Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Top 10 Alternative Gifts for the Holidays

We put our heads together and created this list of alternative gifts for the holidays:

1) Charitable donation in a loved one's name. Visit Alternative Gifts International or your favorite non-profit's website to buy a gift on-line, or visit The Center for a New American Dream's website to see if there is an alternative gift fair in your area. You might talk with your family about pooling your money (everyone makes the same contribution) and donating it to a charity you all feel strongly about.

2) Give the gift of your time. The Buy Nothing Christmas website has cute coupons your can download for "2 Desserts made especially for you", "3 back massages especially for you," and "One free evening of child care." Or of course you can make your own for whatever you might be able to give.

3) Give experience gifts. Offer to take a child in your life for a day of sledding and hot chocolate, ice skating, swimming, or a drive/bus ride to someplace special.

4) Hold a literary Christmas. One of our readers submitted this idea: her family has agreed to each bring one of their favorite books that they've already read and have a book swap instead of exchanging high priced gifts.

5) Give something you already own. One of our members has a yearly ritual with his family where each person wraps up something that has meant a lot to them over the past year and passes it on to someone else in the family.

6) Make something special with your own two hands. Whether you are a knitter, a baker, a painter, or a music maker, your loved ones will appreciate your talents and the way you have shared them with others.

The following gifts are not exactly alternative in that you do have to buy some stuff, but they beat "Big Box" gifts:

7) Frame a photograph of an experience you've had with loved ones over the past year.

8) Give a museum or an aquarium membership to someone (this is the gift that keeps on giving).

9) Give a share in a CSA. Most of these memberships are way too expensive for one person to buy, but some farms will let you spend $30, $50, or $100 toward the CSA share.

10) Give other ecological gifts: rechargeable batteries, a solar powered flashlight, and/or LED lights are all examples of planet-friendly gifts.

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