grown ups are like that....

Monday, December 15, 2008

making a list....

Every year holiday gift giving becomes a little harder. Not for my children, of course, their lists are miles long with easily obtainable toys and books and games. But the adults in our lives, myself included, are voicing that there is very little they really need or even want any more in terms of gifts. More often than not teachers are sending home letters asking parents not to buy them gifts but instead to buy a book for the class or donate money to a local charity.

These sentiments, I believe, are not scrooge-y in nature, but rather just a realization that rushing around the mall and stressing over shopping is yet one more hassle in an already hectic season of celebrating. Instead of getting Uncle John another jelly of the month subscription or grandma Betty another Christmas themed lapel pin, maybe it is time to think outside of the box, as they say. Get creative with your gifts and make your buying (or non-buying) a little more creative.

Here are a few ideas that, I hope, do not sound preachy or Oprah-esque. These are just some simple, different ways to give gifts that benefit not only the receiver but others in the community and world.

1) Regift. I'm not just talking about giving the hideous scarf you got for your birthday to someone else to save a dime. I mean really look at the things you have and think about whether or not you know someone who could use something that you no longer have a need for. Could your young cousin in college use those old but sturdy dishes gathering dust in the back of the closet? Sometimes regifting can be all about the sentiment attached to a certain item you own. The sweet lavender sachet my mother pulled from her drawer and pressed into my hand after one tearful Christmas good-bye means more to me than any other gift that she had given me that holiday.

Regifting can also help those in need in the wider community. My local MOMS® Club chapter (see link on right) recently sponsored a free toy "Giftaway". Our members and friends in the community gathered used but good conditioned toys and offered them to families in need. This event gave my children the opportunity to give to others by donating their old toys while also being an excellent example of recycling. Wouldn't you rather see that old toy farm delight another child rather than end up in a landfill?

2) Home made gifts. If you crochet, sew, sculpt, etc. this is the time to put your skills to action! It may sound cliché but I honestly believe a gift made with one's own two hands is so much more meaningful than a store bought item. Gifts made by children are great for grandparents, of course. An internet search for "homemade gifts" will lead you to various sites with craft idea, but baked goods, jams, trail mix, and the like are always favorites.

3) Charity donations. Obviously this isn't a new concept. People have been giving donations to charities during the holidays for years. But charity gift giving can seem out of reach for many of us saving money or living on a limited income. Search for charities that are appreciative of small monetary gifts. Heifer, Intl., for example, offers shares of a bee hive for only about $10. You can also shop at sites such as this Unicef site. The money for your purchase will go towards a good cause and you will have an interesting gift to give. Consider, too, exchanging charity donations instead of actual material gifts. Aunt Sue might love the idea that the local food bank was given a donation in her name more than she'll love another pair of slippers.

4) Gifts of time. Perhaps giving monetary donations of any kind to a charity is not an option. Try, instead, to donate your time. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or at the local nursing home. Spend some time helping your child's teacher out in the classroom during a special project. Shovel your neighbor's sidewalk just because. Homemade gift certificates for babysitting, housework, gardening, etc. are also popular no cost gifts that only require a bit of time on your part and the desire to help a friend or family member.

I hope that some of these ideas inspire you this gift giving season. For more wonderful ideas about charitable gift giving visit Aliki's post here.


Beck said...

Great suggestions!
We bought all of the women on our list nice silver bracelets from an orphanage project in Ethiopia - they're really pretty, they weren't expensive and it's a good cause.

InTheFastLane said...

I love this list. And one day, I aspire to be able to make something that I can give as gifts.

Aliki2006 said...

These are great ideas--I know what you mean about the small, emotion-filled gifts (like the lavender sachet) meaning the most of all.

Angela said...

All of my gifts to my extended family are homemade this year.
A crocheted blanket
Decorated picture frames
A few other things

Anonymous said...

I realized years ago that what brings me down about Christmas is shopping for gifts that people don't really need or want. It's much more exciting to be creative and thoughtful. It can take more time, but the feeling is worth it.

painted maypole said...

we have done charitable gifts (often providing christmas for a local family in need) for my parents and inlaws for as long as we've been married, and we gave up gifts to other adults years ago, as well (except my SIL, and she's a great gift giver! and fun to shop for, too)