We’ve all been there. A holiday party is quickly approaching, and you know that a distant family member/friend/ colleague will be in attendance. You’re socially obliged to give a gift, but the question remains: what to do? A giftcard is lame and impersonal–is it a woman who would enjoy a kit of OPI nail polish, a glass french press for coffee, or Mamma Mia! special edition on DVD? Is he a sporty guy, into classic science fiction, a foodie, or a bit too involved with his spellcasting girlfriend on World of Warcraft?
Fortunately, Oxfam International has set out to make holiday gift giving easy and meaningful. Instead of fretting about buying a gift that may not even be enjoyed by the recipient, step back and use the opportunity to do something good! Oxfam America Unwrapped offers a dozen great donation options–the least expensive starting at $12–that send the message “I wish you a happy holiday, but there is nothing I could give you that you need, so I’m giving a bee hive to a village that really needs it.” However, there is reason to stick to donating non-animal gifts. You can read PETA’s logic by clicking here–in short, animals are often a burden on small villages, who do not have enough clean drinking water or food to care for the animal. Since it takes 16 pounds of food to produce one pound of meat to eat, it is better for the people to just eat the produce/grains directly, instead of ‘wasting’ it on an animal. Lucky for us, Oxfam has amazing non-animal gifts–different types of grains, planting trees, first aid kits–all of which are seriously needed in these communities. It’s a gift that keeps on giving, and won’t break your budget.
I have a really dear friend with a horrible future mother in law. The woman is straight out of a movie–as conservative as my friend is liberal, uneducated but has an opinion on everything, quick to point out flaws, socially awkward, and a jellyfish. You know the kind of person I mean–the one who sneaks in personal stings to everything they say to you. Well, after years of thoughtful themed gift baskets, my friend gave up. The woman refused to see the good in any gift, so Sarah (my friend) realized that, since a gift was required, she would stop wasting money and time on this woman, and start using the social obligation as a time to give back.
Since that epiphany, the awful mother in law has received a bee hive, two cooking stoves, a lot of manure (haha!), and gardening tools–all donated to others in her name! The holidays are such a great time to give back. I mean, do any of us really need those UGG boots, a new iPhone, or video games? No one should feel insecure about the nice things they have, but we should strive to temper our indulgences by helping others! So this holiday, whether you’re shopping for a frenemey, best friend, family member, or stranger, remember to spend wisely: help others!