Tips & Tricks #6 “Gifting”

As people begin to check-off their pre-burn packing lists, many are puzzled by the same question: “What should I bring as gifts?”

But Gifting is about much more than brown paper packages tied up with strings. In fact, Gifting is one of my favorite things…


The (non-official) 10 Commandments of Gifting:

1) Gifting is a physical demonstration of Love. 
“I want you to have this because it makes me happy to see you happy.”

2) Gifting dissolves separation. 
When you Gift, you are breaking down the wall between me and you/ us and them. If you EXCHANGE, then you are re-enforcing the separation. But to GIFT is to say, You and I are one.
When I understand the interconnectedness of all things, then Gifting helps to show that I cannot ever lose anything. If I gift you something, I am only transferring it from one part of the One to another. There is no loss and no gain. We are just shifting possession to an aspect of the whole that will appreciate it more. Think “Osmosis of Material Goods.”

3) A Gift can be ANYTHING. 
It can be a song, an idea, a massage, a sculpture, a compliment, a sticker, a shoulder to lean on, a wet-nap, a walk home, or a hug.

4) Gifting eliminates hoarding and creates abundance. 
When we allow ”stuff” to flow more fluidly between one another, ALL stuff becomes an available resource to ALL people. Gifting breaks down attachment.

5) Gifting helps dissolve the Ego. 
When we become less connected with owning and having stuff (even our skills and talents) then we identify less with our physical selves. We take less credit for things and less blame. Who we are becomes more about our divine seed than our story or physical form.

6) Gifting breaks the commerce paradigm. 
Traditional commerce = an even exchange. You get one, I lose one. You pay one, I earn one. Sum total = Zero (0). But in a gift, You receive the gift (+1) AND I feel good for giving the gift (+1). Sum total = Two (2).

7) Gifting releases the flow of energy between people. 
We are hardly even aware of the energetic walls that we maintain to hold on to our stuff and keep out yours. The more we gift, the less those barriers hold.

8) Gifting opens up the world. 
Making a habit of gifting allows you to see every interaction as an opportunity for increased Joy – even if there is no benefit to you specifically. If I have something (a bite of food, a word of support, a warm hat) that can make your life better, then I can make MY life better by helping YOU. That means there are billions of opportunities in every moment to make the planet more joyful. On the other hand, if the only way to increase joy is by helping out my specific individual self, then the opportunities are few.

9) Gifting is never required. 
A feeling of obligation cancels out the Gift. (This type of “Barter” exchange is often confused as gifting.) But if you expect anything in return – even the elimination of guilt – then the magic of Gifting has been compromised.

10) EVERY interaction can be seen as an act of Gifting.


These views are solely the views of Halcyon and do not represent the opinions of The Burning Man Organization.

About the author: John "Halcyon" Styn


Halcyon is a 21-year Burning Man participant and co-founder of Pink Heart camp. He is author of "Love more. Fear less." and producer of the Burning Man short film, "The Pink Path." He's won Webby awards for his over-the-top personal site & his "Love On Demand" video podcast Halcyon co-founded the San Diego based "1st Saturdays" homeless outreach program based on Burning Man Principles and coaches people how to be radically self expressed in the default world. You can find his full Playa Tips & Tricks series at

11 Comments on “Tips & Tricks #6 “Gifting”

  • Robin says:

    Yay! I love this message!

    This year will be my second burn and I definitely remember stressing over what to bring as a gift last year.

    Its so great to know that we are our own best gift to give. Our pure loving energy directed at another individual is sooooo powerful…it makes no difference if its making them a drink, offering a sun tan lotion massage, asking them if they are having a good time and genuinely listening to what they have to say.

    Last year, an auxillary friend that I didnt really know, left burning man on the third day. For some people it can be hard to let down their barriers and then the playa can seem like one big club, where everyone is on the inside and you can’t seem to find a way in.

    Lets make everyone feel warm and welcome. This year I pledge to love EVERYONE and not be afraid to reach out.

    Can’t wait to meet all you amazing people!!!

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  • Tara says:

    Im so glad I found this video! This is my first year at BM- and I am SO excited. Cannot wait to meet all the great people!

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  • ed toole says:

    wow, i am starting to feel the change already! Thank you for this wonderful description of what this movement is all about. First time burner, ready for anything and everything to change. Thank you for this gift you’ve created and shared so generously!

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  • Burning Red Bush says:

    I get it. Cool.

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  • Slog says:

    Good gifts to have in your pocket:

    1. Visine (Costco sells 4-packs for $10)… unopened bottles of Visine can go far;
    2. Cans of Pineapple Juice (small cans that fit in your pocket…)
    3. Sharpies;
    4. Extra dust masks… always a good gift, especially in a dust storm;
    5. Small bottles of hand sanitizer

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  • Stu says:

    No question that gifting (and the lack of commerce) are two of the most powerful aspects of BM, and what truly set it apart from any other festival or concert or gathering.

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  • t gorn says:

    God this halcyon character is annoying. Where on earth did they dig this guy up? His sermons on BM are getting harder and harder to take.

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  • Catbutt says:

    Pink Jesus — he’s the Pat Robertson of BRC.

    BM started out as a barter economy, then they renamed it “gifting” to make it sound less economical. It’s still a trade though: a thing, or an act, for an interaction, or experience. Most receivers feel compelled to give something back. The difference is that, rather than the experience being driven by desire or need, it is driven by a BM commandme… er… “principle.”

    If you assign meaning to the concept of gifting, it’s a trade. If you strip meaning from it, it’s pointless.

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  • Nick says:

    I watch this every year and I have been 4 years, John knows his shit, and “t gorn” funny how you can be so disrespectful behind the curtains of the internet. Hopefully you change your heart when your gifted something amazing when you least expect it… like an otter pop.

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  • Oso says:

    #1: Kinda like ed toole (above) – make the choice to be positive about what you do and say, and how you perceive other people. You don’t have to, so it’s not a rule….. but it does work soooo much better.
    Oh, and love the dust.

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  • a delicious cherry on top of the gorgeous bridal cake if
    you will. If you have seen the movie ‘Curly
    Sue’, the little girl’s hair is very long and curly,
    but what many parents need to understand is that it can get tangled, knotted up,
    and very dirty. Indian men have a clear fetish for long hair, which means there are so many hairstyle options for the Indian brides.

    Report comment

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