Isn’t it sad that this month is make-it-or-break-it for many small businesses? If they can lure in enough of us to drop our cash (or credit) at their stop, they can stay afloat for another year. Now I’m all for small businesses, don’t get me wrong. But I’d like to suggest that we, as a culture, tend to throw away our brains when we start shopping. Are we trying to prove our love to our kids? Are we trying to prove to the neighbors that we’re up on all the latest ‘stuff?’
I’d like to challenge you to make a plan this year. WHY are you eyeing this particular item to purchase? Will it add real value to the recipient’s life? How about the item’s history? Was it made ethically? Check a website like Shop to Stop Slavery for information about how a lot of common North American brands are made.
For a great selection of fair trade gifts, check out Ten Thousand Villages.
Sometimes we feel obligated to buy something for someone who has ‘everything.’ So many times the other person may be better off than we are, so if we can afford to gift an item to them, they probably already bought it. Why play this game? If you must reciprocate, consider charitable donations in your friend or relative’s name. Do some good with your $$ rather than provide one more trinket the recipient will feel obligated to dust.
Consider Harvest of Hope, where you can select a variety of gifts for families in need around the world. $55 will buy a goat for someone in Ghana. $12 will buy school supplies for a child in India. $780 will buy an entire house for a family in Bangladesh. You can see there’s something for every budget. Check out the whole list!
Of course, there are plenty of other worthy organizations as well. Author, evangelist, and musician Christopher Hopper challenges us to join his family purchasing clean water for Uganda. $10 buys safe water for one person.
If you still want to buy actual gifts, consider the following:
*Do buy quality items that will last
*Don’t buy just because you ‘should’
*Do buy things the recipient needs or will use
*Don’t buy simply to keep the number of packages even
*Do buy things the recipient needs or will use
*Don’t buy things as gag gifts when you know they’ll just get tossed out
*Do buy locally if possible, such as from a craft fair
*Do buy online rather than fighting the crowds
*Don’t get sucked into mindless spending
*Do think about the item’s manufacturing history and eventual disposal
*Do plan ahead and stick to your budget
Yes, we buy gifts for each other in our family. We’ve also decided to keep doing stockings with our adult kids, with the caveat that all of us add one or two items to everyone else’s stocking instead of Mom and Dad being responsible for the whole thing. This helps with both the budget and the creative thinking!
Remember that the most important gift of all is that of salvation–Jesus being gifted to humanity to provide communion with God.
This is the first of four articles on the ‘greening’ of Christmas. Stay tuned for the next few Mondays!
Any gift ideas or considerations you’d like to share with each other? Add a comment!
We only purchased one thing this year at a ‘regular’ store. Everything else has been made by myself, locally crafted, locally grown (Cheese made from local cows, wine from local grapes, and honey from local bees counts for that, right?), or from small local retail businesses. I don’t buy anything online unless it’s not available locally because I’d MUCH rather keep my spending confined to local small businesses who then can pay their local employees and suppliers, who in turn support our schools and roads, not to mention keep our surrounding communities financially healthy. I like that most of our spending stays here, working and helping our neighbors. (And I know that many online businesses are small businesses, I’d just rather make sure the guy across the street can keep his job at the pet shop than someone working in a distribution warehouse thousands of miles away because I want a cheaper dog collar)
Oooh, local food makes a great gift! We used to occasionally receive snack baskets with sausage and cheese and crackers. We could definitely make baskets like that up locally now–yes, with a bottle of local wine. Good idea! And I agree about the guy across the street’s job.
Sharon Cousins says
You can make a donation to Solar Cookers International in someone’s honor here:
The recipient in whose honor you donate will receive a card informing of the donation, a subscription to “Solar Cooker Review,” and, during the holiday season, a small solar cooker ornament. These donations give us all the gift of a cleaner, brighter future.
Of course! Thanks so much for adding these details, Sharon. A solar cooker ornament sounds like fun!