Most members of my immediate family are comfortably well-off. This used to make holiday giving very challenging. If they wanted something, they already had it — or didn’t because it was beyond their means and thus mine as well.
So I’d look for something I thought they’d like but didn’t know they wanted — a nifty kitchen gadget, hand-woven baskets, a lovely new recording of the Messiah. I personally think you can’t have too many of those.
But I came to suspect that most of my gifts turned out to be just one of those things they didn’t have because they didn’t want, even when they got it. One of those “well, it’s the thought that counts” things.
So about four years ago, I hit on a different strategy. I started making donations in my family members’ names to nonprofits whose work I knew and cared about — mostly those whose budgets are small enough for modest donations like mine to make a difference.
And I’d write the benefactors about the organizations — how I knew them, what they were doing that my family members would also care about, etc. Our values are close enough to make this easy. Don’t know what I’d have done otherwise. But holiday gifts would have been the least of the problems.
Choosing organizations isn’t easy. But it’s a good occasion to reflect on those whose work I observe — and in some cases, benefit from and/or participate in as a blogger.
So I’m making my final choices and writing this because my solution my suit you and at least some of the people on your gift list. One thing’s for sure. It will make you feel good. A whole lot better than desperately scanning the crowded store shelves I’ll bet.
And if your recipients are anything like mine, they’ll feel grateful because you’ve relieved them from the challenge of finding the right thing for you too.
Nothing really original about my solution, of course. In fact, I’ve just discovered a website that urges us to “redefine Christmas” by exchanging gifts to charities.
If you’re so inclined, you can send your friends and family e-mail cards asking them to donate to your favorite. A little forward for my taste, but then family traditions are different.
Another newly-discovered website lets you buy gift cards so that your friends and family can choose which charities to benefit. There’s a charge for the cards and a small processing fee when they’re used.
Still, it’s quick, easy and gives you a nice selection of cards you can personalize — not all Christmas-themed. And it lets you give the pleasure of making a list to people you care enough about to gift at this holiday season.