! Priority Mail International takes 7-11 days if we are lucky. First Class International can take even longer, so please order ASAP for delivery by Ayyam-i-Ha.