Gifting Circle says “Good-bye” to “Buy”

by Steve Bhaerman, a.k.a., Swami Beyondananda

While in Ashland, Trudy and I were privileged to be part of a “gifting circle” hosted by Bill and his wife Zoe. On a Sunday evening, some two dozen people gathered for a delicious and carefully-prepared potluck (each individual proudly “introduced” the dish they brought). After ample time for chatting in two’s and three’s and four’s during a leisurely dinner, we reconvened in a circle. As we went around, each individual offered a “gift,” made a request, or both. Both gifts and requests included items and services, some more tangible and some less. Someone who had just moved to town required a food processor – and someone else had one they weren’t using. Others offered personal services that many in the room might not have been able to afford. However, in a circle of exchange and reciprocity, they were able to use these services and offer something of value as well. Consequently, everyone’s life became richer … without the use of money.

So … as we approach the holiday season, what does all this mean? For one thing, it means that giving and receiving need not involve money at all. What if we hosted pre-holiday “gifting circles” in our community for friends and acquaintances, where we offered and requested gifts from one another that wouldn’t necessarily involve exchange of money?

I remember vividly my mixed feelings three years ago when a few relatives called and asked if it were OK if we “didn’t exchange gifts this year.” Like everyone else in the retail business, I looked forward to holiday sales. However, I could see that the economic crisis that October had – out of necessity – broken the trance of buy, buy, buy. With less discretionary income, people were using more discretion in choosing how to spend what they had. And that’s a good thing.

Steve Bhaerman is an internationally known author, humorist, and workshop leader. For the past 23 years, he has written and performed as Swami Beyondananda, the “Cosmic Comic.” Please visit:

Author/speaker Janet F. Williams is a high-end sales professional, sales trainer and coach for personal and professional development. She speaks on topics contained in her award-winning book “You Don’t Ask, You Don’t Get” to businesses, networking groups, non-profits, book clubs and more. For more information or to buy the book, please visit: and

2 Responses to “Gifting Circle says “Good-bye” to “Buy””

  1. Carol Knoppow
    November 29th, 2011 at 6:08 pm

    Unique and very good idea.

  2. Hugh
    March 20th, 2013 at 11:06 am

    Very lovely! I like this concept very much. I must point out though, after doing some research, that what you have described is a “gift circle”. This is the practice of “gift economics”, and is very different from a “gifting circle”. A “gifting circle” involves the exchange of money in the form of a pyramid scheme, and is illegal. It’s quite an issue that these two very different things have such similar names.

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