Gifting with Intention

Nov 27 2023

by Katelyn Whelan

As a creative entrepreneur, living most of my days in inspiring and creative Savannah, GA, I’m proud to have attended the first Southern C Summit. I’ve been an active sponsor for three of the last four years of the events at Sea Island and surely I’ve met a lot of you readers. And may I be one of the first to wish you a very happy holiday season!

I find some of the happiest moments in this season when I’m sharing great meals and laughs with friends and family, and being delighted by the sights of twinkling lights and decor, listening to holiday music, and exchanging gifts. Yes, gift giving! 

My intention today is to share some insights about gifting through my years as a creative marketing professional, packaging designer, community supporter, business owner, shop owner, skin care creator and eco-conscious consumer.

Gifting is so much fun, isn’t it? Finding the right item – and knowing when you see that perfect item for that person is so exciting to me. Who’s with me?

Nothing is worse though, in my opinion, when you need a gift and can’t find what you are looking for. Or nothing is striking you as the right “something”. I hate making hasty decisions! Who needs just “another gift” for the sake of the exchange? 

Thinking beyond what the recipient may “want” and thinking about their values, what they care about, the purpose of the item, can really take your gifting to the next level.

My checklist for what makes a gift special

* Handmade: something special with a human touch

* Buy Local: supports the community 

* Thoughtfully designed (and designed by a female for extra points)



*Caused based gifting: Gifts that give back


*Memory invoking

*An activity 

Crafting a Difference: Handmade Gifts with a Heart, Supporting Local Artisans and Dreams

Giving something handmade, something special with a human touch means so much. It’s not only the creation, but it supports a local community and economy. You’re typically supporting something made by real hands by a person who is giving it their all to make a living creating these items. Or maybe it’s someone who needs a little extra pocket change for a dream they’re hoping to fulfill. 

Some ideas for handmade items could be a beautiful commissioned piece from a local artist, pottery, jewelry or even baked goods made in your own kitchen. This may seem simple, but who has time to make something special for themselves? What a gift to share with others! Think granola, a simple syrup, or seasoned salts. It doesn’t have to be baked goods or sweets. 

When you choose to purchase from local businesses, you’re championing your community, backing the dedicated solo entrepreneurs driving their groundbreaking startups and the cherished local companies that contribute to local employment. When businesses engage with each other locally, money circulates within our community, fostering economic and social enhancement. Supporting local businesses is a powerful form of advocacy that contributes to the resilience and prosperity of our community.

How about Cause-based gifting? 

This may involve making a charitable donation or contributing to a cause on behalf of someone instead of giving a traditional physical gift. This approach is particularly appealing for individuals who already seem to have everything or for those who express a preference for no gifts.

Meaningful Impact: Cause-based gifts allow the giver to make a positive impact on a cause or organization that holds significance to the recipient. This can be especially meaningful, as it demonstrates thoughtfulness and consideration for the recipient’s values and interests.

Reduced Material Clutter: For individuals who have an abundance of possessions or who prefer a minimalist lifestyle, cause-based gifts offer a way to avoid adding to material clutter. It aligns with the growing trend of conscious consumerism and promotes the idea that experiences and contributions to important causes hold more value than material possessions.

Alignment with Values: Some people prefer not to receive gifts because they may feel uncomfortable with the idea of unnecessary consumerism. Cause-based gifting addresses this concern by redirecting the gift-giving spirit towards supporting meaningful causes, aligning with the values of both the giver and the recipient.

Personalization: Cause-based gifts can be highly personalized. Givers can choose a cause that resonates with the recipient’s interests, beliefs, or life experiences, making the gift a reflection of the relationship between the giver and the recipient.

Global Impact: Cause-based gifting allows the recipient to contribute to global or community-based initiatives, fostering a sense of connection and responsibility beyond individual interests. This can be particularly appealing for those who appreciate making a broader impact on the world.

Emotional Fulfillment: Knowing that a gift has made a positive difference in the world or supported a cause close to their heart can bring a deep sense of emotional fulfillment to the recipient. It goes beyond the transient pleasure of receiving a physical item.

In summary, cause-based gifting is a thoughtful and impactful alternative for individuals who are challenging to shop for or who prefer no gifts. It adds a layer of personalization, aligns with values, and contributes to a greater sense of purpose and social responsibility.

And… I’m a little fantical about preserving the Earth’s resources and creating a light footprint.

Before I make any purchases, I think…what is this the item made of? 

My Yes List


Plastic (typically in the packaging of an item)

Avoid too much packaging


Natural Materials




Cotton / Linen / Bamboo (did you know synthetic materials emit plastic fibers into our water systems!?) 

Reclaimed items

Scrap leather



Vintage Ties

Reusable packaging 

Gift fun!

Memory-making gifts and activities hold a special place in the realm of sentimental gifting. Unlike material possessions that may lose their luster over time, the essence of these gifts lies in the experiences and emotions they evoke. Whether it’s a personalized photo album capturing cherished moments, or an experiential gift like a cooking class or skincare making class, these gifts create lasting memories that transcend the tangible. Sentimental gifts, in particular, have the power to deepen connections and strengthen relationships by tapping into shared history and emotions. They go beyond the ordinary, weaving a narrative of shared experiences and meaningful moments in your life together with your friends and family. These gifts not only reflect thoughtfulness but also stand as a testament to the value of shared time and the enduring power of heartfelt memories.

I hope this brings you some clarity and ideas to use this season. Be kind, take care of yourself and enjoy the season.

I am thankful for the gift of this community. See you next year!

Cari Clark Phelps is the founder of Salacia Salts, a line of coastal-inspired skincare, candles and home wellness products.  Her business and products have been featured in Vogue, Buzzfeed, Southern Living, Bravo Television’s Southern Charm, and Forbes Magazine and are available in over 300 gift shops nationwide. 

Salacia’s gift shop celebrates 4 years in 2024 and features handmade, creatively designed and locally made goods of over 30 artisans and creatives. Hands-on workshops and diy skincare kits are also available to elevate the guest experience.

Phelps holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in graphic design from SCAD and has an extensive background in packaging design. Named Savannah’s 2019 Entrepreneur of the Year by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce for her successes owning several businesses since she moved to the area from Sarasota, Florida in 1996.


Katelyn Whelan View More Blog Posts from this Author

Katelyn is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a dual degree in Marketing & Visual Communication Design. Settling in her hometown of Savannah, GA, she has spent the past 5 years building a career working with female owned small businesses. From events to retail, she has learned the art of translating ideas into action. Specializing in digital marketing, she seeks to bring the passion of her clients to life through the power of social media & e-commerce. She is the digital arm of a design firm founded with her two sisters, The Whelan Girls.

When she is not working, you can find her at the beach. She loves spending time with her family and can whip up a killer batch of chocolate chip cookies.

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