Gifting at Festivals: Trinkets, Tinctures, & Trades

Man holding out bucket of frilly elastic looking, colorful fabric perhaps. Numerous hands of others reaching in to grab one.
Photo by Sydnee Wilson

There are many ways you can interact with others at a festival to make it extra special and meaningful for the whole festie community. One of those ways is through gifting.

Gifting and trading are part of what makes festivals so unique and contribute to the live-off the land, back to basics feel of the experience. The concept of gifting is one of the 10 principles of Burning Man, a list which clearly outlines many of the tenets that influence the specific aspects of festivals that we all love. Burning Man defines the value of a gift as “Unconditional. Gifting does not contemplate a return or an exchange for something of equal value.”

At a festival, you might feel the urge to provide something to a festival goer because of the way they made you feel, the great conversation you had, the funny outfit they were wearing, or simply for no reason at all! All of these reasons are valid, and giving to others helps contribute to the fun and funky festival vibes.

So what makes a good gift at a festival?

As with most gifts, it’s the thought that counts. However, there are certainly things that should be considered when planning your gifts. Putting a bit of time and effort into gifts will really show when you want to give someone gratitude at the festival. Think about your skills and interests, and let your personality shine through via the gifts you create.

Woman giving man shoulder massage. Both smiling happily at camera.
Photo by Jacob Avanzato
Hugs and massages are all just as much a gift as items!

For example, if you are a certified raver kid from a past life, maybe making beaded bracelets or anklets to hand out is a good route to take. If you are of the less crafty, but more spiritual type, an array of choice crystals is always a fan favorite. And if you really want to get creative, consider channeling your inner-witch and combining some of your favorite essential oils in a vial to make your own custom tinctures.

Some festivals might help determine the type of gift you bring.

For example, attending massive festivals such as Electric Daisy Carnival or Ultra Music Festival might warrant an arm full of kandi to gift and trade. Whereas, a more niche house festival like Dirtybird Campout is famous for its custom tradeable patches that campers create and exchange.

A little research beforehand may help you decide what the best route is for that specific festival experience. However, never be afraid to stray from the norm— that’s what festivals are all about after all!

Lucidity Festival is one of the best festivals around for trading and gifting. You’ll meet people from all walks of life, carrying things they’ve created or been gifted throughout the years. Engage in conversation and be open to learning about new things from others. You never know— that tincture of scented oil you were gifted at 4 am may become your new go-to fragrance oil.

In addition to gifts you wish to give others during your stay, also be sure to bring things you’ve previously owned and brought, worn, or carried at festivals that you think are ready for new homes. Lucidity features a trading post, which is essentially what I like to call ‘hippy thrift shopping.’

The practice is simple: take an item and leave an item. This is also an idea that my camp mates and I brought to our camp, devising our own ‘take one leave one’ bin where passersby come to trade and engage within the campsites.

"What can you do to 'injoy' this moment?" sign.
Photo by Eric Allen

It’s simple to show up to the festival and engage and interact and have a great time. However, as one continues to dive deeper into festival culture, we begin to discover that those who make up the community are truly what make the culture so fulfilling to our souls. This year, I encourage us all to find a way to contribute a bit more of ourselves and our creativity to the culture at Lucidity.

It’s time to get the creativity flowing – happy gifting!

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