I heard the most amazing Christmas story through the website GIVIT.
Last year, a family tired of the usual fuss and commercialisation of Christmas decided that instead of giving gifts to each other, they bought the ENTIRE outstanding list off the GIVIT list and gave it to the people who need it most. Pretty amazing huh?
As awe-inspiring as this is, most of us aren’t in the financial position to be able to do that.
But, guess what? I am going to play Santa’s little helper with a list of ten feel-good gifts you can give this Christmas that won’t break the bank.
1. Just GIVIT
Check out the GIVIT list where that amazing family gave so much Christmas cheer last year to complete strangers. Sign up to the GIVIT list and see whose life you can change for the better in time for Christmas (or anytime in the year really!). You don’t have to give the whole list, just ONE item is a great place to start!
2. A pay-it-forward gift
Why not consider a pay-it-forward Christmas (or any celebration for that matter, have a look what my kids did for their birthday earlier this year – click here). Choose a cause that means something to you and ask your friends to donate their present-buying-budget to a good cause instead?
3. Philanthropy for kids
Give a gift that teaches children about philanthropy. In my opinion children have so many toys that don’t even get played with (the contents of our recycle bin often seems to be far more interesting). Instead of buying them another toy, why not buy them a goat or a cow. Obviously not an actual cow or goat for your home, buy a gift of a cow/goat for an impoverished family or community via Heifer International. Make your gift as visual as possible to encourage the child to ask questions and learn about the gift of giving.
4. The hard-to-buy-for person
Got someone hard to buy for? A person who ‘has everything?’ Then give this person a KIVA gift card. KIVA is an online lending portal with the mission of connecting people through lending to alleviate poverty. They have a 98.92% repayment rate and lend to over 61 countries. Give your person who has-it-all some REAL Christmas cheer and let them choose who they want to lend to – at the end of the loan, of course they can cash out of the loan if they wish. Check out my post about the Effort for Others KIVA lending group…
5. Cards / Gifts where the proceeds help a charity
Seek out your favourite charities or cause and buy your Christmas gifts / cards directly from a them. Check out the links below as suggestions on charities who sell their wares that helps further a mission or cause.
For cards try:
– Charity Greeting Cards
– Spinal Injuries Association
For an actual gift try:
– Foundation 18
– Mummy’s Wish Christmas Charity Auction – see my post on this here
6. Boycot the entire paper Christmas card mail-out
Instead of purchasing paper Christmas cards (yes, even charity ones) send a personalised electronic note or video message and give the money you saved to a charity instead. There are loads of benefits, including saving you time, a reduced carbon footprint, reduced waste and possibly greater impact – I bet you will be the most remembered christmas well-wisher by your contacts as doing something a bit different that they have helped contribute to.
7. Buy a gift that gives ALL year
Buy a gift that keeps giving all year long – here are some ideas:
– purchase an annual subscription to The Big Issue magazine for just $155 (AUD) not only will your recipient get a great magazine every fortnight, your gift will help provide homeless and disadvantaged people with paid work in a safe, secure and rewarding environment, or
– sponsor a child through world aid organisations, for abroad try World Vision
– or The Smith Family do a similar model for disadvantaged Australian children
8. Buy local
Buy local gifts or in season produce from local business. Not only does buying locally reduce your carbon footprint, it also helps to build strong communities around you. Check out my post Your Dollar is your vote, make it count. If you are organising a Christmas party or office catering, why not choose a restaurant or cafe who had a rough start to the year in the 2011 Queensland Floods, check out the list on my post Eat out for flood relief.
9. Regift, recycle or upcycle where you can
So many people see re-gifting as a bad thing! If it saves you time, money, declutters your house, and your recipient is happy – how bad can it be? Consider regifting something unused or you don’t need, recylcing something or even upcycle something to give it a new life. Other home-grown ideas are grow a plant, bake or make home-cooked goodies such as cookies. Remember, gifts don’t have to be bought from a shop to be considered a gift. (I remember when I was about 7 years old, my younger brother wrapped up one of his army-men as a gift to me. Not exactly my ideal gift, but I knew it came from a place of love and that is what is important!)
10. Support socially responsible businesses with your purchase
If all else fails, and none of these socially responsible Christmas present buying options suit you, then keep an eye out for the businesses which have been supporting YOUR community throughout the year and support them back with your purchase.
If you support them, then they can keep supporting charities around you.
So don’t just join the festive season chaos, have a think about your purchases, see the simple ways you can make a difference. Do you have other socially responsible ways that you embrace the true Christmas spirit? I would love to hear about more….