(for the reluctant creative)
Share a creative gift that will continue to uplift and upskill the people you love.
When it comes to the holidays, I prefer not to give a gift card. In most cases, it feels impersonal; for me, it’s a last resort.
If you know someone looking to find a better work-life balance, think differently, or make strides in their industry this year – I recommend practicing creative habits to keep the mind sharp and the cogs turning (even in the background!)
I’ve curated creative gift ideas for yourself to give to friends, loved ones or coworkers inspired by my framework for building a creative mindset: D.A.N.C.E. These habits are meant to expand your comfort zone and increase your unique and individual creativity!
80% of people who do something creative say it brings them happiness, even if the creative output is terrible. These creative gifts are sure to be fun options for your Secret Santa.
I have used or purchased most of these items myself, but not all.
Note: A few links (indicated with a * are affiliate links. If you take action after clicking this link, I might get a few pennies to put toward my next pair of Fluevogs – read the creative process behind this iconic Canadian shoe company)
Daydream: Buddha Board or Sand Desktop
Engaging in an easy task keeps your critical and thinking brain busy while you allow your imagination network (AKA the Default Mode Network) room to play. It’s the same reason why people often get great ideas while in the shower, walking, driving, or doing the dishes.
Try a Buddha Board or a Sand Desktop to encourage the creative habit of daydreaming.
I love these Japanese-inspired drawing tablets with water. It’s a great way to doodle while daydreaming! Get the Buddha Board*
Watching sand settle into unique images is a great break for the mind and allows your default mode network to simmer on problems or challenges you are trying to solve. Get a Sand Desktop*
The most effective daydreaming involves thinking about a problem you are trying to solve or considering something fantastical.
Maybe these are the mountain range in an alien kingdom?
Are there intelligent organisms living in the grains of sand, and what does their civilization look like?
Try to avoid using your precious daydreaming time to ruminate on an email or consider how you could have done something different. Give your Default Mode Network a problem to solve and let it percolate!
AMBIGUITY: Meditation Cushion
Facing ambiguity is an inevitable part of our fast-paced society. Meditation can be a helpful tool for your creativity by helping to increase your tolerance for facing ambiguous scenarios.
The funny thing about meditation is that it negatively correlates with divergent thinking (AKA imagining all the possibilities). This makes sense, if you are trying to dream up 10 different possibilities for a theme for the staff Christmas party, you will be dreaming about future possibilities.
Meditation is firmly rooted in the present moment, which does not allow for dreaming up possibilities.
Except, here’s where it gets interesting. Kerryn Fewster, Ambiguity Expert, co-author of the Ambiguity Workplace Study, founder of AdaptIQ Minds (and guest on my livestream series Creative Lifescaping!), explained how mindfulness helps creativity in our interview here.
Mindfulness makes room for creativity because it makes room for ambiguity and stops us from jumping to quick action without considering alternative possibilities.
Normally, when faced with ambiguity, we jump to status quo, subpar solutions. With mindfulness, we can develop more comfort in uncertainty and face ambiguity with less angst.
In that space, we can create room to think of new solutions instead of grasping for what’s worked in the past or what seems most obvious.
I meditate daily, sometimes for 5 minutes, other times for 25 minutes. Daily meditation actually changes the structure of your brain. I can attest to meditation’s benefits to my emotional regulation and focus, which is saying a lot as a person with ADHD.
They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but learning new tools and taking classes to level up (whether its in your career or a fun hobby) is a great way to engage your creativity!
Your brain is like a massive universe, filled with stars, planets, asteroids and space debris. Every experience, relationship, skill and event populate your universe.
When you are trying to solve a problem, like when you are daydreaming, imagine a rocket ship blasting off into the vast expanse of your brain.
The larger and more diverse your universe brain, the more likely your rocket ship will discover a unique solution through analogy, a combination of ideas, and lateral thinking.
There are so many options in the Masterclass Library. Just pick one and share this creative gift to expand your universe brain!
CURIOSITY: Mason Jars
One creative thinking task is to choose an object and name all the things you can use it for (nonsensical or not) – what can you create in a mason jar? I’ll start!
- Are you CURIOUS about all the recipes you can adapt for a mason jar gift? Gift your favourite cookie, soup, or dog cookie recipe in a Mason jar. I have to say, the gingerbread cookie jar is my favourite, and you can make that one with this recipe!
- The sky’s the limit on what you can put in a mason jar snow globe. Check out this article for some ideas.
You can also use your creativity to find different containers to use or decorate the jar in a new way!
Here is an article of mason jar gift ideas to get you started.
EDIT LATER: Cookie Cutter
When you’re not a professional baker, decorating your holiday gingerbread cookies means getting over things being not quite perfect.
Given that there is an imperfect gingerbread cookie on the cover of my book, The Reluctant Creative, I had to include a cookie cutter on this list. Use the cutter to make cookies – and don’t be afraid of Martha-Stewart-worthy cookies.
Use the cookie cutters creatively – to make fun finger sandwiches, for play dough, or as a stencil to create your own wrapping paper. Don’t overthink and be willing to try something different, knowing it could fail. Or, it could be amazing. Give it a shot!
For The Book Nerds
Here are some of my favourite books for applying your creativity:
- Keri Smith* One of my favourites. If you are looking for ways to get out of the arbitrary rules and structure of “life” to train your brain to see things differently, check out any of Keri Smith’s books.
- My Creative Space by Donald Rattner* Did you know your environment can impact your levels of creativity? Learn how to design your home and workspace to stimulate ideas and spark innovation.
- Embrace Your Weird by Felicia Day*
- The Creativity Challenge by Tanner Christensen*
- Creativity Rules by Tina Seelig*
‘Tis the season for author self-promotion, so I’d like to mention my book, The Reluctant Creative to help you continue developing a creative mindset with five easy habits.
It’s a light and fun literary mullet – fun in the front, data in the back. Convince even the most reluctant creative that connecting with your elemental human gift of creativity is the secret sauce to survive and thrive in this decade (& beyond!).
Filled with stories, case studies, peer-reviewed data, and exercises to get the creative juices flowing. Learn the benefits of DANCEing with your everyday creativity.
Not convinced? Here’s what they’re saying about the book:
This practical and funny book can help anyone find their creative spark. Equally important, it will make you smile.Daniel H. Pink, #1 New York Times Bestselling author of WHEN, TO SELL IS HUMAN, and DRIVE.
This book is a quick, fun, and light read that delivers huge bang for its buck! Caroline’s effortless habits are simple to follow and easily actionable for results. I wish I had read this book years ago so I could’ve learned to own my creativity like I do now!Natasha Purnell, CAIB, Chief Culture Officer, Park Insurance
What happens when you cross a veterinarian with a researcher and a stand-up comedian? You get a writer with a delightful sense of humor providing an evidence-based dissection of creativity with a step-by-step guide on how to nurture it in your daily lifeDavid Newman, PhD – Creativity Alchemist – Creatific Culture Labs, UBC Creativity Professor
Happy Holidays to you, and I hope you find this creative gift guide a helpful resource in your research for Christmas gifts this year!