Each of us has important people in our lives whom we like to honor with tokens of love, gratitude, and affection. The quest to find meaningful gifts that will be enjoyed and not stowed can be daunting, expensive, and exhausting. I have assembled a smattering of ideas for alternative gifting that I hope will help and inspire you.
Honor the Person Who Needs Nothing with a Gift that Keeps on Giving
- Consider making a gift to Kiva in his or her name. Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending to alleviate poverty. Here’s how it works: You make a gift to Kiva in the amount of $25 or more in honor of someone. Kiva notifies the individual about your gift with an invitation to search through the Kiva database of over 5,000 loans and select a borrower. When the loan is repaid, the process repeats!
- At Oxfam Unwrapped YOU choose the gift when you honor someone. (For example: A Christmas donkey for $150 or a toilet for $50.) You receive a humorous gift card to send.
- Heifer International works in much the same way. You can browse their gift catalogue here.
Stuck with what to give a grandchild?
If you want to give a tangible gift, try these ideas:
- Homemade baked goods.
- A gift certificate to a favorite coffee shop, deli, or restaurant.
- Support a family farmer by shopping at CitySeed Farmers Market (Saturdays and Sundays until Dec 18) OR online through Local Harvest with its catalogue of over 5500 products including fresh fruits, nuts, dried fruits, and non-edibles from beeswax candles to clothing and baskets.
Shop for Good:
- Make someone’s life better by shopping at Ten Thousand Villages, a fair trade retailer, with an online shopping site AND a physical store on Chapel Street. The company strives to improve the livelihood of artisans in developing countries. According to the website, “$140 million in sustainable income has been earned by makers who would otherwise be unemployed or underemployed since our founding in 1946.”
- Shop to benefit a local not-for-profit such as Creative Arts Workshop’s Celebration of American Crafts.
- Shop at a museum gift shop: Yale Center for British Art, Yale University Art Gallery, the Peabody Museum, or the New Haven Museum Shop.
- Give a green and useful gift like LED lightbulbs, good for the environment and for the user’s budget. IKEA is a great place to shop for these; it is the only type of bulb they sell.
- Also at IKEA: For every toy, piece of play furniture, or children's book sold until December 24, the IKEA Foundation will donate $1 supporting children's right to play and develop. The New Haven store is collecting soft toys for the Yale New Haven Children's Hospital, so buy a few extra to put in the donation bin.
- Do you have too many cookbooks? Pass some of them on, perhaps adding tabs for your favorite recipes and decorating with a gadget or two instead of a bow.
- Make a gift.
- Do you have too many notecards? Give them, along with a selection of beautiful stamps, to someone who still likes to correspond the old-fashioned way.
- Divide and repot your plants. (Be sure to keep them warm when you transport them).
- If you have a skill you would like to share with someone, give the gift of lesson(s).
[Note: This is an edited version of an article I wrote for the holiday issue of HomeHaven News, a monthly newsletter for the members of HomeHaven, an organization in New Haven helping seniors to "age in place." While some of the ideas are geared to shopping locally, I hope they will give you ideas for ways to help the community in which you live.]